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Bombay High Court Rules That Married Woman Without A Pallu Is Not Grounds For Divorce!

Posted: April 5, 2017

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A recent judgement by the Bombay High Court had to clarify that a married woman not using a pallu or vermilion (sindoor) is not grounds for divorce. Astonished? Read on!

When one thinks of the term ‘Cruelty’ especially in the context of relationships and especially between husband and wife, the term seems to have such different meanings. For some, even domestic violence is not cruelty, while a few are busy fighting for silly issues, such as citing it as cruelty and grounds for divorce if a woman doesn’t follow certain rituals to ‘look’ like a married woman.

For the first time, I could not believe the reason for a plea by husband in the Bombay high court.

I was amazed to see a recent judgement here which says, “The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court has held that the act of not covering the head with a pallu and removing vermilion from the forehead or mangalsutra would not be acts that constitute cruelty within the meaning of the term, under the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act. In the 21st century, a man would not be entitled to seek a divorce solely on the ground that his wife does not cover her head with the pallu of her saree and sometimes removes the mangalsutra and vermilion from her forehead just to tease him.”

Honestly, does it really matter in a relationship that a woman should always carry these symbols 24/7 like an identity card?

I am not against wearing mangalsutra or toe rings or any kind of ritual which a married woman is supposed to follow. In fact, I do love to wear them but as per my own comfort and choice and these are always on and off with my lifestyle. Also, one cannot assume that a lady who wears all these is not a feminist or one who doesn’t have the courage to fight against wrong. This is just a choice for a woman – she could decide whether she really wants to wear it or not, without disrespecting those who follow these rituals or customs.

I remember when I was a teenager, one of our neighbours used to fight among themselves a lot. They were parents too of two lovely daughters. Every night the husband used to beat her for some or other reason. However, I had never seen that lady in distress in front of others or crying over her misfortune. Things always ‘appeared’ perfectly fine with no grudges and complaints. She had a choice to divorce her husband for this cruelty which is actually cruelty in every sense but she didn’t and life moved on that way. Here, I am a firm believer that a woman should be strong enough to raise her voice against injustice of this nature or anything forced on her.

However, I don’t believe that wearing a mangalsutra, vermilion – or not – proves that anyone is lesser or greater than another. It’s just like the Karwa chauth fast that married women follow. A few find it romantic and a few assume it is anti-feminist but the fact remains the same – that it’s all about your thoughts, courage, and values, and not how you are looked upon by others. If someone feels happy to carry all these signs of marriage then let her be and if someone finds it difficult to manage, then let her be. It is her choice but it surely cannot be grounds for divorce; nor can we demean anyone for this reason.

When we are heading towards bettering our society, it’s high time that we strike a balance in our relationships with love and understanding, rather than judging people by their personal choices.

Top image via Pexels

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