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Assam's Sacred Fabric Gamosa Emerges As Powerful Political Statement In The Times Of CAA

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On December 11, 2019 the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) was passed by the Parliament, following which widespread protests took place across the country. The protestors, mostly college students, came forward to revolt against the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), as it was deemed discriminatory and violated the rights to equality. As the protests became intense, the Prime Minister of the country, Narendra Modi made a statement at Jharkhand election rally, 'From the visuals on TV, those setting the fire can be identified by their clothes.' His statement was heavily criticised as it stereotyped a certain community but there also emerged a powerful fabric statement in this protest - gamosa. The protests in Assam were the most intense and dressed in their gamosa stole and holding the fabric, people came out vehemently raising their voice against the act.

A sacred fabric in the Assamese culture, gamosa or gamocha became the symbol of unity and made a strong case for symbiotic relationship between fashion and protests - well, it gained prominence with khadi in India.

Gamosa goes beyond being a mere fabric and, in fact, cuts through the different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. It is used for different purposes - right from prayers, waistcloth to welcoming the guests, but this time, the status of the fabric elevated as it was used in the political context. Made from cotton, gamosa is woven out of white threads with inlays in red and green mostly. The patterns can be varied from humble floral accents to intricate geometric prints. However, at protests, gamosa went beyond everyday motifs. The people of Assam carried gamosa with slogans like 'No CAB' and 'We Oppose CAB'.

Well, in the times of CAA, gamosa also found a global perspective with protestors in London carrying gamocha. The symbolic fabric seamlessly blended in the present political narrative.

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