Wearing Sindoor & Mangalsutra May Be Presented As A Choice, But We Need To Look Deeper

Posted: January 11, 2018

Wearing Sindoor is so common in our country that it seems to be more important than a marriage certificate. Is it really an unforced choice? 

Growing up, I observed it and understood it as something that “happens” – there is no ‘if’ and ‘but’ for it. However, after reaching my 20s, I started questioning its worth and why it is important.

I’m 25 years old now and after having a good theoretical and practical experience, long conversations with men and women, I have understood why many women feel the need to wear sindoor and mangalsutra.

1) It is considered a ‘Patni-dharma’ that women MUST fulfill, no ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’. It is traditional/religious/keeps husband alive or whatever reason that can convince a woman to keep it is given.
2) Certainly, it was a patriarchal structure but now women who accept point no 1 make it mandatory for other women to follow this ‘patni-dharma’.
3) Psychological self validation contributes immensely as women seek validation from others whose definition of a married beautiful lady is different from an unmarried one depending on if they wear sindoor, mangalsutra, make-up and other ornaments.
4) Women often lack respect from their partners and hence, seeking respect from society has a major role to play in their lives. Now, society openely judges women on the basis of sindoor and mangalsutra once they’re married, and leaves no space for women to ‘survive’ unjudged.
5) They have no self awareness and are not vociferous about what they want and thus this patriarchal set up of putting symbols on them so that they cannot “seduce other men in the market” is consumed by them unquestionably.
6) These symbols get stamped on us by the use of scientific arguments and evidence giving no voice to women whether they really believe in those scientific arguments and evidence, if any.
7) Once they start questioning these symbols, a load of allegations, accusations, complaints and hatred falls on them and here they have to fight against society, in-laws and most importantly their husbands.
8) Hence, they end up accepting sindoor and mangalsutra and put it “willingly” and proudly assert it as their “wish”, leaving no corner for continuous arguments, psychological or physical violence.

My idea of these symbols has been narrowed down to a set pattern or structure where women have internalized violence without being aware of it and propagate it on the name of “choice”.
As an evidence, I would like to see how divorce rates go up as soon as “good bahus” start questioning “sindoor” and “mangalsutra” just for the sake of argument –  since we are told that it’s their “wish”, so just such a trial would be enough to confront reality!

Top image is a scene from the movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

First published here.

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