By Lt. Gauri Shankar Antarvedi, Rtd
If we go back to the history of India, for thousands of years girls and women went to schools and institutions wearing ghoonghat, flowers in their hair, putting on bindi or sindhoor or thilak on their forehead.
In order to confirm this, one can check Ravi Varma’s paintings and epics. They wore the ghoonghat for a variety of reasons including men’s pardah, protection from the sun, fashion and identity.
Recently, some leaders have compared the hijab to the triple talaq. However, they are different because in the case of the triple talaq, many women favored its removal whereas the hijab is voluntarily worn by thousands of girls and women.
Even when the issue is viewed through a constitutional prism, wearing the hijab falls under Articles 14 and 25 of the Indian constitution.
Analysis of different faiths in India reveals that even Sikhs attend educational institutions with turbans, young Swami Ayyappa Deeksha boys and men attend classes wearing black colored robes for 3 months. Many Hindu men and women go to educational institutions after putting on pooja thilak or bottu or kumkum. Some women even wear flowers in their ears.
The Indian Army allows officers to keep beards or long mustaches or shave their heads etc. as an acceptable aberration. This cannot be considered breaking uniformity. This means that all major rules and laws have exceptions.
I hope that political and social leaders will understand this. I hope schools and colleges will start focusing on educating girls and women instead of depriving them of education using frivolous or inexplicable rules or restrictions.
Lieutenant Gauri Shankar Antarvedi, Rtd, BE. MBA, LLB.