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Dhoti not cricket, club tells judge

Chennai, July 13: On the cricket pitch, the white flannels have yielded room to coloured pyjamas. But in starchier off-field circles, pyjamas and dhotis are still a no-no, as a high court judge found out in Chennai last week.

Justice T. Hari Paranthaman was denied entry into the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association Club on Friday because he was in a dhoti. Two senior advocates were turned away for the same reason.

Like several clubs in Chennai — or Calcutta — the one run by the state cricket body too bans collarless T-shirts, dhotis, kurta-pyjamas or sandals for male members and guests, though women can wear a sari or salwar-kameez. (See chart)

Justice Paranthaman, who is not a member of the club, had arrived to release a book by a retired high court judge. Club officials accosted him as he got off his car at Chepauk Stadium, from where the club operates, and walked down a corridor towards the elevator.

By then advocate G.R. Swaminathan, who too had come in a dhoti, was arguing with security after being stopped.

“Just then the judge arrived. Club staff sat him down in a sofa at the arrival hall and told him he could not be allowed in because of the dhoti. The judge sat for a few minutes and left,” he told The Telegraph.

An advocate later quoted the judge as expressing surprise that “Tamil Nadu’s traditional attire is not welcome in some places in the state”.

State cricket association secretary Kasi Viswanathan said the dress code applied to everyone, member or guest.

“The book release was a private event and while booking the hall, the organisers had been informed in writing about the dress code for guests. It’s the failure of the organiser not to have mentioned the dress code in his invitation,” he said.

R. Gandhi, another advocate denied entry because of his dhoti, said he would petition the high court against such dress codes.

“Tomorrow another club might say that only those with tonsured heads would be let in, calling it a dress code,” he said.

Only the Cosmopolitan Club among Chennai’s leading clubs allows dhotis. Some five-star hotels used to turn away guests in dhotis but have stopped the practice because it hurt business — the same reason that pyjamas, flag-bearers of the revenue-earning shorter formats, rule the cricket greens.

DOORS SHUT

Some personalities denied entry into clubs in Calcutta for running foul of their dress codes

Ananda Shankar

Barred from Calcutta Swimming Club because he was wearing churidar-kurta. Groups of people had forced their way into the club to protest (1987)

M.F. Husain

Came barefoot to Calcutta Club, which doesn’t even allow sandals

Viv Richards

Arrived at Saturday Club in a collarless T-shirt and jacket. Turned away for not wearing a tie (1987)

Rituparno Ghosh

Calcutta Rowing Club shut its doors because he was in kurta-pyjamas (2006)

Shuvaprasanna

Calcutta Club wouldn’t let him in, deeming his kurta-pyjamas “inappropriate” (2011)