Window Seat: Tea

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | December 10, 2023 IST

International Tea Day

Mrinal Chatterjee

15 December is observed as International Tea Day since 2005 in tea producing countries like Bangladesh, SriLanka, Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Uganda, India and Tanzania.
 Tea happens to be the second most popular drink in the world after water. It is also the most democratic drink, after water- though it can be exotic.  In Japan elaborate ritual is associated with Tea drinking.
 Tea has occupied a prominent place in literature across the world.

Recently I discovered a bunch of sher on Tea on social media. I do not know who the original author is- must be an avid tea drinker like me.
 Savour these with a steaming hot cup of tea.

Ek tera khyal hi to hai mere pas

Warna koun akele me baith kar chai pita hai!

(Your  memories give me company

Otherwise, who drinks tea alone!)

Aaj lafjo ko maine

Sham ki chai pe bulaya hai

Ban gayi baat to

Ghazal bhi ho sakti hai

(This evening I have invited words for tea

if things go well, songs could be composed)

Brief History of Chaddi

The other day, I went to the local apparel shop to buy a pair of inner wear for myself. As I asked the salesperson, he enquired, ‘what size?’. I replied. And then he asked me a series of questions relating to the kind of inner wear I would like to wear. I was little perplexed at the number of questions. Ek chaddi ke liye itna question? So many questions for buying a chaddi!

That made me think about the history of chaddi. When did homo sapiens begin to wear a chaddi? Interestingly an exhaustive search on Internet provided no answer. There is a book titled: The History of Underwear with Professor Chicken by Hannah Holt and another by Willet and Phillis Cunnington titled: The History of Underclothes.  An article by Kabeer Sharma gave me some interesting facts about Indian men wearing inner wear.

There is evidence to suggest that Indian men did wear the antariya (made of sheer cloth and passed between the legs to be tucked behind) that finds stray mention in texts around 250 AD. But it was, actually, outerwear.

The biggest cultural shift in men’s underwear as well as upper body wear for women (there was no upper garment till then) came with the Muslim invasions and the subsequent Muslim rule and its brand of conservatism.

Somewhere in those layers lay the kaupina—the first Indian G-string—evidence of which can be found in the drawings of European visitors to India in the 18th and 19th centuries. The kaupina was a loincloth passed between the legs and held by a string at the waist. It’s worn to this day, usually by mendicants and holy men, some of whom trust only the kaupina to cover their vital organs. It’s also prescribed as the magic mantra for celibates who dedicate themselves to the creation of upward flowing semen, not to mention heightened spirituality and physical self-control. The kaupina has also been linked with Lord Shiva.

But it isn’t the only piece of underwear closely integrated with religion. At the end of the 17th century (1699); the kachcha as one of the five symbols of Khalsa Sikhs brought in another revolution under the kurtas.

Then the British brought the union suit to India—call it an ancestor of the baby bodysuit—that they had been wearing since the Industrial Revolution. While the British and some well-off Indians switched to boxers with elastic waist bands, others stuck to traditional langots.

By World War II, soldiers were being issued drab, olive-green shorts with buttons. And even as Indians chose to shun underwear, Indian cotton remained the fabric of choice. In fact, David Landes in his celebrated work, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, credits it with having transformed the Western standard of hygiene.

Indians historically resisted anything that smacked of regimentation, but somewhere along the way, the kaupina became more functional and the loincloth shrunk into the langot that gained national prominence alongside khadi kachchas till the underwear revolution happened in India. Having someone like Mahatma Gandhi behind it, or in it if you will, helped of course.

Cut to the modern times. Indian men, as I discovered, are now flooded with choices related to inner wear. The more choices you have, more confused you would be. I am in that state now.

December sans cold

December is the coldest month of the year. But in most parts of the country the chill of December is absent.  The India Meteorological Department (IMD has said that most parts of the country will likely experience above-normal minimum temperatures in December.

Last December I had been to Kashmir and bought loads of winter wear. I am unhappy, as I am not able to wear them. The heavy woolen sweaters, coats are also probably discussing among themselves: when would we come out of this almirah?

Disclaimer:

This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with www.prameyanews.com.

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