Updated: Nov 9, 2020
Indian married Hindu women wear Sakha (Bangles made of conch-shell), Sindoor, Mangalsutra, anklets and Bangles as a custom. The most significant of these practises is wearing vermilion or sindoor by a married Hindu woman on her forehead. This is considered by most of women as a sign of well being of her husband, If a married Hindu woman does not wear Sindoor, she is looked down upon by the society for not following the ancient Hindu rituals and customs. These practises are norms and are considered as an integral duty of the Hindu married women and hence is not a choice .
The Recent Gauhati High Court’s Judgement in this Matter
There was a recent order given by the Gauhati High Court in the case of Sri Bhaskar Das vs. Smti Renu Daswhich was given on 19 th June ,2020 by Chief Justice Ajai Lamba and Justice Soumitra Saikia .In this case the appeal was filed by the appellant husband who was aggrieved by the order given by the Family court who dismissed the divorce petition. In the present case the wife denied to accept the marriage and also refused to wear Sakha and Sindoorand thus projected herself to be unmarried. This shows the unwillingness of the women to accept the marriage. This will result in harassment to the husband appellant and also to his family members. The act of not wearing Sakha and Sindoor also shows the intention of the respondentas to not continue her conjugal life with the appellant husband. Thus, the court rejected the order given by the trial court and allowed the husband to divorce his wife.
There are various judgements given by various courts who have stated that putting sindoor cannot be considered as a proof for marriage. It is mere a custom that is followed by most of the Indian Women. Under Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955the essentials of Hindu Marriage has been stated which are monogamy , condition of mental health , marriageable age ,avoidance of degree of prohibited relationship and also avoidance of sapinda relationship .So ,we can see that there is no such provision mentioned under the Hindu Marriage Act which talks about the provision of Sindoor under the Hindu marriage act and hence the courts in India have refused to consider marriage as a valid marriage where only putting Sindoor was an ingredient for marriage.
In the case of State versus Ajay Singh S/o Shri .Rameshwarthe accused tied mangalsutra and also placed a Sindoor on her forehead and established sexual relations with her .The court refused to consider this marriage as a valid marriage and , held the accused liable to be convicted for the offence punishable under Section 376IPC that is the offense of committing rape. The accused misrepresented the victim that he has married her by putting 'Sindoor' in her 'Maang' and tying 'Mangalsutra' around her neck.
In the case of State vs Aniraj @ Gudduin this case also the accused made sexual relations by filing her maang with Sindoor and tying Mangalsutra. But the court refused to consider this marriage as a valid marriage. But the sexual relations were made with the consent of the victim hence he cannot be convicted with the offense of rape and hence was acquitted.
A feminist critique of the judgment
A married Hindu woman is supposed to wear bangles, Mangalsutra , Sindoor and many more accessories defined by customs, traditions of the different community to mark in the society that the girl is married. This custom should be made a choice rather than a thing which is enforced or imposed on the married women. There are also no provisions mentioned under any law in India where wearing sindoor was considered as proof for marriage. When a judgement which says that it is in the custom of Hinduism to wear Sakhs and Sindoor and the one who does not follow this does not consider herself as a married woman that it is against the right to equality of a women and hence should be considered as an unfair decision.
Being married in India is not enough and the women has to look married. If there is a refusal from a woman to do so that she is portrayed as a rebel to Indian customs and culture because it is the women who are considered as the custodian of culture and family traditions .. They are also judged and also looked down upon by the society. A women’s dressing style cannot be considered as a parameter for showing her relationship with her spouse of the other family members. If there is mutual respect and love between the spouses then even symbols of marriage like Sindoor and Sakha can protect such a marriage.