Very interesting question and insightful comments. May I please share a bit of my thinking on the question.
Head covering by Sikh women is more like a cultural thing; a sign of respect that arose out of the patriarchal society from where we have evolved. Women in the past covered their head as a sign of modesty and respect for elders and while in the company of men who commanded respect perhaps because they were often the bread winners while women tended the housework. Now, we are in more like a level playing field, women are equally educated, if not more; they are professionals and they do not only have to show respect to men but they also deserve to be respected equally – equality – the vision of the founder of Sikhism.
Whether a Sikh woman covers her head or not needs to judged from the perspective of Sikh protocols. No matter whether a woman is Amritdhari or not, my understanding is that Sikh Reyat Marayada is silent on this issue. However, covering head in front of Guru Granth Sahib by both men and women is a must and it is the sign of respect to the Guru. No matter how educated or informed we may be, our wisdom remains infinitesimally small in front of the immense wisdom that is embedded in the Sabad.
If a Sikh woman decides to cover her head in public, she can use a dupatta, a scarf, or a turban of any colour ( white, black or blue, or any other); it is her call. The problem comes when many women who are Amritdhari wear turban and claim that it is the requirement of being a baptized Sikh. Sikh Reyat Marayada does not support this, neither is there any record that Guru Gobind Singh Sahib made this as a requirements for Sikh Khalsa women. When young kids, media or curious bystanders ask this question, it is misleading to tell them that it is the requirement of Sikh faith when there is no evidence to support this.
As far as I know, since many of my family relations are from Akhand Kirtani Jatha; I noticed the women members wore turbans. I also recall each time they visited our place we had to put aside and hide all of our ceramic pots and pans because they ate only in metal utensils.
Then there are women with the 3HO foundation that was set up by Harbahajan Singh Yogi, who wear white turbans. I do not know if there is any other offshoot Sikh group that asks its women to wear turbans – perhaps there are some when we have hundreds of Deras in Punjab. The problem is that such specific Sikh Marayadas promoted by individuals contribute to inequality and divisiveness in Sikh faith. Women equality and equality across caste and creed is the hallmark of Sikh faith and these clans work against the fundamental principles of Sikh faith for which our gurus sacrificed their own lives and of their children to fight against inequality, discrimination, and divisiveness.
Gurbani tells us over and over again that haumain ( ego) is most destructive to our personal, social, emotional and spiritual growth. And the formation and promotion of such clans with their own specific Sikh Marayadas and dress protocols is more of a display of ego of those who do not work within the established Sikh protocols. It is because they believe by giving a different outward appearance to their adherents, they can produce a better version of Khalsa – Remember their is is only one Khalsa - Guru Ka Khalsa!!
We all know what Gurbani says about the outward appearance and this leads to another question for a separate thread that I may post. The question is: we all know that 5Ks collectively define the identity of the Khalsa; what is the significance of each Kakar individually?
Women who wear white, blue or black turban ( or of any colour for that matter) can anyone please help, how one should answer if someone asks why you are wearing a turban - should we say that you are baptized and Guru Sahib asked women to wear turban when Sikh Reyat Marayada does not support this or should we say you are a creed of better Khalsa than the Guru's Khalsa for which he sacrificed himself and his family.