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14 Common But Sexist Wedding Traditions In India

It is believed that marriages are made in heaven. Once you are married, the connection is supposed to last for seven lifetimes.Indian weddings are known for being amazingly exceptional and remarkable. Its customs and traditions vary based on the region of origin. These weddings are brought to life by rich colors, festivities, and practices that have existed for hundreds of years. On one hand, where marriage is called a sacred relationship between the couple in which ideally both the man and the woman promise to respect and support each other for life, then again, the majority of these customs are sexist. Yes! While some of the wedding customs are delightful and significant, some are just stereotype. Here are some such traditions which though are very important but are truly one-sided. C'mon, let's have a look at some such traditions.

#1 Kanyadaan

The most crucial tradition in Indian weddings is Kanyadaan. But do you know that if we split the term Kanya and Daan, it means the 'gift of virginity' or 'gifting a maiden'. It states that now the 'duty' of our daughter is handed over to the groom. 

Kanyadaan ritual is related to the custom in which the eldest son lights the funeral pyre of his parents.

He performs this to discharge them from their sins. Thus, Kanyadaan is a tradition to honor the man for discharging parents from their sins by giving them the daughter as giving the daughter away is said to be one of the highest honours to absolve the sins of parents. Plus, it is always the term 'Kanya' daan, nor 'Stree' daan, as it is believed that only 'virgins' can help discharging parents from their sins. 

#2 Kashiyatra

There is a tradition in South India called Kashiyatra in which the groom refuses to marry the bride. He carries an umbrella, a walking stick and a towel containing dal and rice. Then the bride's father stops him and pleads him by promising his daughter to him and that she will aid him through ups and downs of life. The groom then returns to the wedding, and the wedding continues. This is supposed to be a fun element, but why only the groom is asked to follow Kashiyatra? Why can't a woman decide to leave the marriage and the groom's family could plead her not to leave the groom?

#3 Bride parents wash the feet of the groom.

Another common tradition of the Indian wedding is when bride's parents wash the feet of the groom. Though in modern weddings, they don't entertain such customs, in some weddings even the family members get their feet washed by the bride's parents. Earlier, this tradition was practiced because men used to travel barefoot from village to village for work. But what is its significance now?

#4 Haldi for the bride

Indian wedding's most beautiful tradition is when Haldi is applied to the groom and bride to cleanse their body. But in various cultures, the same haldi paste which was applied to groom's body is then used to cleanse the body of the bride.Ok, we will discuss the sexism here later, but what about hygiene?

#5 Bride sits under the groom's elbow.

In Bengali weddings, the bride is asked to sit under the elbow of the groom as the water passes from his elbow on to her. 

#6 Only the father is allowed to give away the daughter.

During Kanyadaan, it is only the right of the bride's father to give away the daughter. If the father is not present, another male relative is asked to perform the ritual. Why are mothers not in the picture?

#7 Bride has to change her first name as well.

Is the bride supposed to change her overall identity after the marriage? Firstly, she has to change her first name and keep it on the basis of a combination of her and her husband's astrological chart. Then she has to change her middle name from his father's to his husband's. Lastly, she alters her last name to his husband's surname. This is like changing the whole identity, right?

#8 Mangalik women are asked to marry a peepal tree or a dog.

According to Hinduism, if a woman is Mangalik this means she carries a curse of an early death of her first husband. Hence, she is asked to marry a peepal tree or a dog to remove the evil effects of the curse from her human husband.  

#9 Pot balancing custom.

There is an unusual tradition in Bihar in which when the bride enters the groom's house, her mother-in-law places a pot on her head. She is then supposed to touch the feet of the elders and do the other chores with the pot on. After every passing 5 minutes another pot is added to her head. This is a test of her skills to maintain balance in the family. 

#10 Food only for the males.

According to the weddings in Rabha culture, Asaam, the bride is asked to cook a complete meal on her first day. While the most common tradition is that the bride is just asked to prepare sweets on her first day. The strange part of this Assam's culture is that the food is just served to the male members of the family. The female members are served the food prepared by the cooks or the helpers. Even the bride is not allowed to taste the food she has prepared. 

#11 For Hindus, the groom's mother traditionally does not attend the wedding.

In Bengali weddings, the groom's mother is not allowed to attend the wedding or some parts of the wedding. It's believed that her presence can bring harm to his son's wedding.  

#12 Though Dowry is illegal, bride's family is expected to give gifts.

Dowry is now illegal but still, bride’s family is expected to gift apartments, cars, expensive jewellery to the groom and his family.

#13 Bou Bhaat 

Another Bengali wedding tradition is Bou Bhaat (meaning bride food), which asks the bride to serve food to the guests and her new husband and then eat the leftovers from his plate. 

#14 The jewellery worn by women is a sign of her marriage.

In India, a married woman is expected to wear a Mangalsutra, wear bangles as a sign of marriage and some traditions also have the bride sporting toe-rings. The problem is not with these ornaments, but with the belief that these things represent that a woman is married.Though the society is modern now, most of these traditions are still followed. I guess, you agree with me on the part that majority of them are one-sided. That's all, folks.If you have something unusual to share, do write to me at guneet@wittyfeed.com