Monday, December 3, 2007

I promise, I do.



“Oh no, did you hurt yourself?”
“What is that red stain if I may ask?”
“Do you mind? I have a personal question.”

I have encountered such questions innumerous number of times. These days I can see it coming a mile away. But I have never felt tired of answering them. I love to explain.


“Of course not!” I respond smiling at the ‘hesitated enquiries pointed at my forehead’.

What is she on about, you must be thinking, huh? Or have you guessed already?

Nope, I am not talking about the ‘bindi’ aka the fashionable dot or squiggly or design normally found smack between the brows that extend up to the mid-forehead, no sir! I am talking of its sibling, the elder one, as I like to consider, found further up on the hairline, usually on a parting that goes up and disappears into the thick oiled strands of hair, esp. for women with an Indian origin. Known as ‘Sindoor or Kumkum’, it has several interesting meanings. Go find them here and then here. Traditionally it means many things, but I have my own concocted ideas of every tradition that I inherited. Want to hear my take on this? Then listen, folks.

‘It means I am married” is the short answer I usually hand out. For those willing to listen, and interested in the longer version, often I am surprised at how many, this is when I switch on my speech mode.

The sindoor is a renewal of promise and commitment to my husband, a symbol of love and acceptance, a sign of belonging, also pride and respect of the relationship we share. Every time I look myself in the mirror, the ‘kumkum’ reminds me how lucky I am to have M in my life. He is not only the love of my life, the father to my child but also my strength and best friend. More than my wedding band or the Mangalsutra, the ‘kumkum’ symbolises and renews my marriage vows to M. And to me, there’s no greater promise than the one I share with M!

“ …to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward for all eternity… and beyond”


##################################
In response to the prompt from Writer's Island
##################################

29 comments:

Marja said...

Oh I never realised that. Nice to learn about it. Very touching post and you are very luckie to have a husband who is your friend.

Preethi said...

lovely post... and it is a promise indeed to love and cherish... and you can also answer "yeah i have been scarred for life!"

Preethi said...

lovely post... and it is a promise indeed to love and cherish... and you can also answer "it means i have been scarred for life!"

Whitesnake said...

Educated me yet again.
Thank you!

Herb Urban said...

How romantic. I really enjoyed this post, and learned something new about your culture. Thank you for sharing.

pepektheassassin said...

Beautiful! And I learned something new and interesting. Great job!

Rambler said...

Its always nice to reason the tradition, glad you educated all of us out here.

gautami tripathy said...

I understand that only too well...

:D

promise of a movie

"SunShine" said...

you put sindoor daily ? thats great :)
though personally I am not very fond of it still I do it sometimes on some special occassions :)

nice post and I totally understand your feelings behind the that red lined sindoor :)

d sinclair said...

yes, thanks from me too - I must admit I was a little confused as it seemed so poetic to start with that I was expecting fiction. You surprised me with that lovely bit of fact - and I mean lovely!

keith hillman said...

I love your country and visit each year. Every time I come to your blog I learn more about your culture. Thankyou

Just Jen said...

You word it so romantically! I never heard the answer put in such a romantic way before...

paisley said...

i am wondering,, if he falls from grace... do you just "forget" to paint it on?????

Robin said...

What a beautiful, romantic tradition, and with such a long history to it too. What a connection that must create, not just between you and your husband, but with all the other couples who have come before.

Brian said...

Thanks UL, I never knew that.

Brian

jadey said...

I think that this has to be one of the most sweetest promises.

Bala said...

A good post on the value and worth of the bindi and the smear at the hairline, worn so proudly by every India woman.

Prats said...

Small values trying to make itself inconspicuous in the whole journey of marraige...but traditions and promises shall see to its long life....
nice post.....

Hungry Ghost said...

It is always nice to learn something. Thank you - your response is beautiful.

Lucy said...

truly a beautiful tradition. Thanks for enlightening me Ul. I didn't know this and you are both blessed. :)

Mary Timme said...

I didn't know that either, and I think it lovely that tradition means all of that to you!

Awareness said...

i love that reminder.....and I also had no idea. beautiful post. love is all we need.

tumblewords said...

You make it so pleasant to learn! Thank you...

aka Danny Wise said...

Well said! Good information!

Charlotte Kemsley said...

I love hearing of peoples' traditions, and find your story a very beautiful expression of one:-) And it reminds me of a good friend in London, long ago, into whose (extended) family I was sort of adopted. I was always fascinated by the customs, especially when it had to do with getting married; the red sari, and the henna-painted hands; Uma and *her* 145 saris! And, of course, Mamaji's delicious cooking LOL! Thanks for that:-)

Charlotte

Rob Kistner said...

The bond of matrimony, and the promise to keep it whole, is a most powerful promise. Fine post! ;)

Lea said...

I have learned something new! It is so wonderful to share such love with another... beautiful!

Redness said...

Mmmm Your post is romantic and interesting, but frustrating too as I ponder, without offence, why do women choose to be "branded" isn't the love in a woman's heart & the gold band on her finger sufficient???

UL said...

Thank you for all your comments -


Preethi - thanks for stopping by - I dont know if I would use the word 'scarred' as to me it has negativity written all over it. I would prefer to say something along the lines of ' I belong to someone and he belongs to me - we are married' ;)


Paisley-“If he falls from grace…” is something I never asked myself and for the same reason my answer would be “I dont know”..at the moment no contingency plan for a broken promise, will take it if it ever comes, at the time.

Red - "about women getting branded"- your thoughts are perfectly understandable as I didn't go into details of the traditional custom itself in my post. And no offense taken at all, I always like inquisitive questions. Having said that here's my take -

Wedding band is a western custom that recently got adopted by Indians probably during the British rule, one that was never there in historical Indian culture. And historically there's no norm that a married woman SHOULD wear sindoor - just like - there's no rule in the Western culture that one must always wear their wedding bands if one is married. But it's something nice to follow, isnt it? - and some women practise it while many others dont follow it. Same story with Sindoor.

Now society would probably disagree to what I just said and insist upon a rule, but then societies across the world has a way of taking a long followed culture and making it a unwritten rule/law that might go along the lines of all married folks SHOULD wear wedding bands/ all married women SHOULD wear sindoor, that's bull I agree. Following a tradition at your own will and being forced to do it are two different things. Now if it is forced I can equate to 'branded' but when it is not forced and when women do it of their own free will, to show off their wedded status that's 'beautiful' in my way of thinking. Do you see where I am going with this?

Like I said I have my own twisted version of the real tradition, and to me traditions are meant to change with time...unlike promises.