PATNA: In a major relief to men in Bihar’s Muslim-majority Kishanganj district, a local court on Friday withdrew a ban it had imposed ten days ago on the wearing of lungi on the court premises.
After protests grew across the northeastern district against the order, district and sessions judge Dr Ratan Kishore Tiwary described the order as “advisory in nature”. In a letter he wrote to the two bar associations in Kishanganj, he added: “If not interested, let that order be treated as redundant”.
“The withdrawal of this tughlaqi firman (insensible diktat) has sent waves of cheer across Kishanganj and the entire Seemanchal area of Bihar. Lungi has been a very popular casual wear of men in this region for centuries,” said Kishanganj-based journalist Hassan Javed.
Muslims comprise about 78 per cent of the population in Kishanganj, making it Bihar’s only district and Lok Sabha constituency where Muslims outnumber Hindus. Located close to the Bangladesh border, Kishanganj is also India’s largest Muslim-populated area after the Kashmir Valley and Lakshadweep. Bihar has a 17 per cent Muslim population.
Lungi, the traditional wrap-around garment worn from waist to ankles by men, is ubiquitous across Kishanganj and nearby districts bordering West Bengal. Often stitched in the middle, it is a casual dress preferred by working-class men in both rural and urban areas.
“Lungi is one of the best dresses for men. It is very comfortable to wear… If we are asked to put on trousers, who would give us the cash to buy them? We cannot afford trousers. Two lungis last for a year while four trousers would not last that long. One would also need underwears with trousers. Where would one get all the money for such dresses?” asked Mohammad Zaheeruddin, 55, a farmer from Bishanpur in Kishanganj.
The ban order, issued by the court manager of Kishanganj civil court, Ravi Prakash, on November 5 had met with protests by both Kishanganj District Bar Association and Kishanganj Bar Association. “Over 60 percent of our clients and men visiting the court here wear lungi. Lungi-wearing men ride bicycles and bikes with ease and joy for years. The ban was not justified,” said lawyer Minhaz Sarwar.
“People in Kishanganj did not want to be fooled by diktats like those by Yogi Adityanath, who is changing names of places. We are happy that we can continue wearing lungi, which is a part of our cultural identity,” said Shah Moazzam, a graduation student from Baigana in Kishanganj.
As part of the protests, local singer Mohammad Ilyas was seen singing the patriotic song ‘Kar chale hum fida jaan-o-tan’ wearing a lungi at a school programme to celebrate Children’s Day.