#GirlTalk is SheThePeople’s advice column. Have a question? Send it to us girltalk@shethepeople.tv – It can be anonymous if you’d like it that way. Women from different walks of life share advice and their personal experience to help you overcome your own. Today’s question is answered by Yamini Pustake Bhalerao.

Dear Girl Talk

It’s not something I really like to do so I decided to ask myself. Why is it important to wear mangalsutra after marriage? Will it be a big deal for my future husband and his mom? Actually his entire family? As a woman I don’t like symbols. What should I do?

Getting Married = Mangalsutra

Dear Getting Married = Mangalsutra

Wearing a mangalsutra after marriage means different things to different women. Some wear it because it is mandatory to do so in their families, while others wear it as a symbol of love and dedication towards their husbands. A mangalsutra can just be an ornament, an unwanted piece of jewellery that you wear to avoid being looked down upon by the society, or a sacred thread that you wear as a mark of being a married woman. It all depends on your perspective. The question that women should have the agency to ask in our society ideally is, ‘Do I want to wear a mangalsutra or not? Does it mean anything to me on a personal level, or am I wearing it purely to obey cultural norms?’

Till a few years ago I used to mangalsutra all the time. Neither did it bother me to wear one, not did I find it awkward to not wear it. It was there, around my neck, so I wore it. But one day, just like that I realised that I wasn’t very fond of the ornament and that my relationship with my husband wouldn’t be affected if I stopped wearing it. Besides, it wasn’t as if I wanted to stop wearing it because I didn’t love him anymore. I told him frankly that I didn’t like wearing a mangalsutra and he simply shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘To nikal do na,’ and that was it.

The only thing I was worried about was reaction of my mother-in-law (who was equally cool with my decision) and other women around me. I think this is why wearing mangalsutra is important to a lot of women, apart from it being a cultural norm- it helps you fit in better. Women in your social circle are more accepting of you, especially if you live in an orthodox set-up.

To wear a mangalsutra or not should be a matter of choice for every woman. If it means something to you and is a crucial part of your identity, then you should wear it with pride, irrespective of what other people have to say about it. Similarly, if wearing a mangalsutra means nothing to you, or if you perceive it as a regressive norm that simply reduces a woman to her marital identity, then you should not have to wear it out of peer or social pressure. The word that is crucial here is choice; the whys and hows of it can surely fit themselves around it.

Yamini.


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