Kashmiris love their ‘pherans’. These loose, warm outer garments are typically worn during winters. They are comfortable, practical and as Kashmiri as lungi is to a Malayali or kilt to the Scottish. Given the valley’s surcharged political atmosphere, and an ongoing insurgency that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the recent decades, the last thing Kashmiris expected is a ban on their beloved ‘pheran’.
‘Pheran’ has a long, storied history in Kashmir, and is believed to have a tradition of at least 660 years. Worn over centuries by the inhabitants to brave the harsh winter chill, the garment has worked as a great leveler of the Kashmiri society. It has traditionally dissolved the class difference, being the preferred dress for both the rich and the poor during the cold season. Even when modernity permeated the lives of Kashmiris over the years, the pheran continued to remain a badge of its culture.