It is now old news that Azad Nagar Ganeshotsav mandal in Andheri (West), better known as Andhericha Raja, banned devotees clad in shorts and other ‘revealing’ clothes from their mandal this year.
Earlier in the month, the mandal authorities had famously attributed the decision to Poonam Pandey and her clothing when she visited the mandal last year (‘Mandal that banned short clothes blames Poonam Pandey’ MiD DAY, September 10). Doing a sudden volte-face, the same mandal invited the model to perform aarti in front of their idol last evening. And much to their relief, Pandey turned up (fumbling) in a saree.
The members of the mandal, who said that they had a ‘tough time handling her’ when she showed up in shorts last year, ironically welcomed her back to their sanctum, less than a month after venting their spleen. They claimed that they were worried about what clothes she would turn up in, for this year’s visit, and were relieved to discover that she had followed the sartorial rules laid down by the mandal.
A far cry from her shirt and shorts avatar last year, Pandey showed up in a white and purple saree. She was seen walking self-consciously, somehow managing the yards wrapped around her as she walked towards the stage. Uday Salian, spokesperson for the mandal, who had attributed the ‘ugly environment’ in his pandal to Pandey’s presence last year, said, “We were not sure how she would be coming as she had told us she would come. But until she actually reached in that attire we were still anticipating her final look. But we were satisfied with the new look and seeing her in a saree, minus her shorts which we saw last time.”
A source from the mandal said, requesting anonymity, “She was not wearing a proper traditional saree like any other woman would wear; instead she was wearing a very revealing transparent saree. But we were glad that she at least wore a saree and was not showing off her legs like last time.” Pandey said, “This was the second time in my life that I am wearing a saree as I don’t feel comfortable carrying it. I had worn it because I wanted to go for a change and thought of seeking blessings of the Lord. It was my choice to wear a saree and I did not follow any dress code as I still believe that nothing is hidden from the Lord. Why alter ourselves in front of him?”