India’s top leaders have always set a bench mark in clothing with their simple, iconic attires and also made political statements through them.
Right from Dr BR Ambedkar, the nation’s first law minister, who wore dapper suits to break the notion that only the privileged have to be well-dressed, and Mahatma Gandhi, who took to wearing Khadi as a symbol of nationalism, equality and self- reliance, the leaders of our country have lived the phrase ‘clothes make the man.’
Also notable among India’s leaders is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose sartorial choices have made a mark in all his public appearances. On the day of his 72nd birthday, a look at some of his looks that, along with showcasing suave, sought to convey a message.
PM Modi will release cheetahs brought from Namibia in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park on September 17 as part of his efforts to revitalise and diversify the country’s wildlife and habitat.
On the inaugural of Cheetah Reintroduction Project, which also happens to be his birthday, PM Modi wore a saffron shawl printed with what seemed like cheetah prints on a blue kurta. Always the master of details, PM Modi’s shoes were said to have cheetah imprints.
Tri-color Pagdi for 75th Independence Day
On the occasion of 76th Independence Day this year, the PM had carried forward the tradition of wearing a turban adorned with colours. PM Modi was seen wearing a tricolour turban with a white kurta and a blue jacket.
PM Modi’s Tiranga turban this year brought out the spirit of the government’s ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign aiming at encouraging people to bring the Tiranga home.
During the opening of the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai on July 28, PM Modi arrived at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium wearing a half-sleeved white shirt, chess-patterned karai veshti (traditional white dhoti) and sported a shawl that had a chessboard designed border.
“Checkmate! PM Narendra Modi’s powerful style statement in a traditional attire on arrival in Chennai to inaugurate the 44th Chess Olympiad,” tweeted Union Minister Piyush Goyal.
R-Day Special ‘Brahmakamal’ Cap and Manipuri Stoles
Switching up his signature turban for a cap that many experts confirmed is from Uttarkhand and a Manipuri stole, PM Modi rocked the Republic Day celebrations this year. Brahmakamal, the official flower of poll-bound Uttarakhand, is inscribed on the cap.
Interestingly, both Manipur and Uttarakhand were going to polls in March. Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami thanked PM Modi for representing the state’s heritage in front of the world.
Manipur minister Biswajit Singh thanked PM Modi and revealed the details of the stole that PM Modi was seen wearing. It is called Leirum Phee, the minister said.
Uttarakhand’s Brahmakamal cap gained much popularity during the run-up to the state assembly polls held in February this year with Modi wearing it at all his election meetings.
In April 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic was starting to spread in India, PM Modi was seen covering his face with a Manipuri gamcha (towel), also known as Meitei Lengyan, during his address to the nation, wherein he announced an extension of the coronavirus lockdown till May 3.
Following the address, PM Modi changed his display picture on his social media profiles — his mouth and nose covered with the ‘gamcha’ and hands folded in namaste pose. Soon, several senior BJP leaders, including party president JP Nadda, also put pictures of wearing face covers on their Twitter profiles while others photoshopped their existing pictures with the same gamcha worn by PM Modi.
Rocking the Beard
Amidst the second wave of Covid-19 in India, PM Modi donned a new look with a flowy beard, raising speculations of the meaning behind his “ascetic” look. Modi started growing his beard under the Covid lockdown, and in the West Bengal assembly election campaign in 2021, his look was even compared to that of iconic Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore.
It was in late September 2021 that the prime minister got rid of his long beard as he arrived in the US for his first trip abroad since the beginning of the pandemic.
The trimmed beard was visible before his arrival, the PM shared a picture of him reading files on the airplane, saying: “A long flight also means opportunities to go through papers and some file work.”
Although often seen in traditional kurta, pajama, and a jacket, PM Modi’s pinstriped navy blue suit he wore during former US President Barack Obama’s 2015 visit to India was not one to be forgotten.
What made the suit special was, the yellow stripes on it were actually his name ‘Narendra Damodardas Modi’ woven into the fabric. The suit was later auctioned and Surat-based Laljibhai Tulsibai Patel shelled out exactly Rs 4,31,31,311 for the garment , which then acquitted the honour of being the most expensive suit in the world. The funds were donated to Modi’s Namami Gange project.
When in Mongolia…
PM Modi’s visit to Mongolia, the land of Genghis Khan, made headlines for the fact that it was the first time an Indian prime minister had visited the country.
In addition, Modi’s attire took everyone by surprise as he turned up in a fedora and flowing Mongolian robe, posing with a horse gifted by his counterpart, Chimediin Saikhanbileg.
PM Modi is a pro in donning colorful turbans, pagdis, hats, and caps. One of his most striking looks was during the inauguration of the 10-day Hornbill Festival in Nagaland in 2014 when Modi wore a traditional Naga headgear while beating the traditional Naga gong three times at the picturesque heritage village of Kisama.
The Hornbill Festival is also supported by the Centre as one of the biggest indigenous festivals of the country. In his address, Modi described the entire Northeast region as a “Natural Economic Zone” – NEZ – whose potential had hitherto remained untapped and congratulated the Nagas for organizing this festival which showcases the cultural diversity of the state.
More recently, Modi sported a traditional headgear associated with the Meitei culture in Manipur. Modi on January 4 reached Imphal to lay the foundation stone for several developmental projects. As a token of respect, Manipur CM Biren Singh felicitated PM Modi with a traditional white Meitei headgear along with a matching shawl.
While campaigning for the general elections, Modi also donned the traditional Assamese japi in Gogamukh in Lakhimpur district in northeastern Assam.
In his two-day campaign trails in Assam, Modi also slammed the ruling Congress party for 60-years of misrule. Referring to the massive turn out of people, Modi said Assam is all set to get a young capable chief minister in Sarbananda Sonowal.
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