When it comes to breaking out the traditional Indian outfits, no one is quite as committed as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, says the BBC’s Ayeshea Perera.
Justin Trudeau is certainly no stranger to Indian wear – he has regularly worn it during official celebrations of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, which is one of the most important events on the religious calendar. And as his picture from last year’s festival shows, he certainly does not shy away from donning some true Bollywood-style bling.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 17, 2017
While there were a few comments about the elaborate silver motif on his traditional black sherwani at the time, these have absolutely paled in comparison to the reaction he has been getting in India over the past few days.
Mr Trudeau arrived for his first official visit to India on 17 February and has been jet-setting around the country to take part in what appears to be a series of photo ops cunningly designed to showcase his family’s elaborate traditional wardrobe.
The trip, which has just one day of official engagements despite being a full week in duration, has raised eyebrows in Canada with Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre wishing him “another wonderful vacation.”
But Indians are sitting up and taking notice for an entirely different reason. And that is the fact that his outfits have just been so…extra.
The Canadian first family has worn traditional Indian outfits no fewer than three times on their trip so far.
The first time was while they visited the Sabarmati ashram, the residence of Mahatma Gandhi in the western state of Gujarat. The family, wearing colourful casual kurta shirts and garlands of flowers around their necks, posed in front of a traditional spinning wheel before visiting the Akshardam temple where they posed some more with bemused Indian trustees.
Indian media published pictures of the family, commenting on their “festive” and “resplendent” traditional attire with headlines like “Trudeau’s day out”.
They wore more sober but no less elaborate outfits when they visited the Golden Temple, one of the holiest shrines for Sikhs, located in the northern state of Punjab. Mr Trudeau wore a white sherwani with gold thread work, while the rest of his family also had a strong gold theme running through their clothes.
They posed for pictures with heads appropriately bowed and hands folded before Mr Trudeau met Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh who looked visibly underdressed in comparison.
At this point, some people were beginning to notice a trend and were not quite sure it all worked, including the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah.
Is it just me or is this choreographed cuteness all just a bit much now? Also FYI we Indians don’t dress like this every day sir, not even in Bollywood. pic.twitter.com/xqAqfPnRoZ
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) February 21, 2018
But Mr Trudeau was by no means done.
His family met several Bollywood stars in the western city of Mumbai and he wore an elaborate and heavily worked sherwani, more in tune with what a bridegroom would wear…in a Bollywood film. His wife wore an embroidered sari and his children were also decked out in what can only be described as Indian wedding wear.
The outfits stood out all the more because the Bollywood stars around him – who should perhaps take the blame for his wardrobe decisions – were in sober black suits.
And social media just could not stand by in polite silence anymore:
Even if Trudeau was an Indian groom at his wedding reception he’d look ridiculously overdressed. https://t.co/1tQWMOEEKt
— Shivam Vij (@DilliDurAst) February 21, 2018
Meet the newly wed indian couple.#JustinTrudeau wearing indian groom costume and #KristyDuncan wearing typical indian bridal maroon dress standing outside Hindu Temple and Trudeau wearing wedding necklace (Indian wedding custom)
Perfect. #TrudeauInIndia pic.twitter.com/7P8hvEVL5j
— Navdeep Singh (@NavdeepDhingra) February 19, 2018
Even the media headlines considerably changed tone from “resplendent and festive” to “too flashy even for an Indian”.
So far, Mr Trudeau has seemed unfazed by the slew of criticism that has dogged his Indian trip. His office has denied that he is being “snubbed” by the Indian government, and they have brushed off accusations that he is on a “holiday” at state expense.
But his sartorial sense – or the lack of it – has provided enough amusement to Indians.