The Culture of Covering Head in India

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Covering head in


The Culture of Covering Head in India

There may be multiple reasons why you use a headscarf. You may use it to protect your head from rain, dirt, wind, cold, or maybe because of sanitation. Maybe you do it because it’s a fashion statement, or maybe your reason is modesty. 

But for many, covering their head implies recognition, social distinction, and more often than not, it has a religious significance. 

While some may have a choice, others are obliged to do so due to religious beliefs. All religions have their code of conduct to be followed, and covering the head is believed by many to symbolize prestige or even purity of the family.

India undoubtedly has various traditions that follow the principles of covering the head, and the most widely known are the Ghoonghat and the Turban.

Ghoonghat is a head covering or headscarf that is traditionally worn by married women following the Hindu Culture. Generally, the ghoonghat does not just cover their hair or head, but also their face. 

Turban, on the other hand, is a long piece of cloth that is worn as headwear. In India, followers of the Sikh culture put it on it as a customary headwear. And unlike the ghoonghat, a turban is worn by both men and women.



When a married woman wears a ghoonghat, the practice is known as Laaj. The term Laaj or Lajja literally means “To keep (one’s) modesty, shame, and honor”.

In temples and Gurudhwaras, it is a strict custom to cover one’s head, especially for married women. This is to express their respect, gratitude, and humility for the supreme being and demonstrates their submission to God.

In India, the ghoonghat practice also marks respect towards elders. 

While on one hand, there are various ancient believes tied to the head veil, on the other hand, many believe that the ghoonghat don’t belong in the 21st century. 

More than a custom, the practice of ghoonghat works against empowering women for it isn’t just about covering the head, it is about what it has been symbolized as since the bygone days.

Want to know about ghoonghat vs hijab???


The culture of covering head in India

Around 25 million people around the world follow Sikhism as their religion. It is the fifth-largest religion in the world in terms of population. Though India is where most Sikhs are, there are about 700,000 Sikhs in the United States.

And that’s a lot of turbans!

While the turban may represent something along the lines of fashion for some cultures, for Sikhs, it represents their faith. During the 15th through 18th centuries in Southern Asia, the turban was worn only by the elite. 

For them, the turban represents royalty, grace, and uniqueness. 

It still does, and though once upon a time the turban was limited to the higher classes, now all those who follow the Sikh religion cover their heads with a turban which signifies the equal status among the faith’s followers. 

All this definitely shows India’s complex customs and traditions. 

Though many may not agree with everything, these customs are what make the heritage of this country rich. And with time, India has managed to find the fine balance between modernization while keeping a firm hold of its roots.

It really is a land of wonders, isn’t it?

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