LifestyleWill Kamala Harris wear Sari and make another history...

Will Kamala Harris wear Sari and make another history on Inauguration Day?


KOLKATA (India) — The very image of the US Vice President wearing the iconic Indian 6-yards drape on inauguration day sends shockwaves of excitement and pride to Asian-Americans and the Indian community alike. After all, Kamala Harris is set to represent her Indian (Asian) roots in the world’s second-most powerful office. 

Presidential Inauguration is set to take place on January 20. But this year, it is different, that goes without saying. From a once-in-a-century pandemic raging parallelly, to a disturbing string of events like the breach of Capitol incited by the outgoing President, things leading to the Inauguration have been topsy-turvy lately. 

But one thing appears to thaw the whole strain following the deadly Capitol insurrection — at least to the Asian-American community — that will Kamala Harris drape a sari at the inauguration stage? 

The discussion has created a buzz on social media. Although it is just a speculation netizens can’t keep from pondering. 

The question of whether wearing a traditional Indian sari or not might be an important one amidst all other string of issues happening in the world and the US.

But for some Asian-American communities, the idea is important, that Kamala Harris will be the nation’s first Black and South Asian Vice President wearing a sari at an inauguration event, though the celebration will be largely virtual still this news has given a gleam of positivity. 

The whole speculation is a resurface from a 2019 comment that Mrs. Vice President-elect made to a question about the sari.  

In 2019, during Miss Harris’s own presidential campaign, she was already asked by an audience member, in a lighthearted moment of an event hosted by an Asian American group, whether she would wear a traditional Indian garment on her inauguration day if she got elected to be a president.

Miss Harris then smilingly replied: “Let’s first win”. My mother raised us with a very strong appreciation for our cultural background and pride. Celebrations that we all participate in regardless of how our last name is spelled. It’s the beauty of who we are as a nation.”

Following her ‘Let’s see’ comment, an image featuring a young Harris (featured on the cover image of this story) wearing a saree was widely shared on social media, especially by her Indian-American fans. 

Sari is found everywhere in India, and where Kamala Harris’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan lived in the South, the 6-yards has got ubiquitous cultural significance. It is more than a piece of cloth draped in style. It is an embodiment of femininity, grace, and poise and a trace of history dating back to thousands of years. 

Shyamala Gopalan was born in Chennai and then later immigrated to the US. It is said that the world watching Harris wearing a sari could be a powerful symbol of Biden-Harris’s administration that will show how they can lead America and represent minorities — something that the nation is in dire need of. 

The New York-based fashion designer Bibhu Mohapatra said in a phone interview to CNN Style from Brunswick Georgia: “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see her show up to the inauguration ball in a beautifully woven Banarsi sari. 

He further said: “I think she understands the power of that image.”

The fashion designer also wrote on Twitter: “Madam VP @SenKamalaHarris I am standing by. It will be an honor to dress you.”

Many people urged to see the first time female Vice President in a sari which they said through social media. A photograph of an upcoming Vice President with Indian and Jamaican roots has already been surfaced on social media and it got widely spread too. But it was clicked when she was young with her Indian grandparents. 

People got hope through her gesture towards her origin which she still acknowledges after being in the position where she is now. They got deeply connected. The designers got resonated too through Harris’s historic win which made them recollect their family backgrounds and also gave hopes for the women and the minors to dream big.

 Bibhu Mohapatra who was brought up in Odisha state, India, said after seeing the photograph: “It immediately brought to me an instant connection to my South Asian roots.” 

He further said: “I’ve always seen (Harris) as a strong person with a dynamic career. I’d known of her accomplishments and the contributions she has made to our nation, but that image of her in a sari made her familiar to me. I felt like she could be a part of my family, or a good friend, talking to me in my kitchen.”

One thing that Kamala Harris’ ascension has revealed is how little there is of a South Asian/“Desi” American politic grounded in policy & vision. Instead, we get jokes about food, memes with her draped in a sari and how someone who “looks like us” is VP.

— Sana Saeed (@SanaSaeed) November 8, 2020

The Nepalese American designer Prabal Gurung said: “As a minority, you grow up and don’t see many people in the media, entertainment, or positions of power that look like you,” he said in an email interview. “(Her win) means that women and marginalized people can now look to the highest office in the country, and see someone that looks like them. It opens up the door for so many to dream the biggest they can and know that it is possible to attain it.”

Mohapatra also said that Harris can use the traditional Indian garment to heal the incoming administration which is going through a difficult phase and also to unify the country.
The world is waiting to see what happens on the inauguration day which can be groundbreaking and especially after her youthful, smiling sari look which got viral on social media.  

While to the Indian-American community, Harris wearing a saree would be a matter of sheer pride, the same will also have a reverberating effect around the world, especially in nations like India, noted designer Naeem Khan, who dressed First Lady Michelle Obama 28 times during her tenure, CNN reported. 

Khan feels, Harris’s gesture of wearing a sari could impact on a global scale, and reflect the Biden-Harris administration’s warmth and openness toward cultures, which in turn, might have a diplomatic benefit.

Tamil Nadu: People in Thulasendrapuram village put up hoardings & posters of US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at their shops & homes

“We’re all very excited that Kamala Harris will take oath as Vice-President of US, she inspires all the women in the village, said a local.

— ANI (@ANI) January 20, 2021

Khan feels Harris’s entry to the White House will change the whole point of view. “She’s half South Asian. I feel that opens up things globally, because Pakistan, India, Bangladesh….those countries are going to look at America in a whole different way,” he said


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