The Border Security Force (BSF) will have its first-ever female contingent ride camels alongside their male colleagues in the Republic Day parade on January 26. Ever since it took the role of an Army unit that had been taking part in the annual parade since it began in 1950, the legendary camel contingent of the Border Security Force has been a component of the Republic Day festivities since 1976. The BSF is also the only force in India to use camels for ceremonial and operational duties. The BSF uses them to patrol the Thar desert that runs along the Indo-Pakistan border in Rajasthan.
90 camels make up the contingent on average, 54 of which are used for soldiers and the remaining 40 for the band. The lead camel contingent on Republic Day traditionally has well-groomed BSF border guards with thick mustaches, while the second is followed by bandsmen wearing stunning multicolored outfits while riding camels and playing martial music.
This year half of the camel contingent marching in the famed Republic Day parade will comprise women. These female camel riders, who are from the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, will be marching while wearing ceremonial regalia that was specially created to showcase several priceless Indian craft traditions.
The outfits for the Mahila Prahari were created by Mr. Raghavendra Rathore, a well-known designer who has earned a reputation for himself by supporting Indian tradition and culture and putting “Make in India” at the core of his business. Although the uniform was put together internally at the Raghavendra Rathore atelier in Jodhpur. The Mahila Praharis uniform for the BSF Camel Contingent proudly represents what the BSF contributes to the nation by securing its borders while incorporating historical, sartorial, and cultural characteristics of India. For the women who don this uniform, it is an honor and privilege but an equally proud and humble experience for the designer to serve the nation by resonating with the ethos of the iconic Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur Bandhgala that is stately and classic.
LuxeBook spoke to Raghavendra Rathore to find out more about the contingent’s newly designed uniforms.
Is the uniform similar to the male contingent’s uniform?
Out of all the variations that were created with diverse looks and colours we finally chose to present our version with a special headgear and complete restrain in terms of design accents and bringing the homogeneous look to the squadron. Restrain and Princess seems cut has been used in the long bandhgala, with insignias and details.
Are there any unique elements or elements that stand out?
The Jodhpuri Breeches, while still placing a strong focus on the Bandhgala, served as the original source of inspiration for the uniform’s style. Additions to the design include Zari trimmings and hand methods from all around India, along with accessories like the “Paag” (headgear from the Mewar region), which all came together to complete the overall appearance.
Is there a feminine touch to the uniform? How have you incorporated it?
The Bandhgala cut relies on the princess seam, and the selection of contrasting boots juxtaposed with the light colour of the uniform brings out a unique feminine but strong symbolism, planned to keep in mind the ceremonial status of the parade.
When designing the uniforms was the style important or the functionality?
Both function and style need to work together to achieve a successful look, the idea of uniforms is for it to unify and imbibe the value of what the position stands for in the context to the institution.
Would you say the uniform is comfortable for the women riding the camels?
The flair and the length of the bandhgala is tempered to that of a person mounted, as a ceremonial impression of what the uniform creates is the most important