#Personal Stories

6 Sexist Punjabi Wedding Rituals We Should Change NOW!

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Getting married is often inculcated as a dream in a girl’s life. More than her professional achievements, the wedding is seen as an important milestone that women aren’t complete without. It is okay for a woman to not be financially independent. But it is not okay for her to be single after 25. 

As the society would start with the endless saga of ‘Shaadi kab karoge? Umar nikali jaa rahi hai‘, many aunties and uncles don’t fail to remind women that their biological clock is ticking. But as women become more conscious about their self-respect and standing in society, they are breaking stereotypes and emerging as individuals with strong opinions. Here’s a list of sexist Punjabi wedding rituals that every person must rethink about:

1. Choodha Chadana

This ritual consists of a havan followed by the maternal uncle and his wife gifting the bride a set of 21 bangles. These bangles are generally red and ivory in colour. They are then put in a mixture of milk and rose petals for purification and then put on the bride’s wrists by her maternal uncle. The bangles are a sign of marriage in women. While no such ornament is compulsory for men. Hmm, a marriage is a bond where both individuals stand on the same level. Then why are there compulsions for women and not men?

2. Haldi

Marriage or no marriage, hygiene comes first almost everywhere. Now think about bathing in someone else’s used water… Disgusting? Unhygienic? Well, something similar to that is in stock in the tradition of Haldi. Practiced widely across India and highly celebrated in Punjabis, Haldi is a ritual in which the bride and the groom are applied with a mix of rosewater, turmeric, sandalwood, and mustard oil on the visible skin parts by the women of the house. Now, the catch is the haldi applied to the bride is actually supposed to be the haldi removed from the groom’s body. Yep, so even though the whole idea of haldi is fun and cute, it is also unhygienic.

Sexist Punjabi wedding rituals we need to change now. What are your thoughts?

3. Sindoor Daan

A tradition common to most Indian weddings and is also included in Punjabi weddings is Sindoor Daan. After the pheras, the groom fills the forehead of the bride with vermillion. This Sindoor becomes a clear indication of marriage for a bride. I find this tradition completely sexist as no such marking is made on the groom’s body and nor is the groom expected to display this mark of marriage through out his life.

4. Kanyadaan

The biggest form of charity that a man does in his life is of his daughter, they say. Many different cultures practice the ritual of kanyadaan which is highly sexist. The whole ritual is about giving away one’s daughter as charity. Now the big question here, is the bride an object of someone’s ownership that she would be given away? A woman is her own person, an individual and getting married doesn’t indicate any change of ownership. Nor her parents or her husband own the bride in any way. Hence, this ritual is something that Punjabis and all the rest of us must rethink about. 

5. Vidaai

Every father’s weak moment is the Vidaai of his daughter. The bride leaves her parent’s home (mykaa) and walks towards the vehicle ready to go to her husband’s home. This is the usual ‘ending’ of every wedding. Why does a girl alone have to leave her house, why don’t grooms have to? Or even better why don’t both leave their homes and live together?

Today, a lot of couples decide to leave both their houses and live in nuclear families. This is one way of trying to get rid of the sexism in Vidaai. We hope the society also accepts and normalises the grooms shifting after marriage rather than calling names and defaming the ‘ghar-jamaai‘. And if there’s ‘ghar-jamaai‘ then why not ‘ghar-bahu‘ ? And why is a woman shifting homes considered normal? Everyone must question this and decide for themselves what they must do to feel comfortable. And the society must support any decision that the couple takes for themselves.

6. Changing the name

Happens everywhere and is extremely common, changing the first name and surname after getting married. This one ritual screams, SEXISM, SEXISM,  and SEXISM. The name of a person is the identity. It is something that is printed on all the official documents and changing that can be hell of a big task. Yet, there is a ritual to change the bride’s first name according to the holy rules in Indian weddings and Punjabi marriage is no different to it. But why the bride? Why not the groom? 

Many times we’ve seen, women keep their previous surname and attach the groom’s at the end. But honestly, why should there even be a so-called ‘previous’ surname? Why can’t we accept the name of the bride as it is. Her name is her identity after all. Why ask a woman to change her identity only when she is to live with a partner?

Not just Punjabi weddings but many different cultures have sexist wedding rituals. These rituals must be reviewed. We all deserve our own choices and for way too long we have had to live by the prescribed expectations of society. Let’s change that. Now.

 

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