It started with my engagement ring. It is a classic and subtle design that I had chosen myself and I was really, really looking forward to wearing it all the time. I just loved having that one little gleaming stone on my ring finger. It was perfect.
But the day I got married, I realised that marriage comes with more than just emotional baggage. Let me list it for you - chura or other bangles, mangalsutra, sindoor, toe rings, earrings - they are all part of the baggage that you are ‘supposed’ to carry with you as a married women. And the best part is, the man, who too is now married is free from all this! It’s just the engagement band for them, which they may or may not choose to wear.
On my first day as a nayi naveli dulhan, my mother-in-law came into my room and asked me to put on a generous amount of sindoor. This was followed by the mangalsutra and, as is in their custom, it was essential for me to wear toe rings to prove to the world that I am now married. Wonder why we went through those long, tiring ceremonies and rituals if sporting some bling-y accessories is all that defines my marital status! In fact, even the younger ladies of the family were shocked when I refused to wear a bindi for my reception. Like really, I had a gown on!
Mine was a winter wedding and the toe rings made it really hard to walk in closed shoes. A lot of my socks tore thanks to these! I tried to make my MIL understand but all the women in their family wore these and I being the bahu had no other choice. She even got me little gold drops for the ears. “Tumhare kaan kabhi bhi sune nahi rehne chahiye,”she said. The fact that they made my ears bleed (I have very sensitive skin) did not matter. “Yeh suhaag ki nishaani hoti hai”was her another argument. But she forgot that her son too is married. Did he wear any of these things? What was the nishaani that he sported? He even removed his engagement ring because which guy wears gold, he said!
It’s amazing how even in this age and day, in-laws feel it is important for their bahus to wear all this. Even after I removed my chura, I was constantly asked to wear coloured glass bangles. Why should my dressing style change after marriage? Why can’t my clothes and jewellery be my own personal choice and not something that is forced upon me. It angered my husband too to see the women of his family make objections over such petty things. And living in a joint family I knew I had to address this issue straight away or I'd end up being an unhappy person which would even affect my relationship with my husband.
For me, it was never about rebelling against the family or their traditions. It was only about the fact that certain things are a matter of personal choice and cannot be forced. I have nothing against women who wear a mangalsutra or always have red nail paint on. Yes, that too is a thing! I hate any colour on my nails but according to my MIL, her mother in law would’ve made a huge deal if she ever saw her nails devoid of any colour! So yes, I am not against women who do wear these things. It’s a personal choice. Personally, I can’t stand jewellery for a very long time. It irritates my skin. But someone else may love wearing jewellery and may even take pride in sporting the so-called essentials of a married women. And it’s fine! My only point is, you shouldn’t force these on women and, moreover, you shouldn’t propagate these baseless suhaag ki nishaani stories about them. It’s more important to love and care for your partner than indulge in materialistic things to prove your commitment towards each other.
It’s been around 3 years since my wedding and after a lot of explanations and discussions, I’ve been able to be free myself of these accessories. I even share a great relationship with my mother-in-law but time and again she makes it a point to mention how it’s wrong of me to not put on sindoor. My husband though, well, he still roams about just the way he did when I first met him - no questions asked!