Once considered an accessory of pride, the pagdi (turban), albeit in a designer avatar, is set to adorn the crowns of sarpanchs in the state.
The government has decided to encourage sarpanchs, the judicial head of gram panchayats, to wear pagdis while carrying out official duties in order to signify authority.
To give the pagdi a makeover, the government would take the help of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Patna.
Bihar would be the first state in the country to start this initiative in 8,402 gram panchayats.
Panchayati raj department minister Bhim Singh told The Telegraph: “Sarpanchs must have a certain attire or dress code like that of doctors, advocates and police officers that would lend them a unique identity. Pagdi is the symbol of justice, you better call it ‘nyay ki pagdi’. It also gives a feeling of self-dignity and would ensure their identity as well. The directive applies to both men and women sarpanchs. Later, if any change is needed, we will consider.”
Chief minister Nitish Kumar hit upon the idea of having a pagdi for sarpanchs while laying the foundation stone of panchayat sarkar bhavans at Samvad on September 22.
Sarpanchs have welcomed the department’s move. Ruksar Begum of Bhansia gram panchayat in Araria district said: “We welcome the decision and feel proud to say that women should be treated equally. I do not mind wearing the pagdi. Even in court, men and women judges wear similar dress. I hope that the pagdi instils a sense of respect in men towards women while delivering justice.”
The department brought traditional pagdis from Rajasthan and Karnataka. “We just wanted to see them for inspiration,” said Bhim.
Unlike Rajasthan and Karnataka, where pagdi is a symbol of royalty and nobility of zamindars, in Bihar, farmers usually wear pagdis. The minister said a badge with an inscription such as panch parmeshwar would adorn the pagdi at the centre.
A senior NIFT official said: “We have been asked to make the pagdi attractive but light and durable. Next week, we will meet the department minister and secretary.”
The department is keen to implement the new system this year.