Ghoonghat vs Hijab

Culture & Customs of


Ghoonghat vs Hijab

While there are various blogs and videos debating the concept of women covering their heads and whether or not this practice belongs in the 21st century, this isn’t one of those blogs.

This blog will not encompass our opinions but will state facts, numbers, and instances from history about the culture of head veils.

The tradition of covering one’s body is called the Purdah System. The main argument behind why women are asked to conceal their skin is so that women are judged not by their physical appearance but by their inner beauty. 

This system of Purdah is most prevalent amongst the Hindu and Muslim communities.

Depending on its religious significance, time, socioeconomic status, and even the local culture, purdah takes up various forms. 

Time for some interesting facts (Ghoonghat vs Hijab)

Ghoonghat vs Hijab 1

Ghoonghat and hijab are two such forms of Purdah

Although Purdah is very closely associated with the Islamic religion, veiling did not originate from Islam. Scholars argue that the system dates even before Islam for statuettes portraying veiled women have been uncovered that date back as far as 2500 BC. Before Islam, these customs of veiling were commonly found in various groups in the Middle East like Druze, Christian, and Jewish communities. The earliest practice of Purdah is noted to be from the Persian Culture (which is where it is believed to have been originated from.) The Muslims adopted this custom during the Arab conquest of what is now Iraq in the 7th century AD. While both ghoonghat and hijab are just different forms of purdah, the significance they serve is widely different. Though, of course, they do share a few similarities where some ideologies behind them might overlap, these terminologies stand their own ground.


A ghoonghat is a headscarf or veil that is worn by married women. This tradition of covering their faces and hair is generally followed by women in the Hindu, Jain, and Sikh communities. 

The practice of ghoonghat can be dated back as far as the 1st century BC by some sections of the society.  


Why do women wear Ghoonghat?

When a married woman wears ghoonghat, this practice is called Laaj. This literally translates to keeping one’s modesty, shame, and honor. 


Hijab is a head veil worn by Muslim women who follow Islamic traditions. Women wear a hijab when they’re in the presence of any male outside their immediate family with the motive of maintaining privacy and modesty from unrelated males. 

Fun Fact

Did you know that about half a dozen verses in the Quran specifically refer to how a woman should dress and walk in public?


The Arabic word ‘Hijab’ means barrier or partition. Though, the practice of the hijab has a much broader meaning than its literal translation.

Hijab has a long history. Aslan suggests that women started to wear the hijab to imitate Muhammad’s wives. Mohammad’s wives are held in high esteem as “Mothers of the Believers” in Islam.

The practice of hijab was started sometime around 627 CE in the Muslim Community.

Hijab vs Burqa vs Niqab

There are various forms of how Muslim women cove their bodies. While a hijab is typically a head-veil that only covers the head and face, that is not the same as a burqa or a niqab.

Burqa (or Burka) is a garment that not just covers the face but the entire body, Burqa is repeatedly associated with the Afghani Chadri. 

In Afghani Chadri, the veil that covers the face is generally a netted garment that conceals the eyes but lets the wearer see out.

People often confuse a niqab with a burqa. A niqab is a garment that covers only the upper body and the face except for the eyes. A niqab allows people to see the wearer’s eyes. 

A survey was conducted in 2014 in seven Muslim-majority countries to analyze the preferences of Muslim women. The pie chart below shows the inclination of the respondents.



Muslim women believe that the hijab is a symbol of faith. It is their way to acknowledge their cultural roots and is a sign of commitment to their community.

A Muslim woman may wear a hijab or burqa to express her devotion and her notions of sexual modesty to the world. 

Wearing a hijab is neither a universal cultural custom nor is it culturally compulsory in all countries.

According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center, out of approximately 1 Million Muslim women living in the US, 43% customarily wear headscarves, while about a half don’t cover their heads.

In another survey conducted by Pew Research Center, reportedly 36% of Muslim American women wore a hijab in public, 26% said they wore it most or some of the time, while 40% of them said they never wore a headscarf.

Societal Compulsions and Pressures

After reading so far, you might have understood the underlying ways in which different customs and traditions dictate a woman’s life and freedom. I’m not going to tell you what is right and what isn’t, I’m just going to give you instances from history where head veils have caused complications. 

Iran is a Muslim-majority country. So, what better way to analyze the compulsions posed by society than by observing the timeline of hijabs in Iran?

1936 – Iran banned all types of veils.

1979Following the Islamic Revolution, Iran mandated the Islamic dress code for women.

April 1980All women in educational institutions and government offices were mandated to wear veils.

19831983 penal code stipulated a punishment of 74 lashes for women appearing without a hijab in public.

1984Tehran’s public prosecutor announced stricter dress-code regulations to be followed in public.

1988A new regulation based on the 1983 law specified what constituted violations of hijab.

Iran’s penal code demands a fine or 10 days to 2 months of imprisonment as a punishment if hijab regulations are violated in public without specifying its form.

Feminist movements are active all over the world protesting these customs and traditions of suppression and segregation of women.

Hope you have learned something new today while reading and enjoying our blog ” Goonghat vs Hijab “. 

So, what do you think about these customs and practices? About Ghoonghat vs Hijab

Do you feel the purdah system is outdated and doesn’t belong in the 21st century, or do you feel we shouldn’t let go of these cultural roots? Did you understand the difference between Ghoonghat vs Hijab? Share your views with us!!

Let Know

Leave a Reply