The purpose of dupatta, do we even need one?


Happy young woman flying leafs in air towards sky.

The only use of a dupatta is to completely cover the bosom of a woman. But why are we living in a world in which that is needed?

Every day we are wearing a piece of garment that serves no real purpose. We as Indians have got so much used to this piece of garment that we don’t think much about it. It is a part of our culture and our clothing. It is something that millions of women wear every day. It is none other than the dupatta.

Early evidence of the dupatta can be traced to the Indus valley civilization, where the sculpture of a priest-king whose left shoulder is covered with some kind of a cloth suggests that the use of the dupatta dates back to this early Indic culture.

Although men use forms of dupattas as well, the purpose of a dupatta for centuries had been to cover the bosom of a woman. To protect her modesty, so other males do not see the shape of her breast.  But when we are already wearing a top to cover ourselves, what is the purpose of an extra garment to even cover up the shape of the breasts?

Funny fact, an everyday cotton dupatta is used as a towel by many women to wipe water from their hands or wipe sweat from their bodies on a hot day. Those ways dupatta serve the purpose, but that can be done using a handkerchief or a towel as well.

Yet we continue to use the dupatta, drape it in many ways that may or may not cover the bosom. And dupatta has become a style statement these days and there are designer dupattas and dupattas can be purchased separately. They are just elaborate pieces of art that we hang on our clothes to display their beauty to the world. And managing a dupatta is not such a difficult job either. It can look elegant and graceful with traditional wear.  

However, the initial purpose of it does not change. Its initial purpose is to cover a women’s body from other men’s eyes. Although, the need of covering your bosom is disappearing from our culture slowly. Nowadays girls have stopped wearing dupattas even with traditional wears. But mostly older women in their daily life keep wearing dupatta as they are used to the piece of cloth.

We are not saying that you should stop using dupatta. It is one’s choice whether to use it or not. And We cannot call a dupatta a complete sign of oppression as it is such a versatile piece of garment and the usage of it has gone from being a protective cover to a style statement. And dupatta is not at all going to go out of fashion any time soon. But we should really think about the actual use of a dupatta…and ponder if we need that covering over our bodies or not. 

-Staff Reporter

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