Cheerleaders are taking Indian cricket by storm, but some are wondering if this conservative India is ready for dancers in packed stadia.
Many foreign cheerleaders have been imported to India with this month's inauguration of the India Premier League (IPL), a shortened form of traditional cricket that transforms the game into a more glitzy U.S.-style sponsored sport event.
But some outraged politicians say it is an affront to Indian culture while a few of the cheerleaders themselves complain lewd comment and insults from spectators is making their job a misery.
The IPL has caught the imagination of India, a nation of 1.1 billion and the world's biggest cricket audience. TV rights sold for more than $900 million and players for eight teams, many imported from abroad, were auctioned for millions.
In contrast to the cliched cricket image of genteel spectators sipping tea while politely applauding their team, now scantily-clad dancers gyrate to Bollywood or Western-style dance music blaring out from loudspeakers in stadia.
"What the cheerleaders are doing during cricket matches is ten times more vulgar than what used to happen in dance bars of Mumbai," Nitin Gadkari, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra state, home to the Mumbai Indians.
The BJP is India's main opposition party, which was part of a coalition which banned popular bars in Mumbai where girls would dance on stage to Bollywood tunes.
"If we could ban dance bars, how can we allow such vulgar dance in a cricket field. I am getting huge complaints and cheerleaders must be banned immediately from entering a cricket field," Gadkari said.
In the IT hub of Bangalore, Parvathi, a housewife, said U.S. cheerleaders were an affront to India.
"What is the purpose of this display? It is embarrassing," said Parvathi.
Labels: Cheerleaders, Cricket, Dancer, IPL