What makes someone find the concept of ghunghat appreciable?

If somebody says they find the concept of ghunghat worthy of being ‘appreciated’ what is it that they are finding appreciable? How does a ghunghat make the wearer worthy of being complimented? What changes?

From what I understand, ghunghat is practiced in most of North Indian states. It involves covering of the face, (only by women) with the end of their sari/dupatta. Ghunghat is observed when married Indian women are in their sasural (in laws’ home, village or even city), and also in presence of the in laws, anywhere, like if they visit the woman’s parental home or village (maika).

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Not observing ghunghat maybe seen as being disrespectful and shameless.

Indian menFrequently, women who observe ghunghat are required to keep their head and face covered in all weather conditions, including while cooking on chulha at 44 degrees Celsius (if there are men around). Also, while traveling, working in fields or during family functions.

DSC_0892Generally women in ghunghat do not sit when those who are considered higher in sasural hierarchy are around, they may not join family discussions; they generally may not talk, sing or laugh in loud voices or do anything to draw ‘undue attention’ to themselves when men or family elders are around. It is considered disrespectful for women (bahu or daughter in law) to address older men directly – obviously they may not look someone in the eye when they do say something, which they generally may not.

Ghunghat is also given as the reason for denying education or work opportunities to married Indian women. It’s ‘in tune with the Indian tradition’.

How do women who observe ghunghat benefit from it?

They become, amongst other things, a good example for other women.

“Look at her. She is an MLA and always wears a ghunghat. She is a regular in the assembly and yet none of us have ever seen her full face.”

What is appreciable about someone’s face not having been seen by others?

Do all the women who observe ghunghat have a choice?

In comparatively modern homes, ghunghat is followed in more liberal forms, some families let women cover only the head (not the face), some married Indian women are expected to wear sari but are allowed  leave their heads and faces uncovered.

If a woman is in ghunghat then it is likely that she is also wearing bichia, sindoor and bangles; and generally following other rules meant specifically for daughters in law to observe in their sasural.

Many urban married Indian women are not forced to wear sari, sindoor, mangalsutra, or observe ghunghat (etc). Looking unmarried or living without the restrictions faced by traditional daughters in law does not earn misogynists’ compliments, but it does seem to elicit reactions like this, ‘When married Indian women strive to look unmarried’.

Some MP lawmakers appreciate women in ‘ghunghat’

“When I was newly married, I used to wear ghunghat which was more than a feet long over my face,” she said. Deputy Speaker Harvansh Singh, who was in the chair, observed: “That must be appreciated. The concept of ghunghat for women is in tune with the Indian tradition.”

Minister for legislative affairs Narottam Mishra also praised women who wear ‘ghunghat’. The deputy speaker then pointed at MLA from Gadarwara in Narsingpur district, Sadhna Sthapak, and said: “Look at her. She is an MLA and always wears a ghunghat. She is a regular in the assembly and yet none of us have ever seen her full face.”

As Harvansh Singh praised her, Sadhna got up from her seat and bowed graciously to accept the ‘compliment’.

Related Posts:

Ditched the dupatta, chucked the chunni – Starry eyed

“Lets keep our pretty saris to times when we just have to eat, pray, and love, cause we are tomorrows’ MILs.”

The sari is the best way of showing global companies that these are Indian women managers?

Sindoor, Tali and Mangalsutra.

When married Indian women strive to look unmarried.

Why do some women see western clothes and being able to flaunt their bodies, without fearing being called sluts, as empowerment?

Be a wife like Sita, wear a sari but don’t get abducted.

The Modern Sari: Some Facts and a Question.

A Sari to make you a Respectable Indian Teacher.

Can’t end marriage over sari ;)

“I seem to have a lot of similarities with the villainous daughters in law of India’s favourite serials.”

“A 28 year old, independent woman who dreams big does not really fit the definition of an ideal Indian DIL.”

He said, “You’re a very beautiful girl, but don’t wear such clothes…”

103 thoughts on “What makes someone find the concept of ghunghat appreciable?

  1. I don’t get the point of covering one’s face when one’s arms and midriff region are bare. The abaya with niqab makes more sense than a sari with a ghunghat.

    I do think clothing should be a matter of personal choice (and I understand that a lot of these women do not have the choice of not choosing to wear one). A lot of women in the US/ Canada get flak for choosing to wear a hijab (etc) and I don’t think that’s fair either.

    This reminds me of my dad’s sister. She was really young when she got married (arranged) and she was going to university. Her MIL told her that she had to wear a sari now that she was married. She said ‘okay’ and wore a sari out of the house, but stopped by the nearest restaurant to change into whatever she pleased and continued with the day. Everybody, including my uncle, thought it was hilarious.

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    • It’s tragic actually. I used to wear only Indian clothes, and go change into jeans in the car when going out with my husband in the first year of our marriage. He travelled a lot, and I used to go join him on his trips just to be able to wear what I wanted for a couple of days in another city.
      Tragic.

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      • She doesn’t look at that time as tragic at all! When she told me about it, she rolled her eyes and said that her MIL was very old and possibly senile, so arguing with her would have been pointless. However, unlike you, she wasn’t bound to the house–she could leave with her friends, etc. So she wasn’t trapped unless her husband took her out or something.I think she made the best of her situation. It’s not like my uncle (her husband) was advising her on what she could not wear.

        I do think people should have a choice though–so if a person chooses to wear a niquab or a ghunghat, I’m okay with that unless they’re driving (an activity that requires peripheral vision) and risking other people’s lives.

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      • I totally agree. Not having the freedom to decide what one wants to wear – I can’t imagine that happening to me, ever! It is not a small thing, as people who are torch bearers of patriarchy condition their daughters to believe.

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  2. Some say that ghungat helps male members of the in laws family to control their libido on seeing the female face….and in case the are unable they can squarely blame woman not taking care of ghungat….

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    • I think the more obvious reason is that having to cover oneself changes one’s self-perception in important ways. Its harder to claim your humanity when you’re shrouded from head to toe.

      Veiled women are easier to control because they’re psychologically easy to manipulate.

      All attempts to break the human spirit begin with the imposition of strict rules on attire and appearance. They suppress individuality.

      Prison populations would be harder to control if prisoners were allowed to dress as they please.

      The same applies to the veiling of women.

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      • Well said biwo, excellent comment, gunghat/burqa/hijab etc etc all in name of so called culture/tradition is simply means to keep women in control and strip her of her humanity. Loved the prison analogy, all these rules in name “oh so great culture” are nothing but a prison for women taking away her freedom and dignity.

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      • Biwo, you summarized it well. A faceless human being can easily lead to a voice-less, identity-less being. I find it to be a very humiliating custom, and it succeeds in making these women invisible, in every sense.
        Yes, like some regressive prisons, we can do away with names, assign numbers.

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      • “Its harder to claim your humanity when you’re shrouded from head to toe. ”
        Biwo…I think it extends to that famous item of clothing most of us wear (and which I have almost entirely removed from my wardrobe now)…the dupatta. I have been wanting to write a post on it. Utterly superfluous piece of clothing…I only wear it now if it adds to the elegance of the dress.

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        • A friend’s friend once famously said, “I’d shoot the person who invented the dupatta!” And I agree wholeheartedly. Waiting for your post @Starsinmeyes

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        • Haha Stars, the dupatta has its uses. I’ve just returned from a team lunch and had to trudge in the hot sun back from the parking lot. My dupatta was a lifesaver today. I agree about its superflousness otherwise.
          Its just that men stare at breasts so much here in Bangalore. Sometimes its comforting to not be ogled at because you’re all covered in the chest region.

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        • Read your post (visited your blog for the first time and liked it very much).
          You describe very well how we are all made to feel so uncomfortable and ashamed of our bodies. I remember walking home from tutoring, as a teen, with a bunch of other girls. Some boys would stare, pass rude remarks, and snigger. My reaction, strangely, was embarrassment, shame. I never understood this as a teen, but now I do.

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    • Having cash/jewellery at home or in the bank is a person’s wish. When somebody steals them they are called thieves and put in prison. They do not have a right to steal somebody else’s property.

      If these kind of men can’t control their ******* and brains, shouldn’t they all be behind bars???? Maybe they should be blinded so that they don’t see women/girls/kids any more. Well, there are others who might say, you have cash/jewels at home and that’s why they attacked you.

      Every day the newspapers have stories about gang-rapes and child molestation etc. I can’t really understand what these kind of people think and feel as soon as they see a woman. Is sex and rape all that they can think about??? I’ve heard of wearing your heart on your sleeve, and these people seem to have made it “wearing their ****** on their pants”

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  3. Nothing can make anyone (whosoever) find the concept of Ghunghat/Burqua appreciable. Period.

    Those who find it so are the one who believe in the age-old oppressive customs convenient for them.

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  4. All those MEN who ‘appreciate’ghunghat are simply admitting that they are shamelessly ignoring/devaluing/defaming Indian ‘culture and traditions’by not wearing Dhoti.

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  5. I have had the strange experience of growing up in a family with no concept of ghungat at all (South and West Indian by origin) and then getting married to a Rajasthani. Whule my husband and in laws think ghungat is silly, I do have to respect these norms when we visit the village or elderly relatives in my sasural. I can write a book about how I feel in these situations, the reactions I get etc. The appreciation for being highly educated and independent and yet respecting the tradition of the ghungat is hilarious. But I do understand that ghungat is also a cultural thing. In Rajput households, women wear the ghungat and drink and smoke, separately but also increasinly in the same spaces as their menfolk. It’s an evolving thing. Yes, many women have no choice but its a far more complex concept than good or bad, black or white…

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    • You are right ghunghat is a cultural thing. So was sati. Why would you call it a grey area just because certain culture demand it? Why can’t something be condemned outright just because it is part of some culture. Is it because in return these women are allowed to drink and smoke? What purpose does ghunghat serve even to come in grey area?

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      • Agree with purple sheep.

        It’s about time we stopped granting immunity to ‘cultural’ things. The UK didn’t act on forced marriages in south asian communities for a long time because it was seen as a ‘cultural’ thing. After many horrific cases of abuse, it’s finally moving to criminalise forced marriage. Some practices are wrong and incompatible with equality. Being affiliated with a culture or religion is irrelevant.. it simply means there is a powerful bit of brainwashing behind those practices and it’s even more necessary to raise awareness.

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        • Well said @Carvaka, “Being affiliated with a culture or religion is irrelevant.. it simply means there is a powerful bit of brainwashing behind those practices and it’s even more necessary to raise awareness.”

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        • Absolutely. As a grad student in the US, I remember my thesis advisor telling me how her Indian friend initially endured horrific abuse at her in-laws place in India.

          She’d been told by her Indian friend about dowry deaths and that it was common for Indian in-laws and husbands to treat the wife/DIL badly. She said this when all of us had gone out for a drink and there were students from ten different countries.

          Everybody turned to look at me and another Indian student with a look that said “Jeez, what kind of society does that? Its really hard to feel proud of being Indian at times like these.

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    • I come from a liberal Punjabi family. My maternal aunt (masi) got married to a Rajput ( It was a love marriage) Though that kind of a marriage was vastly unacceptable in a Rajasthani, Rajput society, my uncle fought for it and finally everyone agreed. I won’t get into the details of theis 26-27 years old marriage, but a recent one. My cousin got married last year, and I saw a Rajasthani wedding for the first time. My masi is now conditioned to believe in their so called “rich” culture and heritage. She even asked me to do a post about this wedding, which I will tear apart, if I ever write on.

      I was shocked to see Ghunghat clad women everywhere. My masi doesn’t wear one coz her in-laws are ‘liberal’. These urban women ( I am talking of the city , Jodhpur, in particular) wear ghagra-choli everyday at home or while working ( my masi is the Principal of a a Public shcool and she wears that while at work)

      In a Rajput wedding, women from the groom’s side aren’t allowed in the barat or at the wedding venue. They just wait for the bride and groom to arrive home after the wedding. Being the fighter that I am, I made a huge hue and cry that I wanted to see my bro getting married, no matter what! I was not allowed in the barat, but carefully sent away to the wedding venue with a relative who was common to both bride’s and groom’s side.

      More shock was round the corner as I entered the venue. There were different tents for ladies and men. The men’s tent was HUGE. Liquor was being served by default instead of cold-drinks/coffee/soup. There were NO women in the tent. I was quickly hushed out of that place into a different and much smaller area.

      The food arrangements for women were hardly 10% of what was being served in the men’s area. Discriminating in food, on the basis of gender was the FIRST for me. But then, i would give them the benefit of doubt that the arrangements for guests are better than for hosts ( in terms of money, etc) and since they were not expecting any women guests :P

      The bride came in, dressed in red and a ghunghat till her waist. She was sporting it, till the end of the ceremony and no one saw her face. No need to rush to a parlor on your big day- as no one is going to see you anyway!

      For the first few days after the wedding, a working woman, MBA was seen clad in ghunghat full time. She even ate her food from inside the ghunghat. When I asked, she casually remarked that she knew this and was prepared for it. I asked my masi and she told that after the relatives/guests leave, we’ll ask her to leave the ghunghat alone. But, my brother was roaming around, in shorts – which are also not Rajput/Indian culture. He was making merry, drinking and partying with his friends while the bride had to sit with older ladies sporting a ghunghat.And surprisingly, she was okay with this treatment because it is conditioned into her since childhood.

      On a different note, a young Rajput lady ( married to an army-man, living outside Rajasthan, wearing everything she wants to, doing anything she loves doing) told me something I can never forget. She came up to me and said, we need to have inter-cultural marriages in Rajasthan so that parents of daughters married outside, see how things have changed and thier age old traditions are like rotten tomatoes. But she ws even worried for women who would marry into Rajasthani families, leaving behind their independence.

      As biased as we arr towards men, as a nation I think Rajasthan is the worst of the lot.

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      • Sounds terrible! I’m from a Rajput family but not from Rajasthan and have never even heard of these customs. The conditioning runs so deep and dissent is so costly that most women just carry on doing this stuff. Never questioning. Although Rajasthan is another one of those ‘honour’ bound places where they can kill women over honour, so I understand not wanting to rock the boat.

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        • I know! I even came to know that in rural families, the DIL must not sit until the in-laws are standing. When they sit, the DIL must sit at a position which is lower in height to the in-laws. They are no better than slaves.

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  6. I find the concept of ghunghat really confusing because in Kerala only Muslim women cover their hair. If you walk into a temple with your head covered the poojari will ask you to remove it because it is seen as disrespectful. I myself have been scolded by my grandma when I tried on a saree and covered my head:she told me to stop because I looked “like a fisherwoman”.
    The only time I’ve seen people in full ghunghat are on Hindi serials.

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    • B, in the north of India where there were generations of Islamic rule, so I think it’s partly islamic influence. It’s quite ironic that right wing hindus try to espouse the many virtues of ‘indian culture’ which originally were islamic/ christian victorian influences (like ‘modest’ dressing, hindu women didn’t even wear blouses under sarees).

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  7. The poor patriarchs try so hard to wipe out women’s identities when they marry, they can finally rest when women cover their entire faces and don’t speak at all. Ofcourse we should appreciate it! *Rolling eyes*

    A neighbour from Rajasthan told us she had to be in ghunghat whenever she visited her in laws (even though she lived in Mumbai and wore salwar suits regularly and the husband worked in a big company). Not only could she not sit with other male members of the family, she was not allowed to speak to her own husband in the presence of ANY family members at all!

    Ofcourse, it goes without saying that if you’re following ghunghat, you’re also following every other rules for married women. It is but a symbol of compliance and obedience and that’s exactly what the MLA seems to love. Men will say that this is to protect women and prevent temptation but that’s just rubbish. The ghunghat/ parda advertises subservience of women, acceptance of lack of self control in men and a victim blaming culture. Rapes and crimes against women are higher in such places, not lower http://aamjanata.com/a-girl-who-grew-up-in-rajasthan/ .

    It is absolutely shameful that this woman and MLA made such comments in assembly. Will they be praising sati in assembly next? Even worse is the realisation that this man and woman represent the views of their electorate. The sooner such ‘indian culture’ dies off, the better.

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  8. I guess the poor Swiss woman who was camping after getting lost was not wearing a ghunghat. So you know, the Indian men in Datia thought she should be following Indian traditions more.
    SICK!!!

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  9. Insightful post. It’s more a tale of exploiting and repressing women under the garb of religion. This is what I feel.
    Vishal

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  10. Its a choice , i may not like it but if someone does then i have to shut up.
    A friend who lives close to us in mumbai has her in-laws place in Up somewhere and when she visits she covers her head with her dupatta or sari ( or so she claims) . she also doesnt sit in the sofa with her FIL. however when sh’es in her place i have not seen her in a sari , mostly jeans/kurti and salwars. she finds it funny that i wear sarees to work sometimes, i think they look georgeous and i have a fantastic collection . but when her in-laws visit her here she doesnt change, they adjust to her life.

    her philosophy is that she follows their society in their place and they follow her rules in her house. the ghunghat doesn’t bother her. If she doesnt feel like complying she simply refuses to go to her in-laws place for the festivals :-) yes she doesn’t like to eat after the men there so when she’s helping cooking, she tastes, eats and her MIL lets her get away with it. her FIL and horrid BIl found out once she was snacking on food before serving it ot the men, but couldn’t do a thing. they cant cook so telling her to stop cooking would starve them all. so they let it pass as long as ‘ log’ didnt know. :-)

    just like hijab it’s a choice. if i choose to wear just the saree always thats my choice, if i choose to live like a door mat – again my choice. It’s only when we are forced to do it or else… or forced to do to please society.. or it becomes a burden that i object. but for that to change women should stand up and say no. i wont wear the ghunghat. and face the consequences. that is a long way off.. educate your girls and empower them and then see it happen.

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    • I am so scared of getting married to an Indian guy now. WTF with men in the family having this entitlement to be served food first while they sit of their god damn ass all day long. How do educated working women put up with these indignities, how are they so brainwashed to not see how blatantly they are disrespected in name of so called customs?

      If I ever have the misfortune to end up in such a family, I would refuse to visit the in-laws where I am expected to cook and serve such men, why should I do that? I am the visiting guest. What would the hubby do? Drag me there kicking and screaming? Jeez Indian marriage seems no fun at all for the woman if I can support myself financially.

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    • “Its a choice”
      I don’t know what it means for it to be a choice here. If you just prefer wearing loose clothing, that’s a choice. However, ghunghat, burqa, pardah – these are not objective ‘choices’, they are choices that happen within a context of accepted social/ religious ‘norms’ for women, never defined by women themselves. Perhaps the women who have grown up knowing only this find it ok to carry on this way, but does that make it a choice? Before Ambedkar came along, dalits remained hindus even though it demanded such a horrible way of life from them. Was that a choice?

      “If she doesnt feel like complying she simply refuses to go to her in-laws place for the festivals”
      So then it’s not her choice to wear the pallu on her head or not. Effectively, her choice is to either wear the pallu on her head or be excluded from family events. A choice out of very limited options then, no?

      “she doesn’t like to eat after the men there so when she’s helping cooking, she tastes, eats and her MIL lets her get away with it”
      If eating when you want can only happen because someone ‘lets you get away with it’, then is it a choice? Sounds like her choice would be eat openly and along with other humans in house. If she is forced to do it in secret inside the kitchen and still only allowed to do it as long as ‘log’ don’t know, is she exercising her choice?

      She may be ok with this, often that’s the path of least resistance, but that does not make it a ‘choice’. Questioning the context is important.. otherwise women will keep making this choice forever.

      “if i choose to live like a door mat – again my choice”
      True. However, if you have no real option but to live like a doormat, then it’s not your choice. It’s important to differentiate.

      “but for that to change women should stand up and say no. i wont wear the ghunghat. and face the consequences…. educate your girls and empower them and then see it happen.”
      Fully agree with this bit. :)

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      • Agree completely Carvaka. The Ghunghat should not be a ‘choice’. It’s not just a different form of clothing. It is so demeaning. The bhurka has been banned in France for this very reason. Something so humiliating can never be treated entirely as a ‘personal choice’. Let’s not forget that Sati was a choice for some women, if not all. Queen Padmini ‘chose’ to go to Sati and led 100s of other women who ‘chose’ to follow her. And yet, we’ve banned this horrendous practice now. A Ghughat may not take away a woman’s physical life (unlike Sati) but it takes away her face, her spirit, her voice. It erases her presence more subtly than Sati does – and with it’s subtlety, it’s effect is more deadly.

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        • I am sorry, but I do personally know a lot of strong women who wear the Hijab, women who have choices, who have seen the world, and yet choose to wear it from their sense of religion. I think we shouldn’t be hasty too judge cultures/religions we don’t belong to or don’t completely understand, and what France did was quite outrageous and amounts to violation of a person’s individual rights to the practice of their religious beliefs.

          I am myself atheist, of Hindu origin, and wouldn’t dream of covering myself up in any way, so I do not understand why people make this choice. But I just know too many strong women in hijab to pity them, or to doubt the agency they have in their lives and actions. It may not be my choice, but I cannot question the validity of theirs simply because of this difference.

          The case of women who are obviously marginalized in other ways(educationally, financially) is different, of course, as in the case of the women in these pictures. But sometimes, the hijab IS a choice, and we have no higher liberal moral ground that we can condemn it from, because we can wear as little as we like, but STILL be objectified by the male gaze, STILL be oppressed by patriarchy. We’re all in this together, dealing with the same problems, heads covered or not.

          Sometimes, her hijab is just as feminist as your burnt bra:

          http://feminspire.com/my-hijab-is-just-as-feminist-as-your-burnt-bra/

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        • Blinkdot I am undecided on this but,

          1. I think it was Salman Rushdie who said that when women who have a choice support misogynistic ideas, they betray their sisters who do not have that choice (and many other choices).

          2. I also feel, support for anything would be seen with less suspicion if there was no risk involved in condemning the same thing.

          About the Burka and Bikini comparison, I have blogged here, http://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2010/02/25/bikini-vs-burka-the-debauchery-of-women/

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        • Blinkdot, I have a friend who doesn’t wear a hijab but her sister does. When I asked my friend how come she doesn’t wear it but her sister does, she told me it was a choice in her family. They are educated, refined, etc., so I agree with you that she chose this form of attire. When I talked to her sister once about her hijab, she said she believes in modesty, and this includes not letting out even a strand of hair. Because of her modesty, her daughter cannot ride a bike at the park or swim at the school. He daughter is unhappy about it, but doesn’t complain too much. I can see how she can slowly get ‘used to’ this idea and then as an adult ‘choose’ a hijab. The girl’s mother also believes that her ‘beauty’ must only be viewed by her husband. Personally I feel very uncomfortable with this idea – it sounds downright medieval – as if women are objects and men can’t control their urges. Yes these women are educated and have careers but I think in this one respect, they’re not really questioning what this mode of dress stands for and how it takes away simple joys for this little girl.

          Doing something in the name of my religion – if it is demeaning to me i- s not acceptable to me – and there are tons of Hindu customs that are demeaning (I’m a Hindu and not trying to pick on any one religion) – breaking bangles for the widow is just one example. What if a woman is educated, has a career, but decides to break her bangles out of ‘choice’ because her beliefs in the Manusmruti are strong. What do we say to that? That would be a disturbing trend, wouldn’t it?

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        • @blinkdot
          1.The reason why a lot of people view the ‘hijab as a choice’ argument with some skepticism is the fact that for the MAJORITY of women in that religion , world-over, it is not a matter of personal choice, but an enforced way of life.
          (This is the same argument a lot of girl’s families use to continue to propagate the dowry system – ‘it was our own wish’).

          2.In communities (in a free and equal society, say the UK) where enough numbers of women make this choice, they automatically ‘re-set’ the minimum parameters of modesty for that particular place, and any woman who does not make the same choice is basically viewed as immodest, sometimes with real consequences, including death. In such an environment, choice is a matter of debate. I would judge the free-ness of a choice by the absence of consequences to making a different choice-wouldn’t you?

          3.That being said, what France did was wrong, IMHO. The State should not ‘ban’ ways of dressing.But that’s France, and they have a policy of ‘extreme secularism’

          I fully support the right of anyone to wear what they want to, but I do reserve my right to view certain choices the way I want to. I take issue with 2 things- ‘forcing’ women to wear a garment , and using religion as an excuse to support the garment, because I personally believe that it’s about being modest for men.

          (P.S Maybe I’m biased, but my best friend growing up was somebody forced to wear the hijab to school If she refused,her dad would slap her. She was passionate about architecture, but wasn’t sent to college despite her pleas. Today, she lives in the Middle East, wears the hijab and calls it her ‘choice’- I suppose you have to have that self preservation? )

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        • Another question I have regarding this “my faith requires me to be modest, and I choose to be modest’ theory. What about the MEN?? They are allowed to be immodest?? And women can ogle at them all they want, see their ‘beauty’? Why are the men not choosing to be modest along with their women? Boys can ride bikes and swim in public places but girls can’t? Why the double standards? This is where the ‘choice by culture/religion’ theory falls apart.

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      • In 99% of the cases I agree it could be coercion. That is why I said empower the girls, in my friends case I think it’s simply a matter of keeping peace. Her in laws live per her rules when they visit her and he lives per their rules when she is its their place.
        It’s is a choice she makes. Sure he can fight out there for her rights but she chooses to follow their rules. Letsjust say she’s not very conforontational if not on her turf.
        I also have a friend living in the US who wears te hijab. Divorced, one and very much a content woman . It is her choice to cover. Whatever be the reason and we ave to accept that.
        But I agree with what you say, most women do it because thy have no choice or don’t know any better

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        • Just this last Sunday we went out with our friends for lunch. There was a group of about 6-7 young girls beside our table. They were having so much fun, laughing aloud,pulling each other etc. When it was time to leave, 5 of them went over to the toilet and when they came back I was shocked to see them in their hijab (or should I say burkha-coz they were wearing the full dress thingy, head covered with a scarf, except for the face).

          So, if the reason for wearing it is because other men should not see them and their clothes, how were they sitting in a restaurant filled with other men, till it was time for them to leave??? It looked as if they were cheating themselves and the people who have forced them to wear it.

          So are they empowered for choosing not to wear it where they know they can hide it and have fun OR are they scared to go back to their homes without the burkha??? Why this double standards?

          At the same time, I do have Muslim friends and they and their families do not wear the burkha.

          Like

      • IHM said: ” I also feel, support for anything would be seen with less suspicion if there was no risk involved in condemning the same thing.”

        This! If you can not choose either way without serious ramifications then you are obviously more likely to choose the same option again and again.

        Blinkdot, I disagree that I cannot hold a view on a practice just because I don’t belong to that religion. Every philosophy should allow itself to be subjected to objective analysis. Science allows anyone to question a prevailing theory and I strongly disagree that there anything special about religion or culture that I cannot question.

        My MIL is a well travelled, strong and independent woman. She runs her own business, knows her mind and is an important part of decision making in the house. She lights a diya at the little shrine at home every day except when she has periods. She fully believes that she should be excluded from all religious practises when she has her period. Do you think this is an objective choice, just because she is a strong woman making this choice?

        Her religion taught her to believe that god does not want her when she is ‘impure’, even thought god made her biology. Religion taught her this rule and religion also (conveniently) taught her not to question religion. When a practice has a cultural or religious basis, it is important to understand the powerful bit of brainwashing and supposed consequences behind it (isolation, hell etc).

        I do agree that banning the burqa is not the way to go but not because I believe it’s a choice. I just think mainstraem marginilisation pushes people further into conforming with their own community. Persecution makes religion even more a part of your identity. It’s counter productive.

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        • The practice of staying away from all religious/group activities, kitchen etc happen in my in-laws family too. My MIL is a traditional and religious lady. She told me to stay away from kitchen when I got my period while she was visiting us. She even served me tea in my bed. But the logic that she offered for this practice is that since women are not feeling well and might be weak due to bloodloss, they are kept from working to get rest. There is nothing ‘untouchable’ or ‘impure'(At this point she touched my hand to show me she meant it).
          What other women in our huge joint family think and how they behave is another story that drives me crazy.

          Making something look like it is important religion wise might have been just a way to make sure people follow it in good old days. But today, those beliefs are followed without trying to understand the reason behind them. It is also remarkable how it is almost always about women!

          Anyways, If I am not allowed in the kitchen, fair enough. I do not feel like doing anything during that time!

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        • Of course you can hold a view! I simply meant that maybe we should not judge it. The friends I have who wear the hijab do choose to wear it, but they are strong women, and even though I do NOT understand their choice, I choose to respect it. Third wave feminism is a movement with many facets, and being inclusive is one of its key ideas. I do not understand these, but there ARE feminists who change their last names(world-famous, landscape-changing ones, too), those who wear signs of marriage, and so on. If a woman calls herself a feminist, I accept it, because I do not have any authority on feminism. Similarly, when my friends who wear hijabs say it’s a choice, and I see them exercising their individual freedom in every walk of life, I accept it.

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        • Also, I do not believe in the burkha vs. bikini argument either to begin with, IHM, and you address it amazingly!

          What I was saying is, maybe we should not dismiss individual choices as oppressive when they ARE individual choices. This can be very annoying to those who are being made a judgment on. I myself am an old school believer in just NOT doing anything which remotely reeks of patriarchy, but clearly there are women who feel otherwise, and at the end of the day, it is what about women feel.

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        • Also, the pressure to reveal is a very real and existent pressure on young women in the west, and wearing the hijab is some women’s strategy against that.

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        • @blinkdot, I understand what you are saying and I am aware of choice feminism. I support women’s (and men’s) right to make their own choices, but I don’t think every choice is a feminist choice. I don’t think these two things are mutually exclusive. I might choose to change my last name even being a feminist because I am so in love (or any other reason) but that does not make it an egalitarian choice. I am not being judgemental, just being clear.

          This is why I said that if women from certain cultures/ religions/ age continue to make the same choices, even when these choices appear to not be in their interests, then we shouldn’t look the other way because ‘it’s their choice’. Rather, we must look into the context and try to understand why certain women are making the same choice even when it appears to be unfavourable to them. Otherwise every bit of conditioning can simply be explained away as choice.

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        • Carvaka, for some reason I cannot reply to your newer comment but you put exactly what I am trying to say more lucidly than I could ever have! Thank you.

          Like

        • ‘……that god does not want her when she is impure….’
          Actually that is not what is taught. It is beleived that to pray/worship,one needs to concentrate,focus all of one’s energy.Now,I am sure you are familiar with the concept of aura.It is said that right after a bath,one is weak as one’s aura has been washed off.Similarly,when a bodily fluid is making an exit,i.e.,,during a woman’s period,she becomes weak.She does not have all the necessary energy to focus on her ritual which is prayer.Hence,she is exempt from doing Puja.That is all.Obviously this whole idea somehow got misinterpreted down the years and bame twisted to read impure.I read this somewhere,plus a ‘gemologist’ is what they are called I think, also explained this same concept in his book,saying the women folk are advised to remove the ring (or whatever piece of jewellery with a special gem in it that they wear which brings them’luck’ in life ) during their period.Unfortunately,I dont remember the website or the book’s name.

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        • @ aarti,

          I don’t see how those reasons you stated are any better than the ‘impure and god doesn’t want you in those days’ argument. Considering that neither ‘auras’ nor the effect of gems have ever been proven scientifically, I do not accept those arguments for forcing women into seclusion. Who decides that a woman is weak when a bodily fluid is flowing out of her? What biological understanding do the heads of religion have? Why are sweaty people not banned from praying?

          Also, ” It is beleived that to pray/worship,one needs to concentrate,focus all of one’s energy.”.. so are we saying that except for menstruating women, everyone is capable of concentrating and focuses all their energy while praying? That’s a very tall claim. So why just exclude menstruating women? Don’t you see that claiming that women are somehow missing some energy when they menstruate is itself discriminatory? Not to mention it’s not true for all women at all times. If I am feeling weak or not in the mood for praying, then it should be up to ME to decide to skip a ritual. To make a rule that women must be excluded when menstruating is not for their own benefit at all.

          I would also question whether it is taught in the way you mention. I have been told first hand by people in villages I have visited in West India that they made temples a bit outside the village so that menstruating women wouldn’t accidentally go near the temple. Is this not because they consider these women as something that should be kept away from god?

          Like

  11. It is so true that covering up of the body, specially the head/face has been a tool to control and dominate women. Over the course of time, whenever women tried to shun such a control over them, it was conveniently linked to religion so that women could further be controlled. And it is a part of almost every religion.

    I have seen countless urban ladies covering their heads while entering a temple. It is simply too obvious in Islam where women wear a burqa while going out. Didn’t we see pictures of Katrina Kaif covering her head while visiting Ajmer Sharif? Even the Christian brides can be seen wearing a veil over their faces during the wedding in the church.

    So, whenever women try to overthrow such weird customs, religion imposes compulsions so that they be kept under control of the men. And quite often, women themselves accept it as a religious norm. Didn’t we see hundreds of muslim women protesting against the ban on burqas/hijabs in France? In fact, they saw it as their right to dress as they wanted to.

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    • ” it was conveniently linked to religion”

      There is an inherent concept of ‘original sin’ (even eating the apple before adam) or ‘temptation’ attached to women, because the big religions all see women from the eyes of those who made religion – men. Women only come into the picture in relation to men.

      ” And quite often, women themselves accept it as a religious norm.”

      True. So many hindu women practise exclusion during their periods considering themselves impure. Why would you believe in a religion that tells you that god made you and yet you are impure due to your biology? You wouldn’t unless you were brainwashed into it since early childhood and taught never to question.

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      • I don’t know if its factually or historically correct or not, but some people in my family claim that the practise was originally intended for women’s well-being.

        My father says that it originated as a means to provide R&R to women, who were otherwise burdened with heavy household and childcare duties, combines with oppressive in-laws/customs. It was a recognisiton of women’s weakened states during menstruation.

        While that’s all fair and good, what purpose did the custom of having a separate room along with linen, clothing and utensils serve? Also, the menstruating woman could not touch or be touched by others. What was that for?

        Anybody here who’s investigated the origins of these unfair customs in Hinduism? Were they well-meaning originally but distorted later on?

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        • I don’t buy the argument that it was for women’s good, for the very reasons you state biwo. They were often put in cow sheds and couldn’t touch food etc. I think it was basically ‘Ewww, get her away from me!’.

          Besides, it’s rubbish that all women are weakened by menstruation. I feel just fine. Also, what about when they are ill? Why doesn’t religion say that when men or women have diarrhoea/ common cold/ a headache, they must not pray/ participate/ touch food? I think the focus is very much on the ‘impure’ and not on ‘let her rest’. What about hindu temples that say women are not allowed in them at all? Doesn’t that seem to be an extension of the ‘women=impure’?

          At best, I can imagine that it was for hygeine purposes before people had sanitary napkins but we have them now, so why don’t people get over it? Because it’s still a good way to shame women and make them feel ‘impure’.

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        • I agree Carvaka. Its just that I often wonder how these unfair customs and practises actually came about. The sindoor, the covering of the head, the fasting for the husband, the giving away during kanyadan, the lighting of the funeral pyre by sons, the worshipping of the husband, the shunning of widows. The list is endless. Hinduism is more oppressive to women than most other major religions, including Islam.

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  12. I think that these coverings- whether ghunghat or hijab- are meant to enforce modesty in a very sexual sense. They are prevalent in cultures where women are looked at only as sex objects, and hence ‘covering’ the sex object with fabric is seen as a viable solution to prevent male access to said object.
    It doesn’t matter if it’s a woman being forced to don a ghungat by her in-laws, or another woman donning the hijab out of choice, the basic principle is the same- cover up , else you’re ‘uncovered’ and thus fair game. I find allusions to religion and tradition and culture to be false explanations, let’s be honest, it’s all about the men.

    Like

    • “It’s all about the men”
      Isnt every aspect of women’s life about men? Their convenience, their interests, their needs, their pleasure?

      I often imagine what it would be like to be born female but not be raised with training to cater to male needs, without internalising male-centric notions of a “good” woman, a “good” wife, a “good” helpmeet.

      Yup I sound like a radical feminist here. :)

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  13. My mother lives in India so I don’t get to see her everyday. Yet, when I talk to her on the phone, I automatically visualize her face, her smile, and sometimes even her worried expression. I imagine her tucking a stray wisp of hair behind her ear, when she’s nervous. Even when I’m not talking on the phone, so many times I think of her casually. When I’m cooking, I may remember how her eyes would go wide in panic when she put too much salt in the curry, then she would touch her hand to her forehead with an “Ayyo!”, then she would smile at her own haste.

    A face has a million different expressions. It holds together a lifetime of experiences, feelings, and memories. It is so distinctive to every person. In many ways, our unique facial expressions define who we are. Taking away a face in the name of Ghunghat may sound like just another tradition, but to me it seems pretty heartless. What memories will these Gunghated women’s children have of their mother’s face, their mother’s love, her anger, her surprise, her laughter?

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    • LOVE this comment! Your narrative about your mother makes me think of mine, who has one of the most expressive faces in the world. I rarely have to hear her say something, because just one look makes it clear what she thinks. Faces and facial expressions are a crucial part of communication, and if you can’t see the person you are speaking to, really, how well can you understand what they mean to say?

      Your question is very interesting – what DO these children see? I mean, very young children, infants, gauge their surroundings by the expressions on their caregivers’ face (which is most cases is the mother). So if these children never get to see her face, how can they possibly understand her feelings? In your words,

      [her] love, her anger, her surprise, her laughter.

      Like

    • Let alone children, I have heard accounts from old people of how husbands never saw their wife’s face till she was old and yet had a brood of 6-8 children on an average. What a damned matrimony! Did they ever fall in love?
      Perhaps that is where poets got the idea that ghunghat is an object of romance and poetry for what it hides is a beautiful(hopefully) secret .

      Like

  14. Strangely ghunghat reminds me of pinkfloyd video we don’t need no education. It erases individuality and equates women to herds. Also it’s another form of victim blaming. It’s like rather than men respecting women, they are asking women to protect themselves from roving eye. Are on the family so incestous and lacking in control that women have to hide themselves? Also I do not believe it is a matter of individual choice. What about women who have seen no other life? Who have been brought up seeing their mothers and grandmothers in ghunghat?who were not given education and dependent on their families? Who have not stepped out of their village?

    Like

    • Ghoonghat is also observed by women who are educated, employed and otherwise strong, cosmopolitan women.

      My friend’s neighbour A was showing us pictures of her sasural in Rajasthan. We pointed at a picture of a veiled woman standing next to A’s husband and asked who that was. It was A, with a five-inch ghoonghat. In Bangalore, A dresses in jeans and Ts, and admits that she enjoys watching porn with her husband. In her sasural, she is the traditional DIL.

      She tried to resist the custom initially but gave in because of the strength of the opposition, especially from other village elders.

      What I’m trying to say is that it appears that the ghunghat is a very entrenched custom in some communities/families that

      Like

  15. For what it’s worth from my perspective as a U.S.er of Indian immigrant parents, it seems appreciation of ghunghat doesn’t have anything to do with the woman making the “choice” to do so. The appreciations sounds to be of the oppressive forces that keep patriarchy in place. I can hear uncles saying “haan, very good, you don’t pose a threat to my power, very good.”

    In who’s interest is it to carry on traditions that don’t distribute power fairly?

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  16. I’m no expert on India but I have only seen this in U.P. when I went to the Taj Mahal. The women were out doing construction, carrying various things on their head and I just remember feeling like this was somewhat absurd. My husband told me some women do that but never really explained why.

    Your post gets me to thinking about a few things. First off, why does a woman need to look married? Her body will change naturally with marriage (thanks to stress and offspring), isn’t that enough? And why do some people expect so many outward shows of marriage? Why isn’t sindoor enough? I don’t need answers to these. My general point is that it is never enough. These outward show’s of marriage are meaningless. A woman could still cheat, may even be more desirable to someone who doesn’t want to have to marry but just wants sex, etc. I understand the tradition however, like you mention, it’s heavily slanted toward women to keep up all these traditions and not men. It’s as if all the burden of everything is being cast on women. This is a growing trend worldwide.

    I’ve read books talking about women who never leave their sasural and observe purda. It’s difficult for me to think of these things and the torture a woman must put herself through to prove her worth. Shouldn’t she have been worth something when the man picked her? If he didn’t feel that way, then he never should have married her.

    Like

  17. My grandmother is 65 now and in the household which was once her joint in-laws’ family before she and my grandfather moved out with their children more than 20 years ago, there is no one alive now who would dare to censure her/say anything snide to her. She is well-loved and very much respected. But the moment she steps out of the car in that lane when we are going there for some family occasion, she pulls on the ghomta(as it is said in Bengali) like it’s a reflex action! :O After all these years, she cannot forget her conditioning. This reaction on her part amazes me every time.

    Anyway, when she lived in that household, she would often dress traditionally, and once in the car with my grandfather, start peeling off jewelry and even traditional blouses to reveal more fashionable ones underneath. This part of my family is the most traditional part. When my mom used to visit them after HER marriage, it would be the only place where she decided she was tired of fighting the feminist battle, and wore shakha-pola and other signs of marriage. She told me a story that my paternal grandmom(her m-i-l) would have a pair for her on standby and when she was visiting these uber-conservative relatives, she would ring the bell from the street on her way to their place from work and my grandmom would chuck these and a pot of sindoor at her. :D Needless to say, I come from a line of degenerate Indian women on both sides. :P

    Like

    • The first part is about my maternal grandmom, the second sindoor-chucking part about my paternal one. I realize I wrote in a confusing way.

      Like

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  19. Sometimes, when I hear the modesty argument for hijab or gunghat, even if worn by choice, it makes me think about what we consider modest. It is in a sense saying that our body, just by being itself is immodest and we can attain modesty only by covering it up. Why are clothes linked to modesty, especially for women? Why can men not cover their heads and still not be perceived as immodest?

    I think it all again boils down to the male gaze. It does not matter what you think about yourself or your body, but the only thing that does matter is how the male gaze perceives you. Because if it was truly about modesty, why is it ok to not cover your head in the presence of just women? Are they not deserving of your display of modesty? Is their opinion worthless for you?

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    • Absolutely. Go to any beach in India and you’ll see men strip off shirts and trousers before running into the water. This undressing is done regardless of the audience, which includes other men, women or children.

      The male body is not a sexual object, so nobody’s sensibilities are offended. Even if some women find the sight of half-naked, potbellied men unsightly, their opinions don’t cause said men to modify their behavior.

      All hell would break loose if women were the ones doing the undressing. Can you imagine what would happen if a bunch of middle-aged women did what men and boys regularly do?
      I mentioned middle-aged because its assumed that ALL female bodies are sexual objects, even if said body is middle-aged, and bears the scars of childbirth, aging and life in general. So these rules about modesty make no sense

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      • Totally agree biwo. I have seen men strip down to their underpants and then happily walk around in wet underpants (not swimming ones, just regular ones that show a lot more!).. even reach into them and scratch themselves.. in full view of all women and children (and other men) at beaches. Why is that not immodest? I find it gross to be honest, but that doesn’t matter apparently. Why?

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        • Ah, men’s love of scratching their nether regions is quite baffling. Its disgusting when they do it while holding conversations with you. :)

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  20. Another piece of crap which needs to be re-though about and shown a place in the large Indian junk. But, I know thee are women who feel it is something to be-hold and unless they don’t see it as a problem, we the urban crowd can’t do anything much about it.
    Even God helps those who help themselves. Most of these ghunghat clad women see it as perfectly alright and an extension to their culture. Bullshit – I say, out loud!

    Like

  21. Last month, I was travelling in train from Mumbai to Pune. In front of me, a young lady presumably in her early 20s, presumably newly married given her red bangles, and the way she dressed, was sitting next to the window. Throughout the journey her face was covered with ghunghat. At Lonavla station, the husband got down and came back with snacks. He put the plate next to her and walked to the side berth. She took the plate, turned towards the window and ate. He asked for water and she kept the bottle on the berth and turned towards the window again. She did not talk to anyone and was just staring out of the window. Ghunghat, if at all worn, should be done so by choice and not forcibly and I feel it is definitely not a tradition worth emulating.

    Of late, I have been seeing one post doing rounds on Facebook. There are two pics: One that of Indian girls wearing jeans and the other in which two foreigners are wearing sarees. The caption said foreign girls are embracing our tradition but our own girls are forgetting our tradition. And this post is shared and re-posted by many girls on their FB page. I commented asking why our girls need to be taunted for the dress they wear. Why aren’t men asked to wear dhoti and threy by uphold our so-called tradition. And why do they think that the two foreign girls in the picture would be wearing sarees at all times. I also wrote our girls are better of being strong and independent rather than appease medieval minds that accuse girls for what they wear. Obviously, my comments were not liked by many :)

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      • Thanks, Carvaka. The fact that the post was blindly shared by girls angered me. And to say the Indian girls in the pic looked very comfortable in t-shirt and jeans. Why should that bother others?

        And recently in TOI I replied to a comment which was posted by a great intellectual stating that Nirbhaya was to be blamed for the gangrape because she had followed western culture. It seems girls following Indian culture are very decent and do not roam with boyfriends in the night. And a jerk agrees with him. I replied to both and you know within a minute one fellow disliked my comment! My question to both was “what makes you think that girls following western culture are entitled to rape? And have you heard of dowry deaths, infanticide, rape inside homes…all these happen in houses that follow the so-called Indian culture.”

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        • That’s awesome! Atleast now that people who read the non-sensical post will also read your rebuttal and maybe it will make someone think!

          Some of these misogynistic fb posts are so sugar coated.. like a friend recently shared one that said ‘Why do women have to go to a stranger’s house after marriage? Because they are god’s angels who make two houses happy.. blah blah’. Really? Are we so gullible as to accept any sort of treatment as long as it’s termed as ‘god’s work’?! I often reply to these but I let this one slip because it felt so futile. I will take inspiration form your replies now. :D

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    • I saw that photo too and wondered what is so great that people want to share it. It is as simple as that when foreigners come to India, they are so taken in by the sarees, salwars,bangles and bindis, that they want to wear them. Its great that they want to try on these things. We Indians too try out the local clothes when we go to places like Kashmir or a Kimono in Japan etc, right. Why don’t these people who share these photos understand this?

      Some people want to make a mountain out of out of anything and everything and twist the whole meaning. I was appalled at seeing the comments of so many men on that photo. Why don’t the same people have an answer to why they don’t wear dhotis and lungis instead of shorts, pants and jeans. If you ask them these questions, then they will want to slap, rape and throw acid on us.

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      • @ Carvaka: Thank you. I couldnt resist replying to those posts and that nonsense pic. And yes, I have seen that “Why do women have to go…..” pic as well. Another make-women-submissive-through-sugarcoated-words kind of pic.

        @Thoughtsrantsrambles: Absolutely!Foreigners are attracted to bindis, sareers, henna etc and they try wearing all these once. And some jerks click a pic and create a nonsensical story out of it.

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  22. Ghunghat is more seen in Northern states of India because Islam came in to those places, and there was a major influence, probably even rules for people of all religions during almost 1000yrs of their ruling. There are a few places in the South, in Hyderabad and Karnataka where Muslims ruled and you can see Hindu women still covering their heads with Pallu though not their faces. India had been most liberal in dress aspects, thousands of years of invasions from conservative cultures ( Both Islam and Christianity were) has changed a lot in the region.

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    • If ghunghat is so much a part of history,our religion, ‘culture’,blah-blah-blah, then how come we never see godesses in ghunghats just like we see them depicted in a saree or Gods in dhoti? If anyone has seen a picture of Godess Laxmi or Durga maa in a ghunghat,pls let me know.

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      • Haha! Good point.

        I am always surprised when the right wingers have issues with people painting gods/goddesses semi-nude. Most ancient hindu temples depict gods/ goddesses semi nude as well (no blouse, saree mostly only covering the bottom bits etc)!

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  23. Ahh… The Mighty Ghoonghat. I have great memories from my childhood when I lived in a village:
    1. During wedding functions, the difficulty that i had finding my mom, lifting every ‘ghunghat’ and looking… phew!
    2. A friend’s ‘Bhabhi’ (SIL) was grinding spices, with a full length ghunghat, but her back was almost bare, covered partly with a flimsy blouse. When someone pointed it out, she said “Its the face that makes the difference. Bodies are all the same.” :D
    3. I remember an old woman who was my granny’s friend telling my mom ‘Bahu, what a shame that we have to wear a ghunghat while we are good looking and worth watching, and go on bare face when we have shriveled faces.’

    That was in UP. In 80s.

    Recently, my husband and I visited his old friend’s house in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. It was the month of June, and it was so hot I could barely breathe, even in a loose cotton kurta. The women in his house, including his wife who I had earlier seen in jeans and t-shirt were all dressed in Rajputi dresses, which comprises of multiple layers in the blouse and skirt, all made of brocade and silk, with heavy ‘odhnis’.

    We thought they are dressed so because they belong to the royalty. But such clothes are norm for even commonfolk. Only, common wear rajputi dresses are made of lighter fabrics. An employee in the factory where I worked, submitted his family photo with his parents dressed in traditional oufits, himself in pant-shirt and his wife standing at the back sporting a ghoonghat. When I told him this photo could not be accepted for identification purposes, he simply said it was a matter of honour and they could not bear the photographer to see the face of his wife.

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  24. This is such a fascinating discussion, and I really appreciate the detail that has gone into this post to explain why women cover their heads. As a foreigner, I had always presumed this was a practical issue to do with the heat in Northern India, but it felt very submissive to see a woman covering her head, almost to show respect, to any random passing male eye. I find it really interesting that women are so visual with their statements of marriage in India, which can sometimes feel like being decorated as a toy. My Indian husband sometimes insists I wear my mangalsutra, but I often also wear sindoor, bangles and a bindi to make it clear that I am taken. This makes my life easier, but it feels incredibly frustrating that I have to show I belong to another man in order to move interest away from me as an available prey to pounce on.

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  25. I feel very irritated when liberated women (some even in western countries) piously wear ghunghat or burkha and then claim that these customs are a “personal choice” and have no derogatory significance. In fact, these women are just playing out their own little fantasies using the ghunghat and burkha and feeling pious and modest in their own liberated world.

    But in doing so, they are belittling the oppression of so many women who have no personal freedom or choice, many of whom have to tolerate abuse, whose spirits have been crushed and whose lives are often ruled by fear.

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    • I agree.
      //But in doing so, they are belittling the oppression of so many women who have no personal freedom or choice, many of whom have to tolerate abuse, whose spirits have been crushed and whose lives are often ruled by fear.//

      Like

  26. Pingback: Man marries son’s wife and a movie called Triyacharitra (1994) | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  27. Pingback: “It was very cruel whatever they did with my didi. Even the ladies were abusing her.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  28. I also feel the same way about how our culture propagates touching elders’ feet. If it is meant to show respect, why can’t that be done by our words/actions? If it is about getting the blessings, why won’t those blessings be given otherwise?

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  29. I think there should be a strict law against ghoonghat pratha like sati pratha & child marriage. This Ghunghat pratha does not allow even an educated women to live with liberty. Irrespective of any kind of weather she supposed to cover her face or her head while men dont, why this difference is there. If this is the symbol of respect only why men are not showing respect for their elders.
    I want that there should be strict law from govt against Ghunghat pratha & against dowry system.

    Like

  30. Pingback: ‘When husbands are jealous, they look so cute, no!?’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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