No sindhur, no mangalyasutra: netizens disapprove the Guwahati High Court order

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Protest against the Guwahati High Court order that allowed divorce in favour of the husband on account of the wife not wearing sindhur has invited a trail of protests in the social media.
The Guwahati court observed that the refusal to wear shaka (conch shell bangle) and sindoor (vermillion) as per customs by a Hindu married woman amounted to her refusal to accept the marriage. The Gauhati High Court has granted divorce to the man.
After hearing a matrimonial appeal filed by the husband, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Ajai Lamba and Justice Soumitra Saikia set aside an order of the family court which rejected his prayer for divorce on the ground that no cruelty was found committed on her by her husband.

“Her refusal to wear sakha and sindoor will project her to be unmarried and/or signify her refusal to accept the marriage with the appellant (husband). Such a categorical stand of the respondent (wife) points to the clear intention of the respondent that she is unwilling to continue her conjugal life with the appellant,” the high court said in the judgment passed on June 19.

The man and the woman had married on February 17, 2012, but they started fighting soon as she started demanding not to live along with his family members. As a consequence, the two have been living separately since June 30, 2013.
“She had lodged a police complaint against her husband and his family members accusing them of torturing her, but the allegation of subjecting her to cruelty was not sustained,” the bench said.

“Such acts of lodging criminal cases on unsubstantiated allegations against the husband and/or the husband”s family members amounts to cruelty as held by the Supreme Court,” they said in the order.

“The family court completely ignored the fact that the woman compelled and prevented her husband from performing his statutory duties towards his aged mother under the provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007,” the judges said. “Such evidence is sufficient to be construed as an act of cruelty,” the order added.

Social media users are sharing photos that show them without sindoor, mangalsutra, and other traditional symbols of marriage. The flood of posts shared with the hashtag #WithoutSymbolsOfMarriage comes after the Guwahati High Court recently granted divorce to a man, ruling that his wife’s refusal to wear shakha and sindoor amounted to her refusal to accept the marriage.

Several women have shared selfies and throwback pictures from their wedding day that show them without sindoor, mangalsutra, bangles or bindis – all things that married Hindu women wear per custom.
“Bangles, sindoor, bindi and mangalsutra are not the only markers of marriage. We are beautiful and married without all this as well, Honorable High Court,” wrote one Twitter user.

In contradiction to this verdict, a Nagpur court had dismissed the sindhur and mangalya sutra as validation of wedding in 2017. A Division Bench comprising of BP Dharmadhikari and Swapna Joshi held that simply performing two rites, that of sindoor and mangalsutra, does not make a marriage valid. The Court passed this order against an order of the Family Court, Nagpur which had allowed the petition filed by respondent woman in her mid thirties seeking restoration of conjugal rights. The respondent woman was earlier married to another man and later divorced, though she continued to stay with him in the interest of her two children. Later she met the appellant and fell in love with him. The appellant ‘married’ her by putting mangalsutra and applying vermilion on her forehead before the idol of Lord Krishna. The ruling was issued on on February 16, 2017.

“Wearing vermillion, bangles or bindi is my choice,” another social media post asserted. “How does wearing or not wearing these amount to cruelty?”

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