NEW DELHI (Reuters) - One Indian cricket team has withdrawn cheerleaders from matches while others are being told to cover up, after protests that their dances and skimpy outfits were offensive to conservative Indians.
Cheerleaders, many imported from abroad, were hired to liven up India’s new $900 million domestic cricket league in which eight teams play a shortened version of the traditional game.
But while drum players, blaring music and the presence of Bollywood stars cheering among spectators may have livened up stadiums, cheerleaders may be one spectacle too far.
“At the right time of course we will be open to this,” Vijay Vancheswar, vice-president of GMR group that owns the Delhi Daredevils, told local media on Wednesday.
“Having said that, it is a question of priorities and the priority now is to play cricket and there will be no cheerleaders for now,” he said.
The sight of many foreign women and Indians dancing in high boots and skimpy shorts sparked anger from both Hindu nationalists, who opposed their open sexuality, and some leftist parties who said it crudely copied Western culture.
“The manner in which semi-clad girls keep shaking their limbs is in bad taste,” Uddhav Thackeray, head of the hardline Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party was quoted as saying in the Times of India.
Police near Mumbai, where the Mumbai Indians were due to play, said earlier this week they would be watching out for indecency both in the cheerleaders’ dress and dance routine.
The cheerleaders appeared at the match in less revealing outfits -- where there was once exposed cleavages, midriffs and thighs, there was now only skintight lycra.
The local police commissioner later described them as “decent and sober,” according to the Hindustan Times.
But well-known cheerleaders from the Washington Redskins are still performing for the Bangalore Royal Challengers, and there have been no reports that they have toned down their performances.
Reporting by Alistair Scrutton in New Delhi, Jonathan Allen in Mumbai and Sujoy Dhar in Kolkata; Editing by Simon Denyer and John Chalmers