India, Aug. 2 -- Have you ever wondered what Ram, Lakshman and especially Sita wore when they were exiled from Ayodhya, for 14 long years? They surely could not have been wearing the costly raiment they would normally wear at court, so I like to think that they wore the simplest of hand-spun and hand-woven khadi; the men in classically-draped dhotis or lungis, and the lady in sturdy cotton, softened by many washes and faded to a whisper of its original, vegetable-dyed colour. A small bag of saris and few gamchhas to cover the upper body with would have completed Sita's wardrobe.

Colonial prudes

Cholis and petticoats came much later. These were actually designed to conform to prudish Victorian wardrobe diktats, issued to prevent Indian w...