The dupatta was traditionally used as a modified veil. Covering the head and shoulders in meditation creates a sense of privacy.
‘Dupatta’ is the most commonly used word for the long scarf. The word ‘chunni’ is well-known also in the Punjab. It is a symbol of modesty but in modern times it has also evolved into a fashion item. ‘Du’ means ‘two’, and ‘patta’ means ‘strip of cloth’ – originally from Sanskrit. The tradition dates back to the dawn of Indic culture, as well as that of Buddhism. Women cover their heads with a dupatta when entering temples and churches.
The tradition of wearing a dupatta as a sign of modesty and respect continues in the Kundalini community. Yogi Bhajan encouraged women to wear one. Traditions commonly weaken as communities evolve. Let’s hope that this one will stay alive and well.
Wearing a dupatta, especially in the West, may seem unusual to the uninitiated. However, it never fails to impress by its sheer beauty. It also never fails to deliver a sense of peace and serenity to the wearer. Meditation is a private affair, yet it is at its most powerful when performed with others. Group energy uplifts and heals like no other. A dupatta provides a private space.