If you are a professional in an emerging industry, like gaming, data science, cloud computing, digital marketing etc., that has promising career opportunities, this is your chance to be featured in #CareerKiPaathshaala. Fill up this form today!
Sindoor Khela may be a tradition supposed to be followed only by married women but what happens when a divorcee decides to change it by breaking tradition?
Durga Pujo holds a special place in my heart. I can relate my childhood to this auspicious occasion and a number of my good memories are associated to it. There was a time when I bought new clothes, new pair of shoes especially for pujo and went pandal-hopping late at night with my parents. As a kid I used to be very excited about the pujo. I remember accompanying my mother when she went to buy gifts for all our relatives.
I used to take a special interest in sarees and would insist that my ma bought the latest fabric and design. There was a reason behind it. And now at this age, I realise how cruelly the society depicted the patriarchal role in the name of worship.
As a young girl I was told I would get married off someday to a prince just like Goddess Durga was married to Lord Shiva. The sarees my mother purchased would then be mine. I would need to wear them on these festivals, apply sindoor on my parted hair, wear sankha, pola, nowa (three bangles made from conch shells, coral and iron signifying a Bengali women’s marital status) and pray for a happy married life.
“Mum are you unhappy?” I had asked my mother once on her return from sindoor khela. To those who are unaware sindoor khela is a traditional Bengali custom where women on the last day of the puja, on bijoya dashami, when everyone bids adieu to the Goddess. Women apply sindoor on the feet and also on the hair of the goddess. Then celebrations continue where one woman will playfully smear sindoor on another. Again here the women folk would pray for a happy married life and prosperity of their husbands.
My question had startled my mother, but she explained that this is a ritual all married women follow and one day I would also do the same. Now I had a huge task in front of me, I needed a husband equivalent to Lord Shiva. Not to forget I had to offer prayers asking God for one such man in my life. Sometimes a thought crossed my mind. Does this kind of man even exist? Err… Let me not divert from the discourse. Once I marry, I will be a part of all the rituals and customs that a married lady follows in a Bengali household.
My fate willed otherwise. I had a love marriage with an orthodox Syrian Christian and it was loveless. My in-laws told me not to wear those bangles, apply sindoor and to forget about all the gods and goddesses. To my surprise, my husband came as a messiah. He encouraged me to follow my religion and also the customs. I was happy. My husband was indeed equivalent to Lord Shiva.
It was not long before I realised that this man was actually analogous to Devi Durga’s asura, let alone Lord Shiva. During the first year of my marriage, I happily draped myself in a saree, dressed up like a typical Bengali bride. Then, along with my husband went to attend pujo at the local club. But now religion came in my way. Since I was married to a Christian, I was no longer a Hindu, so the priest advised me to stay away from the rituals and sindoor khela in particular.
Thus, I was stopped in the very first year itself. I was married for eleven years post which I had to divorce my Lord Shiva since he had started resembling that asura. Mind you, all these eleven years I attended the pujo but couldn’t be a part of sindoor khela.
Now that I was divorced, I was a Hindu woman again but with the ‘single’ status. Yet again customs came in my way, and I was prohibited from being a part of sindoor khela since I wasn’t married anymore. I remember watching all the other women play gleefully while I sat in a corner cursing my bad luck.
This scenario continued for several years. I would sulk as others would enjoy themselves. I would still wear a saree but the missing sindoor on my forehead always posed a question to our society on my marital status. “Oh tumi divorced?” (Oh you are divorced?) was all I would hear.
Things would have continued in this manner had I not decided to break the stereotype. It was as if I got a new strength from Durga Ma. Last year during pujo, I decided to groom myself like a bride and attend the sindoor khela.
I draped a white saree with a red border (you must have seen it in the movie Kahani), applied vermillion in my parted hair, applied a dazzling red bindi on my forehead. Then I also wore the red white shanka, pola bangles my parents had gifted me during my wedding. They were safely tucked in the locker till I decided to rebel against these age old traditions of only married women having an access to them.
“Abar biye korecho naki?” (Did you remarry?) was the question bewildered ladies in the mandap asked me. Without bothering to reply, I bowed down to the deity, offered my prayers, applied sindoor on Durga Ma’s forehead before smearing the same on my hair. I did not feel the need to go and play with the other women. Women who came with their husbands and prayed for a ‘lived happily ever after’ life.
This year was no different. I chose to adorn myself the way I wished, shrugged off the glances from the curious species and attended pujo.
Let society decide its patriarchal norms, I will bounce back like Durga with all my strength to fight the stigmas and human induced taboos.
So what say folks – to hell with patriarchy and age old customs and let us say it together, “Dugga Mai Ki Jai”.
Picture credits: YouTube
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views. Individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times. If you have a complementary or differing point of view, sign up and start sharing your views too!
Rimli Bhattacharya is a First class gold medalist in Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of Technology, an MBA in supply chain management and is engaged with a corporate sector. Her essay in the anthology “Book read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!
Shows like Indian Matchmaking only further the argument that women must adhere to social norms without being allowed to follow their hearts.
When Netflix announced that Indian Matchmaking (2020-present) would be renewed for a second season, many of us hoped for the makers of the show to take all the criticism they faced seriously. That is definitely not the case because the show still continues to celebrate regressive patriarchal values.
Here are a few of the gendered notions that the show propagates.
A mediocre man can give himself a 9.5/10 and call himself ‘the world’s most eligible bachelor’, but an independent and successful woman must be happy with receiving just 60-70% of what she feels she deserves.
At one point, she confesses to her mother that the beatings are no longer physical, they have started affecting her mentally as well, and she wants to break free of this cycle of abuse.
Trigger Warning: This deals with domestic violence and may be triggering for survivors.
I recently watched Darlings on Netflix. It’s a quirky, dark satire featuring the dynamite duo of Alia Bhatt and Shefali Shah. The movie depicts domestic violence and the psychology of abuse.
Even though the subject matter is dark, there are light moments and humour, which make it immensely watchable. It stands out for its powerhouse performances and unique storyline.