Chuni: The Honor of a Sikh Woman

July 23, 2010 by Harminder Kaur

When it comes down to the Chuni, it is no longer about equal rights but rather about purpose. Sikh women aren’t given chunis to make them look different from their male counterparts or to take away their right to wear a turban. Chuni is an addition to the turban and the bana for women because of its unique purpose. The purpose is to protect the modesty of a woman that can’t be properly achieved with the regular bana. To understand this properly we have to understand why, how and when Sikh women are supposed to wear the chuni.  

The chuni covers us up in an especially graceful way that no other piece of clothing can, and it engenders respect. As Sikhs we wear well-fitting clothes as they allow easier movement and don’t get caught in anything. Such bana also highlights our bodies. In this day and age of Kaljug it does not take much for someone’s mind to drift in a sexual direction. So even though we feel that we look fine and modest, that doesn’t mean that everyone views us in that way. So, whenever we are in public, it becomes a matter of preserving our grace and natural power as women. For that it is important to wear the chuni properly.

A properly worn chuni drapes over the chest in a most graceful manner. The fold of chuni covers the curves of the body and brings the focus back to the face. Traditionally the chuni is worn so it is covering the head and the chest but the face is always showing. It is actually a very pretty and effective way to wear the chuni as it brings focus to your face rather than your body. As a Sikh woman, I want to be treated equally, to get that treatment I have a beautiful way to keep the focus on my thoughts, my words and my grace and projection rather than on the shape of my body.

We always want the focus on our ideals, so it is ideal never to go without the chuni. To some, the chuni has the image of being cumbersome and getting in the way when working but that depends on how it is worn. You can wear chuni at all times and if you find it cumbersome, just pin it to your shirt, so it doesn’t drape down and you don’t constantly have to fix it. Over time it will become a habit to wear the chuni and you won’t even need to pin it back. The chuni can be worn all day at home and at work. It can be worn with almost any type of clothing that is not skimpy to give the clothing more grace. It not only gives the wearer an image of grace, it can also be a great fashion statement if you color-coordinate it. There is nothing really stopping us from wearing a chuni at all times other than the fact we aren’t used to wearing it and it seems that it might be hard.

The fact that wearing a chuni is not our habit, makes us forget sometimes that the chuni is actually an important part of our bana and so we go without it. When we go without the chuni, we must be extra careful with our clothing. That means we have to make sure the clothing we are wearing is not sexually provoking and that our head is covered with a dastar. If the first thoughts that come to the mind after getting dressed are "do I look pretty and sexy?" then it is time to pick up a chuni or go change our clothes. 

A Sikh woman is the very image of grace and shakti (power) and the chuni is a part of that image. As Sikh women, let us be confident in ourselves. Let us be alert rather than flirt. We do not need to make ourselves into alluring bait designed to catch a prize fish.  We do not need to play the game of being sexy. Let us command the respect that we deserve and let us bring our grace and radiance, not only to our appearance, but to everything we do and say. We are powerful beings. Let us embody that radiance and power with confidence and enjoy wearing our chuni.
    

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