For the first time in half a century, invitees to the Independence Day reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan did not have to wear bandh gallas or lounge suits.
Invitations to Thursday's reception issued by the President's Office did not bear the Dress Code at the right hand corner, as it has done for many years.
President A P J Abdul Kalam, who seems most comfortable in his shirts and trousers, has done away with the formidable sartorial guidelines that all but the most courageous dared to ignore at previous Presidential soirees.
Guests were encouraged to wear whatever they wished -- kurta pyjamas, bush shirts, full sleeve shirts, and, of course, suits and bandh gallas -- provided the attire did not violate the boundaries of good taste. The three service chiefs and other officers of the armed forces, of which Kalam is supreme commander, could wear uniform, but leave their ceremonial swords and scabbards home.
Kalam's dress code is in contrast to his predecessor, who liked his guests to be formally dressed on ceremonial occasions. A bandh galla or suits were compulsory at events hosted by President K R Narayanan, especially when he was traveling abroad.
One television anchor, who decided to forgo the bandh galla for a shirt and trousers on a visit to a neighboring nation, recalled how Narayanan was displeased by his casual attire, inquiring from his staff who the journalist was, and wondering aloud if he could don more formal attire at the next event, because he, like the President, was representing the country!
The 11th President of India: Complete Coverage
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