Mayapur, West Bengal
The other day, just before I left for India, I got out of a car to attend a devotional meeting when a motorist noticed me. He hollered out some message that did not come clear but for three words. “Fix your dress…” was all I could decipher in reference to my robes. The tone was slightly derogatory.
I thought that in Canada—a rather pluralistic society where residents see people in all kinds of attire—it was a bit surprising. Anyway, “Thanks for the tip, Buddy,” I thought. All was in order as far as my dhoti (lower robe) was concerned.
Now here in Mayapur, a town of thousands of people (Vaishnavas), you actually stand out if you wear pants. There is an understood code of dress, in this land of comfy clothes which move at every dance step in kirtan, as much as they would move when outside in the blowing wind.
I’m staying in Room 1104 in the Isodyan Hall and adorning the wall is an ISKCON classic print of kirtan master, Chaitanya. We could also credit Him with being the Father of Kirtan. There in the print, He has arms upraised while draped in golden-hued cloth that falls in fine folds. His associates are also clothed in a similar manner as they are captured in a frozen moment during an outdoor chanting session.
The picture displays a celestial moment of suspended and splendid movement.
I do see, as I’m walking (at a slow pace), pilgrims who have chosen modern attire, largely under the influence of Bollywood. What to do?
May the Source be with you!