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The much-reviled pyjamas

The humble garment bridges cultural and gender divides, but is still not found appropriate in many public places.

They have dragged it into a controversy again. A few days ago, officials in the Chinese city of Suzhou in Anhui province shamed seven citizens by releasing their photos sporting pyjamas in public, calling it “uncivilised behaviour”. Following a public outcry against this assault on their privacy, authorities have apologised.

Not long ago, a British supermarket had refused entry to pyjama-clad shoppers. Around the same time, authorities managing a stadium in Kanpur had decreed that a morning walk is too solemn an activity to be performed in pyjamas. In quick succession, the Caddo commissioner in Louisiana, U.S., contemplated a law to prohibit people from wearing pyjamas in public. Actually, he rubbed it in by saying, “Today it’s pyjamas. Tomorrow it’s underwear. Where does it stop?”

It touches a raw nerve because pyjamas are not only the most harmless of clothes but also a bridge between cultural and gender divides. For centuries, men and women across the globe have felt nothing but comfort in pyjamas. Indeed, if there is one piece of garment that deserves to be called people’s wear, it is pyjamas.

Look how accommodative it is! We can spell it loosely as pyzamas, pajamas or paijamas. Which other garment would allow you to play with its name like that?

Truth is, to wear pyjamas day-long is one of the under-rated luxuries of human life. Unfortunately, for a sizeable section of society, all luxuries are guilt-edged. So, they coined a new expression to disparage people’s fondness for pyjamas. It is called ADPS (All Day Pyjama Syndrome). Is that how one should reward a stellar garment?

This is not to deny the notable exceptions to this rule. A ruler of Gondal, the erstwhile princely state of Saurashtra in Gujarat, was also a lexicographer and is credited with compiling the 16-volume Gujarati language dictionary called Bhagwadgomandal. Legend has it that while touring the interiors of his kingdom, if he came upon a new word and there were no paper at hand, he would scribble it down on his leg-wear called chorno, a Kathiawari version of pyjamas.

Times have changed and such royal patronage is now out of the question. Is there nobody who would take up the cause of pyjamas or at least treat the humble garment with dignity like George Fernandes who, even as a Union Minister, sported it everywhere?

satish_k_sharma@hotmail.com

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 12:39:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-much-reviled-pyjamas/article30769890.ece

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