Dimapur: There is growing anger among netizens from Nagaland against e-commerce sites selling.
A casual search for a Naga shawl leads a netizen from the northeast to discover to his horror weird fancy dresses for children masquerading as authentic Naga traditional wear. He promptly posted on social media and piqued my interest.
I checked different e-commerce sites and found out e-commerce sites like Amazon, Flipkart & fancy dresswale selling absurd, alien-looking costumes being described as Nagaland girl/boy tribal dresses. This is nothing but a terrible representation of our diverse culture.
I would go a step further and call it cultural appropriation. Let us look at the definition: Cultural appropriation is the adoption of an element or elements of one culture by members of another culture. This can be controversial when members of a dominant culture appropriate from disadvantaged minority cultures.
During my college days, at our annual cultural festival, they showcased and presented the diversity of India. Students from a different state represented my state. I was surprised to see them semi-nude covered with leaves and howling like an early man.
We are not cavemen or a member of the Flintstone family wearing leopard skins. Our traditional dresses are a far cry from what you see in popular culture; they are refined and worn on occasions like festivals and events.
For Nagas and most tribes in Northeast India, our traditional dresses and ornaments are sacred and priceless in every sense, passed down from generation to generation. It is a history of our ancestors.
Do you know? It takes up to a month to weave a single shawl manually and requires craftsmanship and skills to create the beautiful and vibrant traditional dresses we wear. Even among the Naga tribes, every tribe has its unique costume, ornaments like our folk songs and dance.
It’s nice to say India is a country of diverse culture, but appropriation cannot substitute diversity. It is crucial for e-commerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart to understand the culture of a community. They need to be respected and presented without appropriation. Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos made headlines after he publicly announced that he supports black live matter movement which is good. But is a hypocrite with his shop still selling products that promote cultural appropriation.
I am glad that people are slowly discovering this and venting their anger on various forums. If these e-commerce sites are selling fancy dresses, say so, but no community should be marked. They are selling a lie.