Amidst the election fever in Kashmir, the traditional ‘pheran’ has made a political comeback with leaders of all hues donning the long cloak to keep out the winter chill — and also make a statement.
Be it chief minister Omar Abdullah or the PDP leadership and even the BJP’s female brigade, all have the ‘pheran’ in common.
Omar Abdullah, who has donned one even when the weather wasn’t very cold during the initial days of campaigning, has worn the pheran practically everywhere — from filing nomination papers for both his constituencies in Beerwah and Sonawar and now for campaigning.
The chief minister had last year opposed an army diktat asking reporters not to come for press conferences in a pheran.
Abdullah wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter. “People wear their pheran with pride. It’s part of our identity aside from the best way to stay warm in the cold. Can’t ban Pherans.”
Mehbooba Mufti, the engine of the People’s Democratic Party, is seen wearing the pheran as she moves across the valley, raising the pitch for development, education and employment.
“The attire helps leaders establish instant connection in the remote villages in the valley, where they go for campaigning,” said senior journalist Sheikh Mushtaq. “Besides the weather is such that pheran is a good option,” he added.
Traditionally, pheran is a loose cloak wore in winters to keep warm but the garment has become a fashion statement. After undergoing modifications and alterations it is appealing to young and urbane Kashmiris as well.