Angavastram, also known as the “upper cloth” or “shoulder cloth,” is a traditional Indian garment worn by men. It is considered an important part of Hindu culture and is often seen as a symbol of prestige and respect. For a university graduate, the challenge in wearing an Angavastram lies in understanding and embracing its cultural significance.
It is not just a piece of cloth, but a representation of one’s values and beliefs. Wearing an Angavastram requires a deep appreciation for Hindu traditions and an understanding of its cultural significance. Furthermore, wearing an Angavastram can also be seen as a sign of maturity and responsibility.
It indicates that the wearer is ready to take on the challenges and responsibilities of adulthood, and is committed to upholding traditional values and beliefs.The change from the cloak to the angavastram is not the point here. How the purpose of education is imagined, and what direction scholarship is given by those in a position to set the limits of what is to be sought — that is the real issue. To have power is to be able to shape things. And that power can be exercised to determine a range of social and cultural imperatives. The university system and its imperatives do not parse well with the idea of setting limits. The word “viswavidyalaya” itself clearly envisions knowledge seeking as a global endeavour. What is productive, academically speaking, is to be critical and questioning.
The university space must always welcome resistance to, and questioning of, any singular way of thinking. This ought to be the norm within the classroom. Totalitarian and bigoted authorities have often not allowed this.
In Soviet Russia, only Pavlovian psychiatry was permitted during communist rule (because it foregrounded social conditioning over individual psychosis, etc). In many American states, teaching evolution has been controversial; it is also proscribed in a progressive Muslim nation like Turkey.
The university space must never be co-opted as experimental ground for the cultural and political reorientation of the state wearing an Angavastram is a real challenge for a worthy university graduate, as it requires a deep understanding and appreciation of Hindu culture, as well as a commitment to traditional values and beliefs. It is not just a piece of cloth, but a symbol of one’s cultural heritage and maturity.