Thursday, December 27, 2007

Headscarf Culture

Headscarfs and scarfs both have their own historical beginnings, culture and historical value.

This trip to India, the entire northern area was the desert area, so the headscarf became a necessity. We also followed the local culture as the hot scorching sun could reach 40 to 50 degrees Celsius, especially in summer. The sandstorms were strong and longhaired women would get sand trapped in their tresses if there was no protection from the headscarfs. My wife wore the headscarf and shampooed everyday but the fine sand still made their way into her hair. In the seethingly cold winter, headscarfs and scarfs become indispensable.

In ancient times, women had low social status and were not allowed to have direct contact with men. They had to cover their faces, so the headscarfs came in handy.

Although women were lowly in Indian society, they were highly regarded at home. Indian friends all hold their mothers in great regard, especially the Sikhs. Their mother still had to be responsible for their daily needs, marriage and worship etc.

Even in the royal grounds, men held their meetings in the halls and women were only allowed to peer from the windows. I asked the tour guide why were the women always hiding behind the men. He didn’t know the answer.

The headscarf culture began its popularity in the desert as a necessity. Later on it became a living habit, and further evolved into a religious taboo.

As technology advanced, some life necessities evolved along with it. There are few Indian ladies who wear saris now. They would rather bathe more often than to wear headscarfs.
During this Northern India trip, it can take around seven to eight hours to travel from one destination to another. I was left with plenty of time on my hands to ponder.

The multi-coloured saris I saw wrapped around the Indian ladies in the desert enabled me to understand a simple truth. I am someone who fears the cold, especially on long haul flights. I must have my hat on my head to keep out the chill. Recently I swapped that for a scarf, and it looks pretty good too.

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