In as we speak’s India, clothes selections sign a deepening non secular divide

In today's India, clothing choices signal a deepening religious divide


In a video that has since gone viral on social media, a group of men gather on a dusty street in India’s southern Karnataka state.

Carrying saffron-colored flags and matching scarves, the men chant loudly in unison as they taunt their targets: Muslim women in hijabs who remain huddled in one corner of the street.

The visual confrontation between their black and blue Islamic garments and the raging sea of saffron — a color closely associated with Hinduism — is symbolic of deepening divisions in the country caused, in part, by the rise of Hindu nationalism.

What started in January as a peaceful demonstration by six Muslim students protesting for the right to wear hijabs in their state-run school has morphed into a larger movement defined by gender, religion and clothing. And the arrival, weeks later, of counter demonstrators clad in saffron is indicative of the blurring lines between the Indian state and religion.

The orange-yellow hue, seen as a symbol of divinity in Hinduism, has…