Manusmriti 5.148. In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, when her lord is dead to her sons; a woman must never be independent.
Manusmrti (9:2-4) – Men must make their women dependent day and night, and keep under their own control those who are attached to sensory objects. A woman is not fit for independence.
Rig Veda (8.33.33-34) – The mind of woman cannot be disciplined; she has very little intelligence.
#1. In Tamil brahmin weddings, there is a custom where the groom pretends that he is going to Kasi to complete his spiritual journey. The bride’s father pleads the groom not to leave the bride and states the difference between the marital life and ascetic one. Source
#2. In Maharashtrian weddings, the bride’s parents wash the groom’s feet, but make the bride herself wash his feet first. Source
#3. In Bengali marriages, the haldi (turmeric paste) the groom’s family uses for the bride, is the same paste used by the groom or a paste that has touched the groom’s body.
#4. In many parts of north and west India, the bride is supposed to change her first, as well as her last name post marriage. Source
#5. If the bride is manglik, she needs to marry apeepal tree, pot or a dog first. People believe that marrying a manglik woman results in the early death of the husband, but there is no such custom for the groom if he is manglik. Source
#6. In Bihari weddings, once the bride enters the groom’s house, the mother-in-law places a pot on her head and she continues to touch the feet of the elders and do other chores with the pot on. However, after every 5 minutes, they add one pot to her head. The bride should be careful enough not to let the pots fall off and must carry on with the ritual. Source
#7. In Rabha weddings in Assam, the bride has to to cook food from the very first day and the food is only for the male members of the family. For women, cooks or the helpers in the house prepare food separately. Source
#8. Newly wed brides are expected to wear jewellery like mangalsutra, bangles (a lot of them), toe rings, etc. for a long time. This is present across many cultures. Many times, the amount of jewellery that they wear can be a hindrance. Example: in north-Indian weddings the bride wears a set of heavy bangles called chooda. Many of the bangles in this set are made of ivory, which is very heavy. Source
#9. In Maharashtrian weddings, the bride and the groom’s mother are not present during the mangalshtaka, custom of reciting verses. However, the father of both the bride and the groom are present. Similar is the case in Bengali weddings, but only the bride’s mother is not present. Source
#10. In some Bengali weddings, the bride is made to sit under the elbow of the groom and water is then passed from his elbow on to her. Source
#11. Kanyadaan, literally means giving the daughter away as charity. According to the old Hindu traditions, it means ‘the gift of virginity’. Not only does it emphasise on giving the daughter away as charity, but it is done only by the bride’s father. If the father is not present, then the responsibility goes to any male member of the family. It is never done by the mother. Source
#12. Another Bengali wedding tradition is bou bhaat (meaning bride food), which includes her serving food to guests and her new husband, and then eating the leftovers from his plate. Source
#13. The bride’s family funds the entire wedding. This is present in almost every wedding in the country. The cost incurred is usually humongous. However, today there is a ray of hope, where both the bride’s and the groom’s family split the expenses. Source
#14. Even though dowry is illegal in India, in many cultures the bride’s family is forced to gift apartments, cars, expensive jewellery, etc. to the groom and his family.
10 Sexist Indian Marriage Customs
A tradition in all Indian weddings without which the wedding is incomplete. The very name Kanyadaan is made up of 2 words: Kanya and Daan. While if taken literally, it means giving the daughter away, according to old Hindu traditions, it means the “gift of virginity” or “gifting a maiden”. Yeah, well. It is an age-old tradition and there are many reasons as to why it was brought into existence. One of the most popular ones is that the scriptures stipulated that the eldest son or the ‘son’ of the family was supposed to light the funeral pyre of his parents to absolve them of sins and pass on happily into the afterlife. The patriarchal Hindu society began to thus revere boys and condemn daughters. To salvage the situation, Hindu priests then created the concept of Kanyadaan wherein they said that giving the daughter away was one of the highest honours as it too absolves the parents of sin. After the ritual, the “duty” of the daughter is passed on from the parents to the groom and she is now his liability. Also, it is always a ‘kanya‘ daan and not a ‘stree‘ daan which implied that only virgins were allowed to have the honour of absolving the sins of their parents. While it might have been sensible in ancient times, the treatment of women as property is incorrect in every way. Some traditions are better left buried with time and the tradition of Kanyadaan is one such. Just because the daughter marries off, it does not mean she now has no ties with her family. She has lived in the womb of a woman for 9 months. No ritual on Earth can ever break that bond. Another problem with Kanyadaan is that it is only the father who is allowed to give away the daughter. If the father is absent, another male relative has the honour. The mother is not in the picture at all. If not the tradition itself, even the steps associated with the ritual are chauvinist.
A popular tradition in South India, Kashi Yatra is today treated as more of a fun event. And yet, it is an inseparable part of Tamil weddings. According to the ritual, the groom gets up from the wedding and refuses to marry the bride, saying he wants to give up worldly pleasures and complete his religious studies. He carries an umbrella, a walking stick and a towel containing lentils (dal) and rice. As he commences this mock pilgrimage, the bride’s father stops him and pleads with them. He then tells the groom the benefits of married life versus ascetic life. He promises his daughter to him and that she will aid him through the ups and downs of life. The groom then returns to the wedding and the wedding continues. Seems innocent and fun. But then, the question arises in the modern world, why is only the groom allowed to embark on a Kashiyatra? Why can’t the bride want to study further and decide to get up and leave the marriage hall with her mother-in-law tagging behind her, begging her not to leave the groom? Why is it treated as ambitious only for the groom. In modern days, the bride’s life will definitely not end if the groom decides to get up and leave. Rather, she might just decide to move on in life and get much ahead of the groom in education and career.
3. Feet Washing
This is a very common tradition across different cultures in India. While some have the tradition where the bride’s parents wash the groom’s feet, others make the bride herself wash his feet. While in earlier days, the tradition made some sense as grooms generally walked barefoot from one village to another for the wedding, in modern days with cars replacing feet and even horses, this tradition is outdated. In Assamese tradition, it is the bride’s sister who washes the groom’s feet. It only seems insulting to get two adults, as old as the groom’s own parents and deserving the same amount of respect, to wash the feet of the groom. Neither is the groom forced to walk barefoot anymore nor does he have to travel long distances. Offering water or refreshing beverages makes sense but making the parents wash his feet is just plain humiliating.
4. Haldi for the bride
The tradition of haldi is a beautiful one where a paste of turmeric and other spices is applied on the bodies of the bride and the groom by relatives and friends to cleanse their skin and help them grow. The entire tradition is fun and a time of great bonding for the bride with her family. It also cherishes some of her last moments with her family as an unmarried woman. However, in certain regions, the bridal haldi ceremony can get weird. In Bengali tradition for the pre-wedding haldi, the turmeric paste carried by the groom’s family for the bride is the same paste used by the groom or a paste that has touched the groom’s body. Leaving the sexist aspect aside, we really wonder how hygienic this tradition is. While it is not practised in many urban areas or among literate people (the groom just touches the haldi with his hand before it is sent to the bride), the custom is followed in rural areas. In some Bengali traditions, the bride is made to sit under the elbow of the groom and water is then passed from his elbow on to her. While this tradition is not exactly the haldi tradition and happens after the wedding, turmeric paste is often applied to both to ward off the evil eye.
5. Name change – first name
This is a tradition peculiar to North India and parts of the West where the bride changes her first name as well as her last name post marriage. The new first name is calculated on her and her husband’s combined astrological chart and the last name is the same as her husband’s last name. Also, the bride alters her middle name from that of her father’s name to her husband’s name. The practice is common not just in rural areas but even in urban areas. While a lot of women now retain their last names and add their husband’s surname too, the tradition of making the bride change her first name is wrong. A name is quite a person’s identity and making them change it is akin to stripping the complete identity away.
6. Marrying a peepul tree/dog.
In a crazy Indian wedding custom, if the bride is Manglik, she is made to first marry a Peepal tree or a dog. It is believed that marrying a Manglik woman results in the early death of the husband. Hence, the woman is first married to a tree or an animal to ward off the evil effects of the curse on her human husband. The husband has no such traditions to fulfill if he is Manglik. A simple religious ceremony resolves the issue. Most Indians believe in astrology and all Hindu rituals are based on astrological charts. Even the wedding is held on an auspicious day according to the positions of the stars. However, while it is acceptable to believe in parts of astrology, such traditions are plain “stupidstition” and blind faith. It insults the woman and are demeaning to say the least
7. Pot Balancing
In a strange custom in Bihar, once the bride enters the groom’s house, the mother-in-law places a pot on her head. She then continues to touch the feet of the elders and do other chores with the pot on. After every 5 minutes, another pot is added to her head. The bride must not let the pots fall off and must carry on with the rituals with all the pots perfectly balanced. This ritual is supposed to help the bride achieve the perfect balance and harmony between her duties and her family members as a wife. While played in fun in recent years, during the earlier days, if the bride couldn’t balance the pots, she faced much ridicule and wrath from her in-laws. All this, just after she sets foot in the house!
8. Mother banned from the wedding.
As strange as it sounds, in Bengali weddings, the bride’s mother is not allowed to see the wedding. It is believed that the mother witnessing the wedding will bring harm on her daughter. Or the mother possesses the evil eye to harm her daughter’s marriage. We have nothing to say on just how wrong and terrible this tradition seems!
9. Food only for the males.
In Rabha weddings in Assam, the bride is expected to cook a complete luncheon on her first day. While in most other religions, the bride is expected to only cook sweets on the first day and then rest till her ‘mehendi‘ wears off, this tribe makes the bride work right from day one. While cooking a meal is considered one of the duties of a new bride and is not surprising, what is is the fact that the meal cannot be eaten by all family members. The meal cooked by the bride is only for the male members of the family. For the womenfolk, food is prepared separately by the cooks or the helpers in the house. A pretty sexist tradition where the bride herself is not allowed to sample the feast she is expected to cook on day one of entering the house!
10. Mangalsutra and bangles.
While western countries have the wedding band to signify marriage, in India the bride is expected to wear a Mangalsutra (in Western and Northern regions) or Thaali (in South India) post marriage. In most traditions, the brides are expected to wear bangles as a sign of marriage. Some traditions also have the bride sporting toe-rings. Each of these ornaments are to be worn and never removed. However, the groom is not made to sport any rings or bracelets or chains. He continues life as usual. The wearing of ornaments is not considered a burden by most women but the unfairness in making a woman sport these as signs of her marriage, unlike men, is galling. Ref
Sexism is that evil weed that can sadly grow even in the well tended garden of the individual with an otherwise developed mind. Which is why it particularly needs to be attacked and exposed; and is why I support feminism.
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