In this sixty-fifth archive story by Kristian Bertel, we are learning about the Ghoonghat, which many Indian women are wearing in India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
A Ghoonghat can be named many ways Ghunghat, Ghunghta, Ghumta, Odhni, Laaj, Chunari and Jhund are all names of a veil or headscarf worn by some married Hindu, Jain and Sikh women to cover their head, and often their face. Generally Aanchal or Pallu, the loose end of a sari is pulled over the head and face to act as a Ghunghat as seen in the portrait of an Indian woman in Udaipur.
A Ghoonghat can be named many ways Ghunghat, Ghunghta, Ghumta, Odhni, Laaj, Chunari and Jhund are all names of a veil or headscarf worn by some married Hindu, Jain and Sikh women to cover their head, and often their face. Generally Aanchal or Pallu, the loose end of a sari is pulled over the head and face to act as a Ghunghat as seen in the portrait of an Indian woman in Udaipur.

Ghoonghat portraiture

A Dupatta which is a long scarf is also commonly used as a Ghungat. Today, facial veiling by Hindu women as part of everyday attire is now mostly limited to the Hindi-speaking areas of India. Facial veiling is not sanctioned in Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism but some sections of the society who advocated the use of the veil for married women, which came to be known as Ghoonghat. It has been both romanticized and criticized in religious and folk literature.

An Indian headscarf
The word Ghoongat, Ghunghat or Ghunghta is derived from Avagunthana meaning veil, hiding and cloak and Oguntheti that means to cover, veil over and hide. In Ghoonghat practice, facial veiling observed by married women is known as Laaj, which means modesty, honor and shame. In veiling practice, it literally means 'To keep one's modesty, shame and honor'. Earliest attested word Laaj in context of veiling is found in Valmiki's Ramayana describing Mandodari. However, it is unclear whether it refers to facial veiling as seen in this India portrait. During a marriage ceremony, the bride wears a veil given by her parents. Later, during the ceremony the bride's mother-in-law covers her face with Ghoonghat. She therefore simultaneously wears the veil given by her parents and that from her in-laws, symbolizing her passing from the protection of one's household to another. During a marriage ceremony, the bride wears a veil given by her parents.

Later, during the ceremony the bride's mother-in-law covers her face with Ghoonghat. She therefore simultaneously wears the veil given by her parents and that from her in-laws, symbolizing her passing from the protection of one's household to another. Muh Dikhai which means the first gaze is a post-wedding ceremony, where the bride is formally introduced to the groom's relatives and extended family. The ceremony takes place once the bride arrives in her new home, each family member lifts her veil, looks at the bride and gives her a welcoming gift. She receives Shagun from her mother-in-law, which is typically jewelry, clothing and silverware. After this ceremony the bride observes full veiling for the next few months or until her parents-in-law advise her to unveil. During the early 1900s, women of royal and aristocratic class were first to abandon strict veiling in public. However, the head was loosely veiled due to sensitivity towards the custom during changing times. The other classes soon followed and it lingered on in some parts of India until well after the 1940s. Facial veiling has gradually declined, and is mostly limited to parts of Hindi-speaking areas today. In Ghungat, a woman will veil her face from all men to whom she's related by marriage and who are senior to her husband. This would include, for instance, her husband's father, elder brother and uncles. The effect of Ghungat is to limit a young woman's interaction with older men. It has been found that fiftyfive percent of women in India practice some form of Ghoonghat, majority of them in Hindi-speaking states. The survey found that some women may cover their face fully but for others, partial covering of the face is more a nod to propriety than a large impediment.

Udaipur a romantic city in India
Udaipur in which city the above portrait was taken is also known as the City of Lakes and is the crown jewel of the state of Rajasthan. It is surrounded by the beautiful Aravalli Hills in all directions, making this city as lovely as it is. This 'Venice of the East' has an abundance of natural beauty, mesmerising temples and breathtaking architecture which makes it a must-visit destination in India. A boat ride through the serene waters of Lake Pichola will be enough to prove to you why Udaipur is the pride of Rajasthan. Located in a valley and surrounded by four lakes, Udaipur has natural offerings with a grandeur multiplied by human effort, to make it one of the most enchanting and memorable tourist destinations. It justifies all names ever offered to its charm from 'Jewel of Mewar' to 'Venice of the East'. And though the entire city's architecture is flattering, the Lake Palace hotel is something that offers the city a visual definition. The revered Nathdwara temple is about 60 km from Udaipur.

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of an Indian woman in Udaipur. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.