| On Ban on Veils|
I maintain a FAQ on Women of
India, and a number of people have asked me if and when India is going to
ban veils and other covering-of-the-head as they have done recently in
The freedom to practice one's religion is one
of the fundamental rights in India, and any such ban will be no doubt perceived as unconstitutional and immoral by the population, and as far as I know, no such initiative has been considered in India.
Of course, my mind quickly wanders into the discussion on
whether such mandates are appropriate. We do know that forcing one segment of
the people to wear something is wrong, as the Nazis and the Taliban did, but is
forcing a segment not to wear something, wrong?
I tend to think so.
Laws of any land should be designed to protect against
injustice, and I see no reason how forcing a Sikh not to wear a turban, or a
brahmin not to wear the yajnopavita (sacred thread) serves
justice. I am now convinced that the French deserve all the hate and ridicule
targeted at them.
Another of the frequent questions asked to me is how come the
Indian women still wear sarees while the men seem to have adopted to Western
clothing, and if that was a sign of suppression of women in India.
The answer to the question is rather complicated, and
The traditional Indian clothing for men is very much
prevalent in rural India, as well as in urban homes. The stitched shirt has
been used in India for many centuries and can be hardly considered a western
influence. One must not assume that traditional Indian attire for men is
obsolete or unfashionable.
It is true that the veil (purdah) system was
once common in India and was used as a suppression of women's desire to go
out or participate in the society. However, social reformers in 19th and
20th centuries have changed many of the social evils in the Indian society
while leaving the traditional customs as they were. So while we see that
India Gandhi when she was the Prime-Minister of India covered her hair, it
would be incorrect to classify her practice as obeying the fundamentalists!
Indian women do wear non-Indian clothes! The Salwar-Kameez,
that is very popular in India came from Middle-East.
Some outfits like skirts or shorts are considered too
revealing for women in India, yet the saree that shows the bare midriff and
navel is is considered respectable. It is a cultural thing.
But what do I know? I am a man.
Rajasthani Woman in Veil Carrying Child
Saree Sapne -- Celebrating the Indian Saree
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Wednesday, February 25, 2004|
Last Modified: 2/25/2004