This is not going to be an easy post. But then no post of mine has been easy excepting the nonsensical ones :) On our way to Shaws to do the weekly groceries, The Mr and I argued about everything under the Sun from Hinduism to Symbolism to my lack of understanding of the Holiness of New England Patriots :)
So how important are symbols in our life? Take the beaten-to-death "Thaali/Mangalsutra sentiment" of cinema. Somehow not just in the movies but even in our lives we are ruled by the sacred thread. If I recall the old movie 'Kandhan Karunai', there is a scene where Lord Muruga explains the reason behind 'thaali' & 'metti'(toe rings) to Deivanai. The Man walks with his head held high and when he sees a woman with a 'thaali' he realises she is married and it is a sin to want her and the reason men wear 'metti' (toe-rings) is coz the women walk with their heads bowed and the first thing they see is a man's feet and they can know from the toe-ring if he is married or not. Wonderful if only the men didn't make women wear the metti too.
But when you introspect, the thaali
is nothing but a symbol of the union of man & wife in holy matrimony. Does wearing it constantly prove your loyalty to your husband? Why is a woman who doesn't wear it considered an arrogant girl with no respect for culture? So if a thaali
is to show the world a woman is married , how are the guys doing it? (The Mr claims that his forlorn face gives away the fact that he belongs to the 'hen-pecked' kind' :D)
I still can't understand the logic. I mean, when you get down to it, it is but a personal choice. Whether I choose to wear it or not. What I feel for my husband can't be and shouldn't be quantified and shut within one gold chain.
And please this has nothing to do with women's lib. Thaali is but the tip of an iceberg. In our society, we seem to have this invisible wall around us; a wall built of just stereotypes and symbols; where it doesn't matter whether you trust & love your husband as long as you wear your mangalsutra and metti(toe-rings) for all the world to see.
Or maybe it is in our psyche to dwelve on the symbol and forget the spirit? Just like the black idol in the temple . It is always easy to converse with God when he is in one of those many shapes we like to put him in - as Ganesha, Shiva, Muruga. Somehow the symbol evokes more piety than a shapeless, invisible being with life-altering powers. My form of prayer is having a conversation with The One wherever I am. Even while chopping onions. He could be in the knife at that point. But no one would call me spiritual unless I do my daily puja.
So what is the point of all this? I don't know. I don't wear my thaali while I am here coz I don't think it defines my relationship with The Mr. And he wholly agress with me. But my family back in India doesn't feel it is a good idea. And I don't blame them. And after a few discussions on the 'evils' of not wearing thaali, I just caved in. It is easier to wear it and be the quintessential Indian woman than put my family through the rigmarole of answering every raised eyebrow that claims their daughter is 'too americanised'. Sometimes I wish I were stronger but when I listen to my 80 year old Grandma complain ever so softly about her little girl not wearing anklets/metti, I somehow feel this is the least I can do to make her smile. My battle can wait.
Does that make me a hypocrite? A coward? Can't really say. Coz this isn't an easy solution and it won't happen overnight. And yeah, next time please make the thaali in a light weight, trendy style. Atleast that way it won't weigh so much on my neck. Literally.