Traditional costumes are peculiar to or characteristic of a certain nation or ethnic group, which usually retains strong elements of the culture from which it originates. In areas where contemporary Western fashions have become usual, traditional costumes are often worn in connection with special events and celebrations, particularly those connected with cultural traditions, heritage, or pride. Some countries even have their traditional costumes as the uniform of the national airline stewardesses to promote their culture to passengers.
My mother is a big fan of the delicate "ao dai". As a diplomat, she has always brought "ao dai" to introduce to our neighbours around the region. She has a full admirable album of the pictures she took of her dressed gracefully in different types of "ao dai", which I have always looked at with pure admiration. There, I grew up, taking great pride in my traditional costume. Wearing traditional costume shows a sense of loyalty and pride of one's nation; and long ago, I made a promise to myself that one day, I would be like my mother, sharing our love for "ao dai" to the world.
That day had come. Last year, I had the first chance to showcase my "ao dai" to my Singaporean friends during Racial Harmony Day celebration. The schoolyard was painted with a myriad of colours from the traditional costumes. However, I realised that nobody was wearing their ethnic costumes; they were all in the clothes of other races. In one corner, my Chinese-descended friends were struggling to tug the nine-meter-strip of silk into their PE shorts instead of the traditional petticoat of the elegant Indian ladies. I had never expected anything like that. The traditional costume of a race or a nation is something sacred, something that I will never compromise over. It is the symbol of one tradition, a signature of honour and loyalty for a historic culture. Putting on another traditional costume in my opinion then, was plain disrespectful for your own...
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