Amid a controversy over eliteclubs not allowing entry to dhoti-clad men and the state government's intervention to uphold cultural values, a school here has been quietly following "only dhoti norm" for the past 60 years for its boy students and male teachers.
At the Tamil Nadu Government-aided Sri Ahobila Math Oriental Higher Secondary School at West Mambalam, the uniform for boy students from class VI to XII is dhoti and white shirt. Male teachers too are required to only wear dhoti. "This has been the practice since 1953 when the school was founded and is part of the management's other measures like Vedic learning to nurture our culture," school Principal N Uma says."We admit students belonging to all sections of society, including those of the Backward Class, Most Backward Class, Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and Muslims. All students should, however, wear only Dhotis," she said. Interestingly, girls are required to wear half-saris (Tamil Nadu's traditional "pavadai thavani.") It is no surprise then that women teachers are mandated to wear saris. R Sathyanarayanan and S Babu, students of class 12 and G Hariharan of Class eight, say in unison that they feel "absolutely comfortable" in dhoti. Asked if they faced any criticism for sporting dhoti amid the trend of jean and pants, they said "we are respected and held in esteem for practising our culture."
The school is aided by the Tamil Nadu Government and run by Ahobila Math Samskrita Vidya Abhivardhini Sabha. The state government has announced it would formulate a new legislation to curb the practice of disallowing entry to people wearing dhoti in private clubs and other places in the backdrop of a dhoti-clad Madras High Court judge being turned away at TNCA Club here.