Dupatta, Chunari, Chunariya, or Audhani, is a shawl-like scarf, women's traditionally essential clothing from the Indian subcontinent. The dupatta is currently used most commonly as part of the women's shalwar kameez costume, and worn over the kurta and the gharara.
The word dupatta, originally from Sanskrit (the liturgial language of Hinduism) is a combination of du- (meaning double or twined) and patta (meaning strip of cloth), i. e., scarf usually doubled over the head.
Early evidence of the dupatta can be traced to the Indus valley civilization, where the sculpture of the Priest-King whose left shoulder is covered with some kind of a chaddar, suggests that the use of the dupatta dates back to this early Indic culture. Early Sanskrit literature has a wide vocabulary of terms for the veils and scarfs used by women during the ancient period, such as Avagunthana meaning cloak-veil, Uttariya meaning shoulder-veil, Mukha-pata meaning face-veil, Siro-vastra meaning head-veil. The dupatta is believed to have evolved from the ancient Uttariya.
Dupatta is worn in many regional styles across the Indian subcontinent. Originally, it was worn as a symbol of modesty. While that symbolism still continues, many today wear it as just a decorative accessory. There is no single way of wearing the dupatta, and as time evolves and fashion modernizes, the style of the dupatta has also evolved.
A dupatta is traditionally worn across both shoulders and around the head. However, the dupatta can be worn like a cape around the entire torso. The material for the dupatta varies according to the suit.  There are various modes of wearing dupatta. When not draped over the head in the traditional style, it is usually worn with the middle portion of the dupatta resting on the chest like a garland, with the ends thrown over each shoulder. When the dupatta is worn with the shalwar-kameez it is casually allowed to flow down the front and back. In current fashions, the dupatta is frequently draped over one shoulder, and even over just the arms. Another recent trend is the short dupatta, which is more a scarf or a stole, often worn with a kurti and Indo-Western clothing. Essentially, the dupatta is often treated as an accessory in current urban fashion.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dupatta.|
- "Indian Dupatta From Behind the Veil," an article about the dupatta