Renowned designer Ritu Beri came under fire from Nagaland women for ‘hurting sentiments’ of the Nagas.
The Chakhesang Women Welfare Society has slammed designer Beri for showcasing the Chakhesang traditional shawls at Suraj Kund Crafts Mela without their permission.
The executive director of the society, Vechulo-u Kanuo on Thursday expressed shock and anguish at Beri for allegedly making a “mockery” of Chakhesang Nagas’ traditionally woven shawls.
The traditional shawls were developed and preserved over the years by them.
The society said the Chakhesang Nagas, along with other Nagas, strongly condemned designer Beri for “misappropriation” of traditional Naga designs and ethnicity in her collection.
The shawls were showcased in the Suraj Kund Crafts Mela on the theme “Naturally North-East: The Naga Narrative”.
“We are enraged by the humiliation she has caused to the Naga heritage,” Kanuo said.
“Our traditional shawls and attires were woven and designed with deep rooted meanings that are attached to the core of our sentiment as a community.
“Every pattern, symbol and the attires itself all have a meaning of its own. The shawl depicts and symbolized our ethics from times immemorial,” she said.
The society said distortion of “our culture” by Beri is an insult to the Nagas and their forefathers.
“Our sentiments have been deeply hurt and the damage she has done is beyond repair,” she said in a statement.
It said the “Naga Narrative” is not homage to the Nagas but an abuse and violation of tribal identity.
It also condemned the action of the organisers for misusing and distorting the symbols of the shawls that wrongly represent the original concepts and its depictions.
The society said it, as the rightful owner of the shawls and mekhelas, will take all legal recourses against those responsible in committing the misappropriation as per the provisions of law.
It also warned any individual/ groups not to use the attires of the community in any inappropriate manner.
The society presented two versions of the shawl worn by Chankhesang men and women.