BY ANJALI SINGH
How many times have you questioned a woman’s marital status just because she didn’t wear symbols of marriage? I think we all have done that at least once in our lives. Although that’s not our fault. We all have grown up watching married women wearing sindoor (vermillion), mangalsutra (sacred thread), bangles, and toe rings. And these symbols now distinguish married from unmarried women.
Now, what if one day all men started wearing these symbols of marriage? We all will be surprised, right? As there are no such tags of marriage for men that could tell whether a man is married or not. Why so? Why don’t men have labels to indicate their marital status? Why do only women have to carry all the marriage symbols? What are all these symbols portray? Are they necessary? Does ek chutki sindoor have the power to affect someone’s married life? So many questions come to my mind.
Let’s first figure out the significance of these symbols.
In the Hindu religion, the mangal sutra and sindoor have great importance. It is said that mangalsutra signifies the inseparable bond between husband and wife. As the bond between the Shiva and the Shakti. All the married Hindu women wear this around their neck till their husband’s death.
Sindoor is an orange-red colored vermillion. It is considered to be very sacred – a sign of fertility even. Married women apply it on the parting of the hair. According to Hindu mythology, it signifies good fortune to married women. It īs also believed that the sindoor protects the husband and gives him a longer life. Widows and unmarried women aren’t allowed to wear any of the marriage symbols.
Actual Significance of Marriage Symbols
So what happens if we don’t wear them? Or we don’t like to wear them? Of course, the patriarchal society will start questioning your loyalty towards your husband. They might think you don’t care enough for your husband. Or even consider you as a widow or unmarried. Do we need symbols to tell everyone how much we care about our marriage? Or to tell how loyal we’re? But no one will ever question a husband’s love for her wife.
Oh, I forgot you need symbols to face these questions, my bad! I feel these symbols are more about labeling women ‘owned’ or ‘reserved’. There’s no such label for men. Maybe because this society believes they can’t be ‘owned’. In the name of culture, married women feel the pressure of following the rituals that have a lot to do with their family and husband. They carry suhaag ki nishani everywhere with them. I’ve not seen a single man carrying suhagan ki nishani.
I’m not opposing these tags of marriage. I believe it should be an individual’s choice to make. Some women may not like to wear them. Some may feel uncomfortable. Not having these labels should not affect someone’s married life. Nobody is liable to anyone for not wearing these marriage stamps.
In the past, divorced cases have been filed simply because women refused to wear these marriage labels. One example is last year’s case. When the Guwahati High Court granted divorce to a man. Stating that the wife refusing to wear sakha (conch shell bangles) and sindoor is regarded as her unwillingness to accept the marriage.
This clearly shows the actual significance of these labels. Is marriage defined by these labels only? Are words like- love, mutual understanding, and respect meant to be in the dictionary only? Do these stamps state that a woman is now a property of a man? Why do only women have chains around their necks and not men? I don’t think these symbols are sacred anymore in the eyes of patriarchy. If it is, no one should feel the pressure of wearing them 24*7 just for the sake of society.
Marriage Labels Are Not a Necessity
Now, many of you’d say, it’s the 21st century and many women don’t wear mangal sutra and sindoor. Yes! Now go back to the first line of this article. I don’t think not having labels around the neck or forehead makes a woman less of a wife. Marriage is more than these stamps. No one has to give proof of marriage to anyone. These symbols are now like any other ornament. Wear them if you want to. Don’t let them and society make you feel suffocated.