I can never understand the reason behind the notorious display of jewelry on an Indian woman's body, after she gets wedded. Recently our next door neighbour got married, and she came home for the "pagg fera" looking like a human mannequin endorsing jewellery of all kinds. I mean one look at her, and you can spot everything from plastic bangles in red and white, which is called " chooda" to the vermilion, nose pin, toe rings, anklets and the black beaded noose "mangalsutra". This is a common sighting in much of India where the ornaments more or less differ. In the northern parts of India especially in Delhi, it is the chooda that you can spot, while in south India it will be an over-sized thali with a leaf shaped locket hanging from a gold chain. In places like Mumbai, the women never forget the toe rings.
In most parts of India, the vermilion or sindoor is common, while everything else gets a special place on a woman's body as if it was a mannequin made of flesh and bones. It is amusing that even in today's times all these visible ornaments of marriage are forced upon a woman's body after marriage, to remind her of the privileges that a marriage and the presence of a man have bestowed on her.
While nowhere in India, do the men adorn themselves with any of these symbolic ornaments, telling us of the notorious patriarchal norms that Indian marriages have been delving into. What amuses me is that amidst the "hue and cry" of gender equality, these kind of rigorous medieval customs are still a reality in India, and especially amidst educated well-read Indians. Surprisingly, most of these ornaments are a prideful possession for many women, who refuse to part from them. Most women are socially conditioned to wear them, so that their husbands have long, happy and healthy lives while they walk around looking like gaudy human bodies owned by patriarchal religious customs.
When I was in Mumbai, I also took note of the practice of wearing a "hijab" or "black burqa". I went bonkers one day, when I saw a very young girl, barely two or three years old wearing a black hijab. I wonder how could her tiny body attract the male gaze or sexually excite a man? I mean, that is why "hijab" or "burqa" is worn, as per the Islamic customs, to ward off any sexually predating male attention.
The mores of patriarchy are amusingly atrocious which have turned a woman's body into a mannequin of symbols, wedding jewellery in case of hindu women and burqa or hijab, in case of muslim women.
Patriarchy fails me everyday, and when I see patriarchal male-dominated symbolism of this kind, weighing down on a woman's body, I realize that the concept of gender equality will takes ages to make a leeway into this nation. Where women's bodies are still imprisoned in symbols. Again, some people say, that a choice can be made in this case. If that is so, then why aren't men given a choice to become a symbolic representation of marriage?