Regressive pre-wedding rituals: Indian weddings can fun yet tedious filled with age old customs, beliefs and traditions which seek to bind the bride and the groom for the ‘next 7 births’. These rituals begin from the day the bride and the groom agree to the marriage. Barring a few, most of these rituals are dated and appear extremely regressive. Perhaps it’s time to become aware and do away with them?
5 regressive pre wedding rituals we are sick of
1. The reason for Haldi ceremony
The Haldi ceremony mainly takes place to provide the bride with “flawless skin” on the day of the wedding. Turmeric helps in removing dead skin cells and rejuvenating the skin. Therefore a paste of turmeric and a few other spices is applied on the bodies of the bride and the groom. Until this point there seems some logic. We are good with organic answers to good skin. But read this.
There are several superstitious beliefs attached to the ceremony. It is believed the ward off evils and keep the married couple blessed. Moreover, the pack is supposed to be ‘touched’ by the groom and only then it can be applied on the bride. People call it ‘inauspicious’ if this pattern is not followed. They say, the haldi is supposed to beautify the skin so she is ‘ready’ for being the groom’s girl.
In some Bengali weddings, the bride must sit below the groom’s elbow so that the turmeric water washed off from his hands trickles down on her.
Do you see how tilted this rather filmi-ceremony is? At times it’s down right unhygienic. And really who needs “beautification” before the wedding?
If you do it for fun, great. But we do hope you know the history behind this.
In this ceremony, the bride needs to sit for hours to get henna applied on her hand and feet. She is required not to step out of the house after this ceremony is done. Mehendi is mostly a private affair held in the presence of close friends and relatives. It might be fun to attend this ritual but what makes it regressive is that the bride is required the write the name of her husband in the pattern. After the completion of the wedding, the groom is asked to find his name on the bride’s hands.
This ritual is likely to signify the unending love and strong bond between the couple. But why is it only the bride who has to get the husband’s name imprinted on her hand? Is it because we still believe in pati being parmeshwar?
In Gharwa, a swarm of people including friends, relatives, neighbours and family members gather to present the would be bride with gifts and money by way of financial assistance. It started when women lacked financial stability (or were never offered the agency to have that independence) and had to depend on their husbands and in laws for money.
However, things are different now. Day by day, women are climbing up the ladder of success. Today, women are teachers, doctors, CEOs, sportspersons, astronauts and a lot more. Not only are they financially independent, they also encourage other women to manage their expenses. Can’t we support them for setting examples for the coming generations? Instead of promoting such regressive wedding rituals, let us all celebrate how women are breaking barriers and proving their capabilities in every field of work.
Popular especially among Punjabi’s brides are made to wear choora or bangles as it signifies the “newly-married” status of a bride. Previously, it was mandatory for the bride to wear a set of 21 or 51 bangles. However, now they can choose the set according to their comfort. It must be noted that it is the bride’s maternal uncle who gifts the bangles to her. Nowadays, women can remove the bangles 40 days after their wedding and get them replaced with lighter bangles after performing a prayer ceremony. Earlier, they would have to wear the bangles till their first anniversary or till they got pregnant (whichever comes first).
Do you notice how all regressive pre wedding rituals target women? What if a woman is simply doesn’t like wearing bangles? Can she say no to this ceremony? Moreover, with the bangles comes the responsibility of being a “good wife” and a “good mother”. Even before she steps into the house of her in laws, she is taught that from now on all she has to focus on is her married life and plan for a baby.
5. Manglik rituals
In many communities, marriages are decided based on horoscopes. If a woman turns out to be a manglik according to her horoscope, it is believed that her husband is bound to die after marriage. As a “solution” to the problem, she has to marry a Peepal tree or a dog before marrying the potential groom. Apparently, these absurd practices will clear her horoscope and the couple can live a happy life. Men who are manglik do not have to undergo the same fate. They can marry any woman and it won’t affect her in any way. Why is it always women who have to deal with highly regressive pre wedding rituals? Why do we love to believe that a woman’s ‘ill-fate’ can affect her partner but her partner’s luck won’t have any effect on her?
Views expressed are author’s own