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The Good-Old Time When My Dupatta Was Nobody's Business

Chunni has been essential clothing in our Indian society, but not in her world. Read on this fascinating account
  • Guest Author
  • Her Voice
Published -30 Sep 2021, 19:12 ISTUpdated -06 Oct 2021, 12:59 IST
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As deep as the values have been embedded in our Indian society for ages, fashion has also been restricted to the needs and values we’ve been taught by our elders and parents. Many a time we have been told not to wear a certain type of clothing as to suffice our social norms and values, that may not be justified to us as an individual and have taken a step back. 

I, Sudershan Girotra, who has lived for 75 years, also faced a fashion facade over the years. As a young woman, I was in a family that never believed in following all these societal norms. 

60 years ago, the ‘chunni’ was considered an important part of the outfit for ladies. But for me and my family, it was different. They never forced me to wear one. The kurta and patiala that I wore were always enough. My brothers, never for once, forced me to wear one inside or outside the house. I felt like I owned the world without the burden of a chunni. Though I saw other women in the village always carrying their chunni but never for a day I got into the societal pressure of wearing one myself until the time I got married. 

Post marriage I used chunni as more of an accessory to my outfits. If it looked good with the kurta, I was going to wear it. All I ever cared about was to look good. 

Chunni is something that women, in this age and time, use to cover their heads in front of the family elders to show respect. It’s also considered essential for a woman’s dignity to cover her upper chest area in order to avoid unsolicited attention and uphold one's family's honour and dignity. 

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What truly amazes me even today is how my family took this one decision at a time it wasn't supposed to be that way and how over the years this is a point of conversation and consideration while talking about women rights and liberty. The idea of my life, my choice was embedded way early into me. 

I am of the opinion that women need to prioritise themselves and their comfort over and above everything else. It's you who should matter the most!

As a mother and a grandmother, I have not put restrictions or mentioned a dress code to any member of my family since once should be allowed to live they wish to. I am proud of the fact that all my children have a different sense of style and that defines for them who truly they are. 

Having the time of my life, I have had the good fortune of travelling the world with my husband and realised how clothing should always be about you and not how others look at it. I have been fascinated by clothes all my life and I believe fashion has a way of defining and speaking your personality.

Be who you are, unabashedly!


Writer: Sudershan Girotra

(The author is a homemaker, a mother to 5 and a grandmother to 10. Living in a big joint family has made her realize the need and importance of having a family around)

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