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Lace headscarves were previously favoured by Tamil Muslim women, and would be loosely draped around her head and neck. Today, this has been largely eschewed in favour of plain headscarves worn pinned closely around the face and covering the neck.
In “the muddled conceptualisation of ‘race’ and ‘religion’ in Singapore,” the particular combination of sari and headscarf adopted by Tamil Muslim women, presents “an uncanny reminder… that not all Singaporean Muslims are Malay’.” (Tschacher, pp.76-78)

(Image courtesy of Hafizah Beevi)

சரிகை தலை தாவணிகள் முன்பு தமிழ் முஸ்லீம் பெண்களால் விரும்பப்பட்டன. இந்த தாவணி, அவளுடைய தலை மற்றும் கழுத்தில் தளர்வாக மூடப்பட்டிருக்கும். இன்று, இது பெரும்பாலும் முகத்தை சுற்றி பின் கழுத்தை மூடி அணிந்திருக்கும் வெற்று தலை தாவணிகளுக்கு ஆதரவாக தவிர்க்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.

"சிங்கப்பூரில் ‘இனம்’ மற்றும் ‘மதம்’ பற்றிய குழப்பமான கருத்தாக்கத்தில்”, தமிழ் முஸ்லீம் பெண்கள் ஏற்றுக்கொண்ட புடவை மற்றும் தலை தாவணியின் குறிப்பிட்ட கலவையானது, "அனைத்து சிங்கப்பூர் முஸ்லிம்களும் மலாய் இனத்தவர் அல்ல என்றொரு வினோதமான நினைவூட்டலை முன்வைக்கிறது..." (Tschacher, pp.76-78)

Torsten Tschacher (2018) Race, Religion, and the 'Indian Muslim' Predicament in Singapore. (New York: Routledge)


My religious identity cannot be separated from my Tamil-ness. (Sofia)

Our hair is very important to a Tamil woman, the length, the nature–if it is curly or straight. But so is the kind of tudung we choose to wear. (Sofia)

I see my scarf/tudung as something linked to my faith. It doesn't matter to me if I'm seen as Tamil or Malay. In fact, if I'm near Tamil speaking Muslim people, I'm more than happy to be mistaken for a Malay lady. I don't want to be recognised sometimes because I prefer not to be drawn into typical conversations like, ‘are you married yet?’ or ‘do you have children?’ etc. I see that kind of focus on any woman as inconsequential. (Nasihah)

The ‘thaavani’ (scarf) is something my grandmother wore since puberty. It was only after a large number of people in our community started attending more religious classes and learnt of the need to cover our ‘aurat’ (intimate parts of the body, according to Islam) that Indian Muslim women started to adopt the hijab style that is worn more common today. My grandmother too only adopted this style after the weddings of her daughters. She still keeps some of these scarves as a reminder of her youth. (anonymous)

Does this object also animate your life and identity? Does it affirm, confuse, or implicitly underline your identity and sense of self? Briefly tell us how this object speaks to you personally.

‘Singaporean Tamil Women’ are especially encouraged to leave comments. All others are also welcome to comment.

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