Newly-married women have a number of restrictions on their head simply because they’re the new brides. An easy way to ‘control’ them?
In Indian marriages, the whole ‘new’ bahu and ‘old’ bahu plays a very dramatic role in a woman’s life. When she is new, she is supposed to be decked up from top to toe with fancy outfits, heavy jewellery and wear loud makeup.
Though everything is new to her, she has to do it all with ease and constantly keep smiling. She is supposed to be smiling and beautiful and only nod at every task she is given, regardless of whether she’s done it earlier or not. And she has to do all of this with her pallu intact on her head, making sure it doesn’t fall.
Throughout everything, she isn’t supposed to utter even one word of resistance despite all the restrictions put on her. She constantly hears people say, ‘abhi nayi hai na,’ (she’s still new) along with a lot of instructions she had never imagined.
From ‘abhi toh kuch mahine saree pehenna hoga,’ ‘abhi toh sar dhakegi kam se kam,’ to ‘abhi kaise jaegi chatt pe, abhi ghar se nahi nikalna hai, abhi saj sawar ke raho’ to even ‘abhi chatt par mat jao, bagal wali aunty dekh lengi aur nazar laga dengi toh fir baccha hone mein dikkat ho sakti hai.‘ (Translation: ‘you’ll only have to wear a saree for a few months,’ ‘keep your head covered, at least for now,’ ‘don’t go to the terrace or even step outside, this is the time for you to dress up like a new bride,’ ‘don’t go to the terrace now, lest the neighbour sees you and casts an evil eye on you. It might hinder your ability to have a child!’)
She has to face all these physically and mentally uncomfortable things and a few others under the simple garb of, ‘abhi nayi ho.’ And when she asks when the ‘nayi ho,’ thing will end and when can she finally live her life normally, her MIL’s response is surprising! Now she is told, ‘ek bachha ho jaye toh karna apne mann ka. Nikalna ghar se bahar, koi dekhne bhi nai aayega tab.’ (Once you have a child of your own, do what you want to. Go out of the house, no one will even look at you)
I mean what kind of beliefs are those! When she is a young, new bride, she is just beginning her life with her own dreams and desires. She might want to go out and enjoy or buy things on her own at the market or even walk on the terrace and feel free!
When she is young, she is motivated and has to zeal to do things, at such times, why do you want her to stay at home and only do the household work? All day long, she is supposed to work while wearing heavy clothes and jewellery and minding the pallu on her head.
Then at night, you want her to take care of your son, and massage his feet because he’s worked hard all day. You also expect her to have sex with him ‘kyuki bachhe chahiye’ (You want them to have kids)
After all of this, when her pregnancy has made hormonal changes in her body and when she feels shapeless due to everything, she is given freedom. But now, she also has the responsibility of her child, the house, her husband and in-laws. Now she has the freedom because ‘abhi koi dekhege hi nai tumko, ab tum sab cheezen kar sakti ho, ab tum bahar bhi jaa sakti ho.’ (Now no one will even glance at you. You can do what you want and even go out!)
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Devdas
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