In a first, Haryana Khap asks women to shun ghoonghat
For the first time in Haryana, a Khap body has asked women to shun the decade-old tradition of wearing a ghoonghat (veil) at home as well as outside.
The Malik Gathwala Khap, one of the largest and most influential in Haryana, took the decision at the Sonepat’s Gohana town during an event organised to mark the birth anniversary of its ancestral leader on Monday evening. Bihar governor Satyapal Malik and union minister Birender Singh were present at the event.
Baljeet Malik, 66, chief of Malik Gathwala Khap said, “Time has come to end the age-old traditions that are not relevant today. Expecting women to remain confined under veils is foolishness. It blocks their vision and does not let them breathe properly. Happiness and peace comes to those houses where daughters-in-law are loved like real daughters.”
The Khap said that women can keep scarf on their heads to show their respect towards elders.
Khaps, the quasi-judicial bodies in North India, were recently rapped by the Supreme Court for interfering in love marriages. These caste bodies have been infamous for enforcing anti-women diktats in garb of promoting culture and traditions. However, many Khaps have in the past couple of years taken positive decisions for women to change their dubious reputation.
The Malik Gathwala Khap, which has jurisdiction over 700 villages across Haryana, Punjab, UP and Rajasthan, has asked people to honour ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign by socially boycotting those indulging in female foeticide or infanticide.
It has also directed people to not hold such celebrations during weddings or other functions.
The directions have evoked happiness among women of the Khap. At Malik gotra (clan) Kharawar village in Rohtak, 70-year-old Kartari Devi said, “It feels like we have got freedom today. The veil used to make us very uncomfortable, especially while working in agriculture fields. I am happy that our new generation will not have to bear this.”
Divya Malik, a Class-12 student at a Kharawar school, said she could have never imagined herself wearing a ghunghat. “I am glad this practice has ended for us,” she said.
The Khap said it was hopeful of setting an example, and more Khaps will follow the move.