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Gauhati HC Judgement Harps On Sindoor As The Mark of A Sanskaari Naari

Posted: July 1, 2020

Gauhati High Court, granted divorce to a man after his wife refused to wear sindoor and sakha. Do women really have no choice over anything?

Ek chutki sindoor ki kimat in the Indian society was recently witnessed by a court hearing in Gauhati. A petition of divorce was granted to a man based on his wife’s ‘refusal to wear sakha and sindoor.’

According to the statement reported by Live Law.in, this act signifies the woman’s refusal to accept her marriage. It also states that the woman isn’t adhering to the Hindu marriage law.

Additionally, the husband and his family put a claim that the woman refused to stay with her in-laws. Thus, the court charged her with “trying to separate the son from his mother, not allowing him to fulfil his duties as a son.” Further, another report in The Wire also said, the court dismissed one out of three criminal charges put forth by the woman.

Don’t women have any rights at all?

In the modern society, where women are constantly fighting for an equal footing, High Court judgements like these, take our progress back to zero. By enforcing the idea that she has to wear a sakha and sindoor as a symbol of marriage, the woman’s voice, identity and choice are all stripped off from her. It is her choice, as a woman, to not symbolise her marriage by these traditions.

Sakha are coral bangles women are expected to wear after the wedding, as they symbolise good health and prosperity for the husband. But, like in this case, the women are rarely given a choice whether or not they want to wear these. 

In this case, the court questioned her about not wanting to stay with her in- laws and blamed her for separating the son from his parents. This mere act shows her standing in the house. Her decision not to stay with the in-laws is scrutinised and she is portrayed as the ‘bad woman’ who ‘stole the boy from his parents.’ In none of this is her reason to do so, looked at.

Of marriage and ‘belonging’ to someone

Adhering to the idea of woman upholding the Hindu marriage customs of wearing the sindoor and sakha showcase oppression of the institution. Women are often ‘marked’ with these as a sign of property and as a symbol of whom they ‘belong to.’

Her body, identity and belief are all controlled by her husband and his family. Why do women always have to wear symbols like and feel like property? Wearing sakha, sindoor, and mangalsutra are all for her husband’s health, prosperity and proving that she ‘belongs’ to him. They are yet another sign that show she is married and belongs to a man.

Her identity is these objects she is forced to wear. And her identity is that she is her husband’ wife. She rarely has her own identity. The goal of marriage is not for women to be owned by someone, they should be able to express themselves. Women need to have an identity other than being a wife and daughter-in-law.

The idea of the husband being ‘Shravan Kumar’ who has a duty towards his parents is quite deep-rooted within us. And if the wife says that she does not want to stay with his parents, she is often portrayed as the villain of the story.

Women have to leave their parents house, so isn’t their duty towards them hindered as well? Why are women often portrayed as the ones causing a rift in the family? She is the one who is answerable to the choices she makes for her own body, even as society claims that her body is not hers to own.

While the question isn’t whether the woman is right or wrong, it is that did the HC really need to place so much importance over these symbols of marriage? Whatever may have been her reasons, doesn’t the woman have a right over her own body?

Picture credits: Pexels

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