The other day (April 2, 2009) India’s President, Pratibha Patil, visited Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. Obviously, the issue of Arunachal Pradesh and Tawang is a matter of contention for the Chinese Government, which maintains that it is a part of Tibetan territory. Therefore, President Patil’s visit there is a political statement from India. I am waiting to see China’s reaction to it.
However, I was more engrossed with a photo that appeared in the media when President Patil visited Tawang. The photo appears to be taken during her visit to the famed Galden Namgyal Lhatse monastery, more popularly known as the Tawang Monastery. She is being greeted by monks in rows bearing the typical khata. What is different is the dress of the President. Instead of her usual Sari, President Patil is wearing a Chuba (gown), a Wonjug (shirt), a Shamo (Hat) as well as a Pangden (Apron), a dress that a typical Tibetan lady would wear. I have put “Tibetan” in quotes in the heading, because the Monpas, who are the inhabitants of Tawang, are related to Tibet and some of them may be wearing similar dress although they do have their unique garment.
I think there are photos of former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi in a Tibetan dress, but this could be the first time an Indian President is in one. See for yourself here.