the woman in a scarf image by Yuriy Poznukhov from Fotolia.com

A dupatta is a large shawl traditionally worn with shalwar kameez or lenghas in Hindu, Muslim and Sikh religions. Wearing the dupatta on your head is a mark of respect for a religious ceremony, worship or elders. For example, a wedding ceremony would require the bride to wear a dupatta. They range in style from simple to elaborate and are designed to complement the entire outfit. The way the dupatta is worn on your head is specific to the culture you are enveloped in: casual for Hindu and Sikh, taut and covered for Muslim.

Iron the dupatta so it can sit on your head smoothly without any wrinkles in the fabric.

Stand in front of a mirror. Hold the dupatta with both hands in front of you. Roll it loosely so it fits inside each hand. Shift the material until it is equal lengths on both sides.

Hold the dupatta straight and place it behind your head so it rests against the nape of your neck. Once the cloth is around your neck, make sure it is even as it flows down both sides of your neck.

Pull the outside edges outward and pull them up over your head. Cover as much of your head as you need to. For example, if you are attending a Muslim function, you need to cover your entire head so none of your hair shows. If you are attending a Hindu, Sikh or nonreligious event, you can leave it casually draped over the back of your hair with as much showing as you like.

Wrap one or both sides of the dupatta over the opposite shoulder for the final touch to your outfit. If your hair is up, you may place a hairpin or two to secure it in place if you do not want it to move throughout the event. If your hair is down, the dupatta may slip off, so you may want to create small pin curls to hold it in place. Twist two sections of your hair close together at the crown of your head. Pin them with the pins. Pin one more in to hold the dupatta in place.

Tip

Some dupattas are simple and light, made of silk or cotton, while others are heavy, made of satin or another blend. Be mindful of this when you decide how to wear your hair, as it affects how much the piece may slip. The heavier the fabric, the more security you need.

Warning

Ensure that you are aware of the culture and customs before wearing the dupatta to a specific event to avoid offending anyone.

About the Author

Rosalind Mohammed

Rosalind Mohammed began writing in 2002. She contributes to various websites, specializing in writing about art and design-related topics. She holds a Bachelor of Environmental Design from the Ontario College of Art and Design and an honors Bachelor of Arts in English and fine art history from the University of Toronto.