The questionable existence of The Sindoor (Vermilion):

dsc_1865#To be or not to be

I had once read in a popular Bengali magazine that during the period of early men, the male used to abduct women from their homes and treated them as their property. To claim ownership over women, they used their tools to strike them so hard that their forehead used to bleed. The red blood forms the forehead of women later became the counterpart of the Sindoor. In the very same concept, the shackles with which women were imprisoned became the counterparts of conch shell bangles or in some case mangal sutra. Legends recall Shiva as the first male who got married: he filled Sati’s hairline with Sindoor to declare that he is making her his equal with respect and she would live with dignity.

Ever since women are wearing Sindoor. Shiva had popularized wearing Sindoor to grant women the respect they deserve, today, quite adversely that very Sindoor have become a symbol of oppression. And its existence is questionable.

Why I say so?

Well, many women feel that Sindoor questions their identity, it makes them feel dependent on their male counterparts.They feel being forced to apply Sindoor due to social pressure, and even in foreign countries, women with Sindoor are thought to be doing so under pressure/force. A popular thread in quora mentions that Indian women “hate” applying Sindoor but nevertheless are forced to do so.

 Ever since the society has been justifying applying of Sindoor while a free thinking woman raises questions about it:                                                                  

It highlights love and dedication towards the husband

What highlights my husband’s love towards me? He does not wear Sindoor, does that mean he loves me less?

                                                                                         OR

Shall I show my love for an abusive husband, who treats me like his property and the auspicious Sindoor as a trademark?

Applying Sindoor is a privilege

Yes, the society does not permit a widow to apply sindoor, does it mean she doesn’t love her husband anymore.

Sindoor protects from evil eyes of other men

Yes, that is why after marriage we jump from the status of being a girl to sister-in-law (boudi), although the fellow has never been introduced to my husband let alone be his foster brother. Sindoor might stop his actions but not his colorful fantasies.

All the above logics would be sidelined as thoughts of ultra-modern women. But can anyone guarantee that such thoughts have never passed through the head of a free thinking woman?  I do not opt for the word “modern” because I believe, Sindoor doesn’t make a woman traditional or modern. Should every woman who wear Sindoor be typecasted for being backward? If pressurizing to wear Sindoor is oppression, then is it okay to force one from applying it? What makes us modern is acceptance, accepting that Sindoor is a choice and no woman should be pressurized to apply/not apply it, because:

Sindoor doesn’t define my love: my care does

Sindoor doesn’t show my respect: my attitude does

Sindoor doesn’t make me traditional: my ethics does

Sindoor wouldn’t protect me: open-mindedness of society would ensure my security.

Sindoor for me can be a symbol of rejoicing my new life or a cosmetic or nothing at all. Sindoor is my choice

Share the article if you believe Sindoor is a choice, not a symbol of oppression, and please feel free to share your opinions in the comment section below.

Thank you for reading,

-M@dhu

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