Let there be a mark!! But what? Where? When? – The story of ‘sindoor’

I wonder how the hindu society came up with the convention to symbolise women according their relationship status. Obviously women didn’t have any role or say in it, considering their age old suppressed position in the society. So it is the men of that age who would have come up with all sorts of conventions.

*Setting: A usual mid-day, a group of men discussing random things under a banyan tree, burping after their breakfast*

Someone cracked a joke and everyone went, “haha haha haha…. That was a good one”

Stud 1: Dude! Don’t you find it difficult when you look at these kanyas(girls) in their colourful ghaghras and sarees, to tell whether they are available or not?

Stud 2: I know man. I mean I can’t decide for sure if I can maro line on her (hit on her). Like there should be some dress code or something to tell who is married and who is available to be taken.

Stud 3: Hmmm, if only everyone followed the same convention, we could hit on them without being hit by their husbands. The other day I went to the nearby borewell to check out my options and all these chicks were lined up to fill water. I was staring at one hottie, followed her for a few days, but then came to know she was married. :/

Stud 1: Damn it man! Why does it have to be so unfair.  Looks like everyone is facing this problem. Can we not do anything?

All the wise experienced elderly were sitting and grinning and thinking, “Hah! We have been through this”.

Finally the oldest one spoke:

*Oldest man, chewing pan, with hookah in hand, staring into infinity and giving ‘I know it all looks’*

“Well, yes. It has been a practical problem since a long time. And I think it’s time now that we make it easier for our younger generation to safely hit on kanyas and also be morally good. They should not face all the troubles we did or deal with all the dilemmas we had to. It’s highly unethical to lay your eyes on “paraya dhan” (someone else’s property). But that should not stop us from eyeing hot chicks. Past is past. Now it is time that we create a better society for our future studs. Let the system change.

Another elder guy (who was enjoying the second hand hookah): Guruji, what a noble thought. I think we should form a committee to decide on this matter.

“Shubh kaam me deri kaisi (why delay good work).Let’s have a quick lunch and get back here.”

A meeting was called. All the ‘uss zamane k studs’ (studs of that age) were placed at the forefront, to get their valuable insight on all the practical problems faced by them. The playboy of previous generation was made the head of the committee, with his sidekicks as the board members. Others could view and participate in their meetings without the right to vote, but their opinions and suggestions mattered a lot for the quality and nature of work that was being envisioned.

There was a lot of brainstorming, a lot of options were discussed, debated, agreed upon and disagreed in the course of coming up with a final solution.

One of the proposals was to make only married women wear sarees, and others only ghaghras. But then many eye-ballers liked to see kanyas in sarees, and they dint want to leave it to their fantasy to imagine how they would look. So it was one of the proposals to be quickly discarded.

“What about doing something with their hair? All married women should tie their hair?”

“ Naa…chicks look sexy with their hair open. Their husbands should not be deprived of this picturesque attribute.”

“Plus it’s their fundamental right to do their hair the way they want to. We don’t have the authority to make amendments in that.”

“Make them wear some anklet or something?”

The anklet bit was shunned as they would be covered with the sarees and ghaghras.  And trying to take a peak at whether a girl is wearing an anklet would land you into trouble. So NO.

What about bangle?

“Hmmm…sounds like a good idea. All married ones would wear bangles and those who are not married won’t? Or vice-versa?”

“Naaa… we should not make changes with things which are already in place. It should be a new addition to mark the difference.”

“Yes, maybe it should be on their face or something, so that everyone can see it.”

“Brilliant. Yes, it should be on their face”

But what? Where on face?

After quite a bit of silence, the science genius spoke.

“How about something red, because it scatters less and is visible from a distance.”

“And high up on the forehead, near the hairline, so that even if they wash the face, the mark doesn’t go off.”

The chairman of the committee: Excellent my boys! Excellent! This solves all the problem. And this mark will be placed during the wedding, so that there is no delay in conveying it to others that she is no longer available.

One of his sidekicks: Yes, and the husband will place that mark.

The oldest man (Placing his new paan at the far end of his cheek): Well done everyone, this is by far the fastest and the most practical decision we have taken. Kudos!. Let all this be drafted and told to everyone immediately. Tomorrow is a good day, We will have the ladies fast during the day for our long life, and in the evening when the moon comes up all the married men will put their marks on their wife’s forehead. And there will be a feast in the village.

One sceptical guy: What about those who are wives but their husbands are dead?

*The atmosphere turned very tense. Everyone looked worried. What about them? Everyone started thinking, no body dared say a word. Finally the oldest man declared.*

“Well, we should not get any colourful thoughts seeing them. It is morally wrong. They were taken once, but were left behind unfortunately. They live a life of sorrow and grief, so they should wear only dull and old clothes. And they will not have to wear the marks. This way we will know that they too are not to be checked out.”

*Everyone exchanged satisfactory looks and the murmurs started getting louder.*

The chairman announced: So the meeting is adjourned for now. We will have another sitting after the dinner, and finalise the decision.

*Dinner break. Few of them tell their ghar ki mahilas about the meeting.*

*After dinner*

“So any afterthoughts?”

“Naa….looks like this is good.”

The oldest man (with this after-dinner cigar in hand and new pan in mouth): Well then, call the publicity dude and ask him to yell and shout the new proclamation repeatedly, in every street and every house with his drum beats. And all you committee members, sign on all the paper work. We need it for our review committee from the next village.

*And thus came the new law, all married women wear ‘sindoor’ and carry your declaration all the time, unmarried  kanyas roam around bindas and flaunt your availability, and widows – be depressing and boring all your life. *

Well there were other additions to this symbolisation – mangasultra, toe rings, pallu, bindi etc., but surprisingly none for the males. Of course, there are many other things apart from this classification that the fairer section gets so unfairly, but don’t get me started on that….at least not now.

Disclaimer: This has been written with the intention of some chuckles and grins. It does not intend in any way to hurt the age old sentiments of any generation. It is NOT a true story(according to my knowledge), and is purely a work based on my wild imagination. And yes, “all characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead (or to be born), is purely coincidental.”

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