Recently, during a divorce case hearing, Guwahati High Court said that a married Hindu woman’s refusal to wear Sakha (bangles made of conch-shell) and sindoor (vermillion), shows her unwillingness to accept her marriage to the husband.
This judgment left many progressive minds angry and heartbroken. One such progressive mind took to IFORHER platform to express her views. Through her open letter, she questioned if only Sindoor, Bangles, Mangalsutra & Bindis are the signs that show women’s willingness to accept the marriage? And if yes, then why our men are exempted from this rudimentary thought process?
Here’s her thought-provoking open letter.
I’ve been married for 10 years now and I have a beautiful family with 2 lovable kids and a caring husband.
But yesterday, I came to know that neither my love for my kids nor my feelings for my husband were enough to show you how much I am vested in this marriage. Yes, because I don’t wear Sindoor, Bangles, Mangalsutra, Bindis, or any other form of quintessential signs of being married. Because I don’t believe I am a cattle or my marriage is any kind of product that needs a label or a trademark.
Ten years and two children later I am still questioned by well-meaning aunties, in-laws, friends, house helpers about my refusal to wear these important pieces signifying my marital status.
It is heartbreaking how our society is so judgmental when it comes to labeling a married woman? It is extremely sad how quickly it judges her character, her marriage, her love – all through these materialistic commodities. In a cinch of a second, she is either labeled as ‘sanskaari‘ or ‘besharam‘ based on if she follows the unwritten rules of the patriarchal society.
I always wonder – Why do married people (mostly women) need to wear signs indicating their marital status? How “ek chutki sindoor,” is more important than the married woman herself? Why our society pressurizes these symbols on women – is it just a patriarchal way to label her as ‘unavailable’?
There are many people who have given me different reasons why married women are asked to wear a mangalsutra, sindoor (vermillion), rings, bangles, and other talismans throughout their life! Some told me – it is believed that it enhances the well-being of her husband and the family. Some believed that it protected the marriage from evils. And, some told me that it signifies that the wife is now under the protection of her husband.
If I have to wear it for my husband’s well-being, then shouldn’t he wear it for my well-being? And, if these symbols actually protect marriage from evils, then any wife who wore mangalsutra would never undergo a divorce or separation.
I am not opposed to women wearing these signs out of their own will. But, I have an issue when you start judging me or my love for my husband just because I don’t wear these symbols.
I wear my wedding ring all the time not because I am expected to, but because I like it. In the same way, I don’t wear a bindi or apply sindoor simply because I don’t like the idea. It is sad how these symbols are treated as a stamp on ones’ commitment to marriage? Just because one does not happily adorn these accessories doesn’t mean they don’t consider their marriage important.
It is heartbreaking how some gossip mongers, without even knowing anything about you or your marriage, jump to shitty conclusions about you and your marriage. There are gossip mongers who go like:
“She doesn’t wanna look married.”
“She doesn’t love her husband enough.”
“She too modern.”
“She is a rebel.”
It leaves me heartbroken how these symbols are actually used to judge someone’s character or willingness to make the marriage work. You would be at a loss of words when not only society but also your judicial system starts judging women for not adorning these symbols.
Why even in the 21st century, adorning these symbols are not a personal choice of a woman? Why our society still tends to force it on her?
Just a full disclosure – I have nothing against women who wear mangalsutra/sindoor/bindi, and it’s their personal choice. But I have a request, I don’t judge you if you wear those symbols. So don’t judge me when I don’t. Don’t tell me it is my “suhaag ki nishaani” (a sign of marriage). For me, the only symbol of my marriage is the love and care that my husband and I hold for each other. I don’t need to indulge in materialistic things to prove my commitment.
Dear Society, Let married women live life as they want to – with symbols/without symbols. Stop judging her character. Let her choose what is best for her and her marriage. Because in the end, marriage is much more than just these symbols.
A humble request to our readers:
IFORHER’s Open letters series capture articles contributed by our community members’ with the objective to share their deepest feelings with the community. If you can relate to them, please don’t forget to drop a message for the writer.
And if you don’t please don’t judge them. We all go through different struggles in life. Just because we don’t have that struggle doesn’t mean their struggle isn’t real.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of I for Her. Authors are responsible for any omissions or errors. And, IforHer does not assume any liability or responsibility for them.