When married Indian women strive to look unmarried.

There is a special term that describes a married Hindu woman who is blessed with good fortune, who is not’cursed’, who does not bring bad fortune to her husband and hence, whose husband is alive.  Such women are called suhagan or sumangali or saubhagyawati in various parts of India. Traditionally suhagan women were required to wear symbols of suhaag, that indicated that they were married and that their husband was alive.  These symbols include sindoor, thali, bindi, bichiye, bangles and mangalsutra.  These symbols are not permitted to unmarried women and widows, in fact these symbols are wiped away, torn off or broken if a woman is widowed, and she is considered inauspicious.

Now that many urban Hindu women do not wear these symbols or wear them only as accessories, it becomes difficult for random strangers to tell if a woman is married, widowed or unmarried.

How do some Hindu women get away with not-wearing the symbols of suhaag?

1. Some are married into liberal families and nobody cares if they wear these symbols only when they dress in traditional clothes, if at all.

2. Some feel it’s not right for women to be categorized based on their marital status, specially since these symbols are forbidden to widows. And these women are independent enough to ignore what the neighbors/random strangers feel.

3. Women whose husbands don’t connect their life expectancy with ek chutki sindoor.

4. Women who are very traditional but are forced/pressurized to give up symbols of suhaag. (They can’t be blamed because this isn’t their choice)

Now which of the above suhagans is the article below meant for?

Also note, the natural state of married-women is seen as decked with these symbols. Not applying these symbols is being seen as an effort. In contrast, natural state of men is seen as ‘men will be men’, ‘men have egos’ – ‘male dominated world, so men can do what they please’.

Do you think the author approves of women being expected to display these symbols?  Do these symbols protect women from ‘evil intentions of men’? What about widows and unmarried women then? Don’t they need this protection?

Or are we trying to accord a special place to women who brought good luck and long life to their husbands and hence deserve the special protection that these symbols are supposed to provide? How come many women are unimpressed with the privileges of having achieved the goal of Get-Married-Stay-Married?

Original post in Hindi here, विवाहित होते हुए भी अविवाहित दिखने की होड़ Link shared by Offended By Misogyny. A rough translation below.

“Striving to look unmarried despite being married. 

I noticed that Indian women in UK do not display symbols of suhaag  that married Hindu women are required to display. At first I thought this was because they wanted to do in Rome as Romans do, when I believe it’s more impressive if you look different from the crowd. But well, everybody has their own views on this and as it is, one would notice that now even in India people are running blindly in this race for blind modernism, like in a herd. Because of this even in India they don’t use all the symbols of suhaag, then how does one expect them to use them here, UK is a foreign land.”
“Now the question is what could be the reason that everybody wants to look unmarried i.e. chaste? According to me, this wish to look young and good looking is there in every human life long, maybe upto a limit more in women than in men. Men also like it of course. Hair colouring and clothes – humans can do anything to look young.”
Why? Simply because to look like a sheep, the jackal would have to look like sheep, no? Same is the case with married people who want to look unmarried or chaste, or young when they are actually old.
The only reason I can see for such thinking could be that if they convey through symbols of suhaag that they are married, then no young person would even look at them, which would lower their ‘shaan’ (prestige, impact) and everybody would consider them old and that they could never accept.
But in this matter men are super lucky. In this male dominated society, all suhaag symbols are only for women, and by tying religion to this custom they have been made compulsory. I have objection to that.
All these symbols of suhaag don’t affect how long somebody lives, but the rules should have been applied to men also. But alas men’s egos and shallow superficialities, they have no faith so they have made these rules. More important than breathing is the requirement for women to wear these symbols of suhaag, so that no ‘other man’ sees them with ‘bad intentions’.
But today when women are walking ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with men, then if men don’t walk with proof of being married, why should  we women do that?
But it’s not about egos clashing, to a limit this is about culture, tradition, beauty and to a large extend about protection too.
I feel no matter how beautiful a woman is, if she is married, then without any sindoor, mangalsutra, bangles and bichiye, her beauty is incomplete.
I feel, and you may not agree, but the crown on a suhagaan’s head is ‘ek chutki sindur’ because sindur in itself, is not just a symbol of suhaag, but the colour of mutual love and trust.
It not only protects you from those with bad intentions, but also adds tremendously to your beauty. So along with honoring ek chutki sindoor, accept it whole heartedly, there is no harm in it, instead it’s only good for you. Jai Hind.”
This is a rough translation, you may like to read the original in Hindi. 
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131 thoughts on “When married Indian women strive to look unmarried.

  1. ‘I feel, and you may not agree, but the crown on a suhagaan’s head is ‘ek chutki sindur’ because sindur in itself, is not just a symbol of suhaag, but the colour of mutual love and trust.’

    ‘Mutual’ love and trust didja say? Then perhaps even the men should get to wear ek chutki sindoor!

    Grr. So many places in this article where I felt like saying ‘what a load of B.S.’ (please pardon the French).

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      • The only reason I can see for such thinking could be that if they convey through symbols of suhaag that they are married, then no young person would even look at them, which would lower their ‘shaan’ (prestige, impact) and everybody would consider them old and that they could never accept.

        There are better things that women can focus on in their lives rather than look ‘married’ and display a relationship of mutual trust and love that they share with their husbands. Lady (original article writer), please get a life.

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    • OMG, I was going to comment the EXACT same thing!!

      Also, would like to add that there are many other options for a married women to make her “Beauty Complete”. How about some lipstick and eyeshadow?

      If my husband ever asks (read:force) me to wear such symbols, I will ask him to do the same for me first. Is he also not married to me? Does he not wish to see me live a long healthy life?

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    • Maybe I got this wrong but I thought the red color on the forehead (sindhoor) meant the woman was not a virgin. Whether that was the original custom or not, it looks ugly, so it’s a good thing if women have stopped doing that.

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  2. Copied from the movie – “the crown on a suhagaan’s head is ‘ek chutki sindur’”😀

    Ek chutki sindoor ki keemat has depreciated since the 70s, the time in which the movie is set. It’s a pity this piece is written by a woman.

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      • I bothered to skim through the original blog post in Hindi, the comments below the post, the author’s responses to them, and also the comments below the cross-post on Zee News. My Hindi is not very good but her writing doesn’t seem like sarcasm to me. She has even put up a still from a saas-bahu TV serial in her post. She speaks of cherishing your culture and values in foreign countries by doing these things – she is currently based in Britain. Her rationale is that if you “feel” married, flaunt it. If you avoid flaunting it, it implies you are faking your marital status, and you may even be ashamed of your culture or disrespectful towards in it in a way.

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        • Zounds, she’s got a bad case of Bharatophilia. That’s a disorder that afflicts those Pravasi Bharatiyas who love their culture so much that they need to put an ocean between their homeland and themselves.

          They then spend their lives unfovorably comparing their adopted homeland to Bharat Desh,

          To the author of the post: Lady, if you love your traditions so much, why not buy a one-way ticket back home?

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  3. Well, I guess the author is so confused what she wants to say. Or maybe, she wants to be politically( read religiously) correct, all the time.

    If those symbols are for protection from men, I guess unmarried and widowed women need it all the more. There would be a small percentage of urban women who say no to these symbols. But, 90% of the married men don’t even sport an engagement ring! Why so? So that they can disguise as unmarried , right? If no one even questions them, why are always women questioned and frowned upon, every time they do something they wish?

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  4. Why hasn’t it occurred to the author that maybe those women were not trying to look married OR unmarried and perhaps were only trying to look like themselves? I, for one, don’t wake up every day wondering if I should look married or unmarried today.

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  5. “More important than breathing is the requirement for women to wear these symbols of suhaag, so that no ‘other man’ sees them with ‘bad intentions’.” – Really??? I would like to ask the author, what about the unmarried women then? Can a man look at them with bad intentions? Or should they fake being married so that any man does not see them with bad intentions!

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    • Exactly! What a solution! Now unmarried Indian women in India – no need to carry pepper spray etc. If you see romeos with roving eyes – or indeed if you percieve the danger of being shoved into a car full of rapists – just upturn the sindoor dibba on your head. Then the rapists will immediately stop unzipping and let you go. And to all the married Indian women in India who are suitably armed with the sindoor, mangalsutra, toe-rings, nose rings, bangles …if you still encounter a rapist…tough luck….you became a victim because of your past bad karma. That’s what The Great Indian Reasoning System says.

      And married Indian woman in UK upholding suhagan status – given the fact that you are in UK, the rapists are quite naturally UK fellows. They don’t know what the heck all those ‘symbols’ mean. For all you know they might be even more powerfully attracted to you. Nose ring, earring…yeah sometimes multiple piercings on the ear…aaah a woman with body piercings …oooh how cool…bangles and toe-ring…ooooh how sexy in a bling bling way…and all that GOLD…oooh how they can sell it for some cocaine…and that red thing on your forehead ….ooooh what a bold hair colour….and that mehandi on your hands….oooh you are inked….oooh over all what a funky punk you are….surely you must enjoy ‘doing it’…

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  6. I have a Muslim maid who wears toe rings and puts sindoor. She was admonishing me,”didi, why don’t you wear bangles in both hands and put a bindi….bare hands look so odd.” We have such different mind sets, different cultures and beliefs…..

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    • OMG!!! You just snatched my words. Everytime I visit India I have to hear this from people… “Bare hands look bad and with sindoor a women looks more married and what not” It isn’t about one person… it is a viscious circle which is going on since centuries.

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  7. The same old same old story! women are public property, anyone can judge her and control her life!

    I would like to share something here. A male colleague was getting married and we were discussing about ceremonies. He suddenly said ‘I notice that you dont wear any suhagan symbols, isn’t that important?’. I said ‘It is not middle ages and I believe it is personal choice’. This was his reply. ‘It is very important, it is traditional and you should never remove the mangalsuthra, it will bring bad luck to your husband, I will definitely ask my wife to wear it’! This person has a phd from India’s top most scientific institute, have been in foreign countries for several years and is now working at an IIT.

    Well, nothing surprises me now a days after reading and educating myself about women’s issue But I never expected him to say that my husband’s life expectancy depends on whether or not I wear a chain! Are you f***ing kidding me??!!! (Pardonne moi French)

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    • When I got married, I neither wanted, nor could remember to put sindoor. My hubby would ask everyday, have you put sindoor? So I used to put a tiny dot of maroon under my hairline, and as I have a haircut with bangs, it won’t show up anyways. Its been 3 years, and now he forgets to ask, and I forget to put.
      People change, you know.

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    • But the guy has not STUDIED in an IIT. that makes all the difference. That 4 years at IIT helps him think differently – The girls there sure do a good job

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      • I dont think studying in IITs or any other top institutes for that matter changes such guys. My husband and I studied in one of such institutes n we see many of them with the similar ideologies.

        My husband was chatting with one of those friends the other day. The guy stays abroad and his parents were planning on him getting married soon and so the search for the bride was on. He was like, the girl should be very traditional, not like the girls I see here. They go to pubs, they dress vulgar, they drink etc etc n he said he hates that western culture.

        When my husband pointed out to the guy that he too drinks n goes to pubs, enjoys staring at those girls who as per him dress vulgar, he says women drinking is bad for the future children. But drinking is bad for anyone, right? The male’s fertility also gets affected by drinking. But he says no, thats not the thing, female shouldn’t be like that, shouldn’t dress like that etc etc..he got very defensive and signed out..We were like WTH, you really studied at one of the top institutes n got Masters from a foreign university?!

        I understand everyone has their own tastes n ideas for a partner. But shouldn’t they themselves follow their so-called good traditional indian culture n principles before judging n preaching someone else? Why do such guys even get married??

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  8. While I think it’s perfectly fine for the author to endorse the wearing of sindoor, I think the decision to wear it or not should be left to the woman. That is what liberalism is about, and I’m a liberal.
    I’m also married, and I feel very strongly about certain things that people in general expect me to do or not do simply because of some sexual stereotypes that serves purposes decidedly other than my own good. Wearing sindoor, shakha and pola (I’m a Bong) is just one of them.
    I wear them sometimes a) to please my MIL, b) to please my own parents, and c) to dress up if I’m wearing traditional stuff. I NEVER wear them to protect myself, to feel trust and loyalty (B.S.) or to indicate that my husband is alive and therefore I’m unavailable.
    I’ve been lucky to know how the practice of sindoor-wearing started. It was actually an ancient custom among tribal war lords to capture/abduct women from any city or village they laid siege on, and the leader of the pack was given the privilege to pick the best of the loot – i.e. the youngest women. After he was done, he would mark their foreheads with a sharp object (probably with a signature style) to create a scar – that would remain forever for everyone to see, thus sealing her fate as the chief’s woman. This practice evolved in later days as a one of the signs of marriage.
    Call me radical, but I’ve been reading Manu Samhita in recent times and my blood boils at the gender roles our religion upholds. Wearing or not wearing sindoor is child’s play, if you compare it with the bigger question of what we, as Manu Samhita-abiding Hindus, actually regard our women as?
    I’m a fallen woman, an outcast, and a home-wrecker by any parameters of Mr. Manu😛
    Thanks for a great post.

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    • I agree with you Sampurna..Whether to wear it or not it’s wearer’s wish. I am working married lady wear sindoor everyday, bindi only on traditional attire.Wear Sankha( red bangles) on traditional outfit but if that doesn’t match my outfit color i wear different bangles.
      It is not like that i wear sindoor to look married or due to compulsion. If i don’t wear its not to look m not married. On western clothes bindi and Sankha doesn’t go well so i dont wear. My husband is youngest of 2 sons. My sister in law always wears saree and all the shuag ki nisani.but i don’t and this doesn’t create any issue at home.
      Just wearing all suhag ki nisani doesnt make a lady good wife and bahu.
      Follow tradition with happiness not with compulsion. If you are compelled to do one thing then one day you will rebel against that so listen to your mind not what society is telling.

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  9. No wonder my ex- MIL blames my decision to divorce my husband on my never wearing these ‘symbols of a married woman’ during my stay abroad (which made up 99.5% of my married life). She believes because I didn’t abide by the laws of married women, my interest in marriage died and I decided to something so unholy (referring to divorce).

    If only wearing these symbols could guarantee love, respect, happiness, understanding and success in married life like magical charms *sigh!* (sarcasm intended)

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    • When you had the time and the inclination you could have said to her: maybe my interest in the marriage died because your son didn’t wear any of those nishaanis.😀😛 I doubt it matters now when you are liberated and happy🙂

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      • I was tempted to tell her that had her beliefs in those symbols held any truth, she would have lost her son and not have seen him being divorced😉 afterall the symbols are meant to ensure a healthy, long life for the husband and not of the marriage😛😉

        I agree, it really doesn’t matter now🙂

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  10. Its very unfortunate that a woman has such thoughts! Definitely boiled my blood being a part of similar family members😦
    I was forced to poke my nose after marriage as it was some crap symbolic for married women. But stuck to my moms advise “never do something to your body that ur mind does not like”.
    But many women do not have such strength and crumble upon the absurd demands. Sometimes in the name of “respecting your elders” and sometimes in the name of “Love”. Its high time women are rightly educated about their rights\freedom and they fight for it !!!

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  11. Who would be bothered to adorn oneself with these symbols of suhaag when you have to wear kilos of warm clothes most of the year in UK?! And when you are so covered in sweaters and overcoats can you actually see these symbols? Or can anyone else?

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  12. “One would notice that now even in India people are running blindly in this race for blind modernism, like in a herd.”

    Gorblimey! So when you follow traditions BLINDLY, it is not “Race for Blind Traditionalism”?! And following traditions BLINDLY is not following a herd? Wow. Some selective blindness here.

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  13. A bit sick of these judgemental holier-than-thou set really. The world would be a better place without them.

    Women staying abroad have a tougher time balancing home and career because unlike in India, there is no domestic help. From laundry & ironing to vaccuming – everything has to be done by oneself. In many home, the burden of many of these domestic chores fall on the women. Even if one is not working, I’ve seen how busy home makers are – simply because of the domestic chores + driving the kids to school, general shopping for the home, visits to the doc, driving kids to extra classes and so on.

    It is unfortunate that the author, instead of acknowledging the hard work these women put in, he/she only has made ridiculous and pathetic assumptions on these women’s characters.

    What on earth does this author mean by saying //Same is the case with married people who want to look unmarried or chaste, or young when they are actually old. The only reason I can see for such thinking could be that if they convey through symbols of suhaag that they are married, then no young person would even look at them, which would lower their ‘shaan’ (prestige, impact) and everybody would consider them old and that they could never accept.//

    Is this author’s thinking so twisted and dirty that he/she thinks married women don’t wear sindhoor so that they can ‘lure’ and ‘attract’ the attention of younger men? Really? Try this logic you sicko. THey DON’T have time for this bullsh*t when they are busy running around to get the kids to school on time or have to reach work on time. Since you specifically mention UK – I suppose you are aware of the motorway traffic at peak hours and the crowd in the tube. And most would abstain from the ‘suhaag’ paraphernelia because its all about looking professional. Given the rain in UK no one would want a red tricke dripping down their nose.

    I’m sure these women are cherished, valued and loved by their husbands because of their intelligence, their super ability to hold everything together at home – and not because of how they look or what they wear. I’m sure that is not the case with you in your home, given your narrow views.

    //I feel no matter how beautiful a woman is, if she is married, then without any sindoor, mangalsutra, bangles and bichiye, her beauty is incomplete.// Why are you and everyone like you so OBSESSED with the physical ‘beauty’ of a woman? Why are you so psychologically stunted that you cannot see beauty in intelligence and character?

    Sindhoor and protection? Congrats – you have gone beyond bullshit this time. You seriously think a rapist will not rape a woman because he THINKS she is married? Which world are you living in?

    Overall, what a stinking email.

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  14. Dear Person whose note has been put up

    I dont know about the UK, but in Bombay, I definitely know of people (including myself) who are not too interested in flaunting off our married status…because there are millions of other things we have to do in life

    like cook for our family, rush to catch the bus/train to work, ensure the kiddo is dressed to school on time, come back to do the cooking, etc etc etc…you know I am sure how it is for an Indian wife who is trying to be a super human na…

    Midst all this activities its really tough to get time to wear that chutki bhar sindoor….especially if that sindoor happens to give you rashes eh?

    and oh you say that //But in this matter men are super lucky. In this male dominated society, all suhaag symbols are only for women, and by tying religion to this custom they have been made compulsory. I have objection to that/// – Thanks a ton for writing that, now I know that you are at least agreeing that men should have some suhaag symbols eh?

    //But it’s not about egos clashing, to a limit this is about culture, tradition, beauty and to a large extend about protection too./// – So are you telling me that the chutki bhar sindoor is potent enough to protect females from any one who is trying to harm them..darn! you should have said it earlier na..then I am sure millions of ‘married women in sarees and mangalsutras’ who get raped and mutilated everyday in India would have been saved..by what?? arey that chutki bhar sindoor boss!

    //I feel, and you may not agree, but the crown on a suhagaan’s head is ‘ek chutki sindur’ because sindur in itself, is not just a symbol of suhaag, but the colour of mutual love and trust./// – you are right, I am not agreeing that that chutki bhar sindoor is the colour of mutual love and trust..in my marriage, its the blue colour Harry potter book he buys for me, which tells me that he loves me, its that green colour palak he painstakingly cuts for me which tells me that he loves me, its that black colour kurta which he gets for me which tells me that he loves me, its that yellow colour daal he cooks for me which tells me that he loves me…Gah to the chutki bhar sindoor

    Errr…sorry IHM, just got too carried away eh?

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  15. Ughhhh! What a twisted thinking. I really do not understand people like her, who sit drenched in their holier-than-thou attitude and pass judgement on the rest of the world. A woman wearing or not wearing sindoor is her own business. And whether she wants to wear it in a foreign land is AGAIN her own business. Who are we to pass judgement on her?
    And if all the women living in a foreign land would have smeared sindoor in their heads, I am sure the writer would have been very very happy because then all the women comply to her twisted definition of a perfect bhartiya nari.
    //I feel no matter how beautiful a woman is, if she is married, then without any sindoor, mangalsutra, bangles and bichiye, her beauty is incomplete.
    One word – Bullshit!
    //sindur in itself, is not just a symbol of suhaag, but the colour of mutual love and trust.
    Really? Mutual love and trust? Wait a sec then. It seems I cannot trust my wife because she never puts Sindoor in her head? I should be suspicious about her activities because she might be trying to attract men by not showing off that she is married?
    IHM, if you do not mind, I will copy paste this comment on her blog too. The poor soul needs a piece of my mind.

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    • Hmm…now it makes me think…where do have this particular definition about a Bhartiya Nari?? Is it written somewhere in the vedas or something? Is there some law about it???? Who the hell decided what a typical bhartiya nari should wear and what she shouldn’t??
      All my life in Mumbai, I have been wearing salwar suits and later sarees. I got modernised post marriage thanks to my husband who thinks I look best in western clothes.
      And what is the harm in shedding all that jewellery and symbols when in turn you can look smart, chick and all the more feminine???!!! And even if it is done with the intention of attracting attention from men, a little flirting never hurt anybody. As if men don’t do it!
      Perhaps if you let a woman be herself and let her choose for herself, she would be a whole lot happier.

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      • my husband says the same thing. according to him he says that i come back to him and that is all it matters.
        more importantly – faith and trust is within the person. these symbols of marriage can be kept in the bag once you leave for work and put them back on when one returns home. i am sure manu did not want any symbols for men, because men sure can trust themself. they sure can rape somebody after work and come back normal. No bright neon color sindoor will be rubbed off !!! MEN make laws that suits themselves

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    • Not anything Bikram, do you agree that married women don’t wear symbols of suhaag to get young men’s attention?
      //…if they convey through symbols of suhaag that they are married, then no young person would even look at them, which would lower their ‘shaan’ (prestige, impact) and everybody would consider them old and that they could never accept.//

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      • Right can i ask something, How does it matter what I think, and Why should it matter .. what i think is my problem and what others think is their’s.

        I dont find anything wrong in either way, its personal choice.. many will flaunt it , many will use it for benefit, and many as you say wont use it to look young,

        Personally I have a lot of married friends and I cant recall any of them wearing the traditional married dresses, but I dont think they are doing it to get someone’s attention.

        This all comes to OUR own individual mentality, how we percieve what do we think in our mind if we see a woman in Chuda or sindoor or other stuff on .. and the same woman without it all ..

        We shud ask that EYE that is looking not the person who is wearing or not wearing things

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  16. Look, there’s nothing wrong with wearing sindoor, thali and mangalsutra. If you want to then that’s good for you. But there is something wrong with forcing all married Indian women to wear it.

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    • To put it another way, no woman is required to display her marital status for anyone else’s convenience. Her marital status is nobody else’s business. If someone wants to know for any specific reason, all they have to do is just ask…

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  17. Do you think the author approves of women being expected to display these symbols?

    — Yes, but doesn’t have the courage of her convictions. Hence the long winded ,rather lip servicy parts about doing in Rome as Romans do, woman mindlessly following the herd to be “modern” etc.

    Do these symbols protect women from ‘evil intentions of men’? What about widows and unmarried women then? Don’t they need this protection?

    — These symbols offer no physical protection whatsover if the woman in question is attacked by a physically stronger man/men. They are, in some sections of society ( where woman are considered the property of men) the equivalent of a “reasonable precaution” such as the “security guard” at the colony gate who acts as a possible deterrent to the casual thief (other men with bad intentions), but inconsequential to thieves/burglars (other men ) with “evil intentions” and the means to carry out the attack.

    Or are we trying to accord a special place to women who brought good luck and long life to their husbands and hence deserve the special protection that these symbols are supposed to provide?

    — Yes, people like the author definitely reserve that special place for such woman.

    How come many women are unimpressed with the privileges of having achieved the goal of Get-Married-Stay-Married?

    — Because they have brains and the ability to use them. Also, many women like me who choose to get married, do so, because they happen to be interested in sharing their life with the man they marry and not because they are interested in buying a respectable place in society/because their parents and society would not think well of them otherwise.

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  18. You asked, “What about widows and unmarried women then? Don’t they need this protection?”

    Well, of course not! Only respectable women do…and only married women are respectable! (being sarcastic, of course)

    But anyway, on a more serious note, this “ek chutki sindoor” has always seemed like an equivalent of some kind of a collar for me, like a symbol of ownership. I prefer the Christian practice of exchanging rings, at least it goes both ways!

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  19. I never wanted to look like a walking just-married advertisement. Though I loved wearing my chuda and felt weird taking it off, I got married in April and lived with it for the specified 45 days after which I halved and finally removed it. Thankfully, my MIL didn’t have issues with no being adorned in a bridal way unless for a special occassion and even then, I stick with my idea of familiar.

    There’s no concept of mangalsutra in my husband’s family so I didn’t get one. We didn’t have an engagement ceremony so he never wore a ring until a year ago when he said he wanted to wear one. So we both got a pair of simple gold bands. The idea of wearing a mangalsutra has grown on me and he gifted me one on our anniversary.

    It’s more a matter of choice in the end. I’ve had HUGE clashes with my grandmother who insisted I wear some gold bangles, chains, etc., I’m not used to wearing the stuff so I got myself a simple bracelet which I like wearing sometimes.

    My biggest concern with all these ornaments is and always will be, that wearing as many signs of adornment (it doesn’t have to be gold, just my perspective) is an open invitation to thieves, is it not? I get tradition, what about practicality?

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  20. Forgot to add, even now, when both of us have chosen to wear rings or a mangalsutra, is because we want to, and most definitely not to protect ourselves from the hocus pocus that traditional symbolism per the author will. If someone is going to make a pass at either or us, or bother us or hurt us, that’s going to happen with or without the mangalsutras and the rings and the sindoor.

    Please, you think someone really cares for your marital status when they want to cause your harm? People who want to act inappropriately do so even when they know you and know that you’re married.

    In any case, I do not understand what gender and marital status have to do with anyone outside the marital relationship and equation. Who are you to judge?

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  21. This line bothered me the most: ““Now the question is what could be the reason that everybody wants to look unmarried i.e. chaste?” Unmarried= chaste= virginal= pure
    UGH!

    Like

    • I really don’t think she understands the motivation of people who choose not to wear marital symbols. It’s not because they want to look chaste. People have many motivations but I doubt that is one! More likely they are not wearing because they are not convenient, easily breakable, too conspicuous (it can be dangerous to wear armfuls of gold these days!), because they believe in equality and men do not wear them, etc.

      Likewise, if you told her that the reason she wears her marriage symbols is to show the world that she is a willing slave to her husband and his family, that she wears her bangles as a symbol that she is shackled, that she wears her sindoor because it has lead in it that will reduce the length of her life and therefore the burden she puts on her in-laws, she’d think you were crazy🙂

      Like

  22. I dont wear any of the “symbols” except for my wedding ring. Its not because I want to look unmarried or young, its because I simply don’t like the “symbols”. Two days after I got married, we went to my husbands village to visit his uncles families. The women were surprised that I was not wearing sandoor or bindi. One even asked me why i was not wearing them and i told her “because I dont want to”. I have seen some of my friends get married and then you meet them after a week and they are all decked up with sandoor, bindi, gold jewlery, red suits, ahhhhh, it all just looks ugly to me. I wear my wedding ring because my husband and I picked it out ourselves and i see it as a token of his love. I like the ring a lottt so thats why i wear it all the time. My opinion is, wear the “symbols” if you like them, dont wear them if you dont like them. simple as that.

    Like

    • I also don’t wear any symbols of marriage.I wore my engagement ring for some days but then I took it off as I wasn’t feeling comfortable wearing it.My husband doesn’t have any issues with it.I do wear a bracelet gifted by my husband on my birthday.Even my mother in law and her other 2 daughter-in laws including me don’t wear any of the symbols.We wear accessories according to our choice.The women can’t make out whether I am south indian /north indian or muslim or christian.Does it really matters?I am an Indian firstly and lastly.

      Like

    • //I have seen some of my friends get married and then you meet them after a week and they are all decked up with sandoor, bindi, gold jewlery, red suits, ahhhhh, it all just looks ugly to me.//

      Agree absolutely. Also, a bit off topic, but I also hate the way some women seem to have no social life until they get married, and suddenly start having all sorts of fun after. It seems all wrong to me.

      Like

    • Absolutely! Wear the ‘symbols’ if you like them. I personally like wearing mangalsutra but I also wear artificial jewellery or simple gold chains when I want to. No questions asked by my husband or other family members. It is my personal choice.

      Like

  23. Reading your blog is getting addictive now !🙂
    One thing I could’nt understand. Why does the writer of this post assumes that a rapist/murderer would consider your marital status before planning an assault ? He is going to marry you now, is he ? How does donning these signs of suhaag protect you?
    Can’t believe she carries these age old thoughts to Manchester.
    I had a chat with my cousin (girl,20,born n brought up in US ) and she asserted that the biggest reason for Indians being thought as heterogeneous and passive in mixing with International culture is because they bring with them so much of their cultural baggage across the border. No wonder we are stereotyped as “The village people”.

    Like

  24. I was a bit confused initially whether this article was being sarcastic…but it somehow feels like the author is being really serious about what she is saying here.
    It irritates the heck out of me when it is assumed that all women think is always related to marriage (and everything accompanies it). As GB said above, whether I look married or unmarried is the last thing on my mind when I wake up. Or at any given time. What happened to women wearing something or not wearing something because they prefer it that way? and not because they want to look married or unmarried. Ek chutki sindoor makes a woman beautiful, the author says?! Well, I respectfully disagree. To me, it is just a hassel which messes up my hair (and introduces dandruff, if I may add). It is irrelevant how I look with sindoor on/off. The only thing which can be considered a “symbol” of any sort which I wear is my wedding ring. And that too because it has sentimental value attached to it.
    And she talks about mutual love in the marriage, then why not leave wearing/not wearing of particular stuff to the woman herself and notmake it a rule? Otherwise there is no mutual love anywhere, right?!

    Like

  25. The poor autor is a confused soul — that is all i get,m she’s can decide if she wants to admire the women doing a sthey please or not.

    I’ve been married over 2 decades, never wore the mangalsutra regularly.. never have worn sindoor – i didn’t thnk s.indians did and didn’t have anyone telling me otherwise, never wore bangles, just a bracelet and detest toerings.. although i’m never without my anklets. various colors, sizes, etc., one of our neighbours hated this.. she always felt i wanted to be a little girl not wearing suhag nishani but wearing anklets and she could never get over my small black bindi …so far my spouse is hale and hearty if anything becoming more childish in his stupid pranks as he ages..🙂
    hasn’t dropped dead yet. this neighbour aunty’s DIL is a sweet young tigress .. who took off her mangalsutra for her delivery and the next day her husband fell from his bike, acco to my son the idiot was trying to rush and climbed up and then down the pavement and hit a stone.. so guess who got blamed, the MANGLAsutra taking off caused the idiot to fall… and a hungama ensued… after she recollected this to my us and my husband remarked that ‘ thank god my R’s thali doesn’t have this power, cause everytime i pissed her off, off it would come and i’d break a few bones – scary’
    i wish the mangalsutra had such powers…

    Like

  26. IHM, I apologise in advance for an unduly long comment, but I have so many problems with the piece that I don’t know where to begin and where to end.

    Women strive to look unmarried and “chaste” so they can attract young men??!! Huh, what? Why doesn’t the author just say what she means here, that they want to look unattached and available? I would have at least given her credit for standing by her opinions.

    She simultaneously recognises that all of these symbols have been unfairly burdened on women, yet she thinks that they should continue to wear them because a married woman’s “shringar” is incomplete without symbols of “suhaag”. Does that mean that a beautiful woman sans sindoor will suddenly turn not-so-beautiful in her eyes as soon as her married status becomes known?

    If she is a UK resident, and is so worried about symbols of mutual love and respect, why is she not advocating a collective move to wedding bands? It’s a lovely system – equal for both spouses, incospicuous enough for everyday life, yet a strong statement that the person is tied to another.

    But no, she is worried about maintaining a distinct identity in a foreign land. Again, this burden falls on the woman – why? Would the NRI men who are praising her blog be willing to go to their corporate jobs wearing a tika on their foreheads?

    Like

  27. “it’s only good for you.”
    It is so not. Most Sindoors available in the market today are carcinogenic.
    Of course I agree with all the other reasons about why this article is crap but just wanted to share this point as well

    Like

  28. So the sindur and mangalsutra are symbols of mutual love and trust, are they? So if hubby darling’s wandering eyes or hands fall upon a nubile bosom, does the sindur fly off the woman’s forehead and blind his wandering eyes, or stain his wandering hands so the suhangan know what patidev has been upto?

    What a load of drivel. The writer should at least have the intellectual honestly of admitting that she likes the status quo instead of making this a man vs woman issue.

    Men in the West wear wedding rings, so its not about men’s egos, its about accepted cultural practises.

    Like

    • “So if hubby darling’s wandering eyes or hands fall upon a nubile bosom, does the sindur fly off the woman’s forehead and blind his wandering eyes” HAHAHA!

      As for the e-mail…I don’t know why the writer thinks she can dictate what married women should wear, that too in the UK! If she feels wearing all these things makes a woman beautiful (suits some women very well, others not so much) she can put five sindoors on her forehead.

      Like

    • I toiled through the link with my slow, self-taught Hindi. For those whose Hindi is worse than mine (i.e. those who know none at all), divorce is rampant today because women are financially self-reliant and are no longer willing to keep mum and tolerate “small” abuses at their sasurals. And this is horrible because the real wealth of a person consists of his/her relationships and family.

      Could it be that the author is, by compulsion or habit, stuck in her role as the obedient housewife, and is simply trying to convince a fast progressing world (and herself?) that she is better off than the “modern” women who have shunned this life?

      Like

  29. I don’t get the “strive to look unmarried” part. Is there some permanent change that happens to our appearance as soon as we get married which we scrub away every morning with great effort?

    In fact, all the ladies who put on the sindhoor and bangles and mangalsutra are striving to achieve the particular look. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but women in their natural state don’t come with either makeup or mangalsutra.

    Another thing that gets my goat is that the author thinks somehow it is ok for unmarried girls to be subjected to unwanted attention and only the married ones need to be shielded from it. Unwanted attention is unwanted in both cases. Then what makes married women special to avail the exemption? Is it because the author thinks unmarried girls are public property but married ones have been claimed?

    The entire line of thought is disgusting.

    Like

  30. Maybe married women need to get their status tattooed on their forehead. That way they cannot forget and they will be marked😀.
    Actually I like the sindoor flying out and blinding imagery particularly awesome!Though it would be a bit of a problem if the spouses were not in the same location, but maybe it could be a drone strike kind of sindoor.

    Like

  31. There is an angle which none of you are considering. The writer’s rant seems to influenced by the fact that she is a foreign country where she sees threat to her idea of Indianess when she sees desis all around her going out of their way to blend in. When you have bobby jindals and nikki haleys you are sure to have people like the author that goes the other way and turns more rigid and conservative. I believe a desis idea of India is like a picture stuck in time unlike the evolving nature of Indian culture in their homeland.

    Like

    • I was in a shopping mall in Singapore when I noticed an Indian woman wearing a short t-shirt, track pant, payal, hair let loose and adorned with jasmine flowers and a long bindi and sindoor. Nothing can beat the way a newly married Indian woman, whom I saw during our visit to the Singapore Zoo, was dressed. Heavily bordered saree, sindhoor, big bindi, payal, bangles- typicalIndian bride. And needless to add, she was the centre of attraction (amusement, I must say) and ya the guy was dresses casually in t-shirt and jeans!

      Like

  32. कितन सुन्दर लेख लिखा है पल्लवी जी ने!! एक विवाहित स्त्री को अवश्य ही सिंदूर, बिंदी, मंगलसूत्र, चूड़ियां, बिछिये पहनने चाहिए! इसके साथ साथ अपने पति को सदा प्रसन्न रखने के लिए सज-धज कर रहना चाहिए और अच्छा अच्छा खाना पकाना चाहिए. बिना चूं-चा किये पति और उनके घरवालों की आज्ञा का पालन करना चाहिए. रात्रि समय पति के पैर दबाने चाहिए….आखिर पति परमेश्वर होते हैं….
    ऐसी बातें हमें अपनी लड़कियों को बचपन से सिखानी चाहिए ताकि वे पूरी उम्र अपने पति से दब कर एक वफादार नौकरानी बनकर रहे. यदि वे फिर भी न मानें तो खाप पंचायत से मदद लेनी चाहिए…..

    Like

  33. Is she for real? Damm you can’t tell if someone is being sarcastic in Hindi. In your translation initially I thought it was written by a confused guy who got accidently shipped to UK. The crown of woman blah blah blah thingy.. wasn’t that the melodramatic dialogue from a movie? Super confused about the intentions here.

    Like

  34. I only have one question for the author in response to her post. If we’re the ones who need to be wearing all of this, then whose choice should it be to wear or not to wear? As simple as that. If I like it I wear it, if I don’t then let me be. I respect people who do wear it if they wear it out of choice. Even if they don’t, that’s still their choice to have gone along with it. For those who don’t wear it, well, why should someone else care?

    Like

  35. The wedding symbols, the mangalsutra, sindur, bangles etc had the same meaning in India as the ring has in the west. The basic premise being that men are free to approach and ask for intent as long as the woman is single and it is inappropriate to do so if you see these symbols.
    These symbols would still be respected by women if they carry the same value.

    Women in India are being hit on, abused, molested and raped irrespective of age and status. A 15 year old single school girl has to make tremendous efforts to not get her back pinched in a bus the same way a 45 year old married woman with two kids does. No wonder these meaningless symbols died down.

    The blog writer has perhaps lived long enough in UK, away from her homeland, it shows in her distorted view of some mythical India. When a person lives abroad and hasn’t fully accepted or is unable to accept the local customs and can no more celebrate even the old Indian customs the way it once was, there is a strange longing to belong. Her writing reflects that. I don’t think she is intentionally judgmental, just not very thoughtful.

    Like

  36. IHM,

    Till recently I was a silent reader of your blog but every time I came here I left with my blood boiling and my BP slightly higher than before and rightly so, because in the name of patriarchy there are thousands of us who are daily living through nothing short of hell. But this post produced mixed emotions in me to a certain extent.
    My first reaction was that is this woman real? Then I began thinking cause her reasoning or rather the lack of it brought back memories of my abusive marriage where my soon to be ex-MIL also nagged me that ‘ek chutki sindoor’ and all the paraphernalia of marriage were symbols of mutual trust and respect. ‘What mutual trust and respect’ I started asking within 2 weeks of the marriage since by then the episodes of domestic abuse had already started and my so-called husband had already started philandering whenever he could. So no, the sindoor, mangalsutra, etc are not symbols of mutual trust or respect rather signs (in my case) that the husband has complete control over the wife so that she remains loyal and chaste while he does what he likes.
    The second incident that came to my mind was that my mother, then about 48 travelling in one of the city buses complete with the sindoor, mangalsutra and toe rings (all worn out of choice) was eve teased and molested. So this idea that having the marriage paraphernalia will ward off ‘evil’ eyes is complete B.S.
    Even though we roll our eyes at such nonsense and come out against it, the reality remains that people like this populate India in hordes.

    Like

    • wanderlustryramblings //the sindoor, mangalsutra, etc are not symbols of mutual trust or respect rather signs … that the husband has complete control over the wife so that she remains loyal and chaste while he does what he likes//
      I think this is exactly what it does symbolise, because if it didn’t, then we’d see men wearing some symbols too.

      Like

  37. I am just so fedup , every day some or the other type of nonsense in name of Indian Culture / Tradition/Festival etc crops up.Matlab lop pure pagal ho chuke hain India mein , they can put their energy in something practical and useful .Matlab hadh hai..Means hamari generation ke log bhi pure bakwaas mein “fulltoo” lage hue hain.
    Culture ke naam be kuch ache kapade shapade ya makeup karna hai to thik hai warna whats the use of any of the illogical nonsenses..

    Like

  38. Is she really for real? Sindhoor as protection from rape?? Wow, now I know why I was sexually abused by my uncle,grandfather,teacher n many more men in my childhood(only 5yr old when it 1st happened) Why didnt she write this earlier and ask our Govt. to make ads as they did for polio drops n all back then? I would have worn that Sindhoor and escaped all that torture and avoided being scarred for the rest of my life!

    Like

  39. at a place she says that a woman’s beauty is incomplete without these things then at another place she says that men are lucky not having to wear any symbols..if wearing symbols is gud then why are men lucky not having to wear them..she herself is confused!

    Like

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  44. my mil “asked” me if i was going to fast on Vat Pournima. I think she was offended when for the first time in seven years of married life, I said, “no”.

    Like

  45. So am an Indian male, venturing into a womens forum –

    Let me ask you a counter question – why have any customs at all. Why have marriage, or namakaranam or gruhapravesham or anything at all. Why celebrate birthdays ? Why cant two people just walk in and live together when they want and walk out when they want. Why even name it marriage and divorce ? Its just about the two people right ?

    Why have a birth and death ceremony. Why not just dump the dead body somewhere convinient and forget about it ?

    This I me myself culture that most of you on the forum are propogating itself is hypocrisy. On one hand you want to live in a pleasant and vibrant society and on the other hand you dont want to give back to it. Marriage is itself NOT just about two people. It is about their parents, about their future children, about their community. Just like as citizens are expected to uphold certain norms and work for the betterment of the wider society, a marriage is an arrangement wherein you say that you will uphold certain order and tradition for the general wellbeing of society.

    The traditional symbols of marriage are part of that. Obviously it will not protect you against rape. But traditionally flirting / courtship (within limits) are both a fun and healthy way to get to know people and get married. Having those symbols means sending a clear signal you are not available. It is a sign of committment and it deserves every bit of respect.

    There has always been an element of exaggeration and fear put in the rituals and traditions of Hindu/Indian culture. They helped in sustaining the culture. But now that you want to question everything (except the things you do), yes, it may not guarantee long life for the husband, but it will give him some peace of mind which might extend his life🙂

    Where does this lead too, its a gradual but sure decline of the moral fabric of society. The lesser such bindings, the lower the threshold to opt out, the more misadjusted the children … its just a question of time … less community life, more I me myself, more pshycological problems … more violence … it goes on ….In general I found that children who grow up with their grandparents are better adjusted in life than children who grew up with parents to children who grew up with single parents. Everything comes at a cost, unfortunately

    What about men you say ? The traditional Hindu woman has been the backbone of India. Take time to look at her … she puts up with a lot of trouble, but she is pleasant, smiling and cheerful. Thats because she follows a lot of the customs and rituals. Take that away and we ill be heading either towards a middle-east kind of society (women dont have this choice) or a breakdown like the west (without the supporting systems in place, it will be a total mess). The customs and rituals are not without value ..

    Agree that the Indian male has been excessively pampered and somewhere that has got into his head. But the solution to that is not to make the Indian woman like him, but rather him more like her. They need to start getting into more responsible to family and society, uphold traditional customs and rituals wherever appropriate, provide the neccessary binding force for the family and yes, listen and understand his wife and balance conflicting demands.

    All this is symbolism, you say. All of life is symbolism, take that away (why have flag hoisting, for eg:) and what is left of life ? When you are purely symbolic, but dont follow it in spirit, you are a hypocrite but the symbolism is a constant reminder and put in the colour to life to make it more meaningful. Take away the symbolism and it gets even worse.

    Yes, not having a sindoor and mangalsutra is a personal choice and one needs to respect that, but one needs to respect a women wearing it a lot more (at least I do)

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  50. What crap you write and think!!!!
    A woman is a woman is a woman. She isn’t supposed to display her marital status to the world around. These days, a lot of married woman, who wear so called SUHAAG KI NISHAANI’s indulge in extra marital affairs. What about that?
    You just need to be a brilliant wife and that’s all your husband needs! Rest , there’s nothing required for a woman to flaunt that she’s married .

    Sorry to say but people like you are holding back India!! Grow up and open your mind to better things in life.

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  53. “Please grow up and widen your mental horizons”
    This is all I can say to the author.
    No woman needs these symbols.
    She is beautiful and a source of power on her own.
    Please let women live happily.
    It’s her choice.

    Like

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  55. Seriously what do u mean by her beauty is incomplete. I think beauty lies in the eyes of beholder. I find women very attractive with minimal jewellery. Why the burden on women to be decked up all the time

    Like

  56. I feel a woman removes her sindoor when she mentally feels that he is no more,and now she
    is available again for marriage.A marriage is more of an emotional relation than physical but this
    kind or women if you see their background have had several physical relations with men before marriage,which makes them less committed to one man.Here it is not the question of the body but the soul dies.The worst of people improve,maybe for a short while when they enter a religious place.
    Why I say the soul dies because when she got married she was told that this will protect you,and the wellbeing of your husband and children.In other words she becomes a muderer ,in other words
    she is a “CHANDAL:The God of destruction

    ;

    ;

    Like

  57. Quite a BS in my view. Even if some women want to stay some way then it should be their right just like men can stay however the heck they like. And not all women think about the BS of dressing like Romans when in Rome or being impressive by looking different. They just like to be comfortable and less showy. Everyone of the custom is literally imposed on women only, whether or not they believe in those custom, from wearing dupatta to cover their “assets” (because men cant help themselves from staring or groping) or wear kurtas instead of tops to hide their body shapes (because they have been made insecure of it, while growing up) or wearing symbols of “suhaag” (to show that they belong to some other guy). So, please let them decide whatever they want to wear and what not.

    Like

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