Sindoor Khela, the celebration of patriarchy

Married Bengali Hindu women celebrated their sindoor or vermilion yesterday. They do it every year. On the last day of Durga puja, women apply sindoor on the goddess’s feet or forehead and then start applying it to all the married women around, smearing each other with it.

Unmarried women or widows are not allowed to celebrate Sindoor Khela.

The main purpose of a married woman to celebrate Sindoor Khela is to be proud of having a husband no matter how pathetic, and worthless stupid he is and to wish a long happy life of the husband.

Married women wear sindoor along the parting-line of their hair. It is one of the many signs of marriage they have to wear.

Hindu widows do not wear sindoor, because their husbands are not alive.

The sindoor gives some kind of social importance to women, only because their husbands are alive. Women are blamed if their husbands die. After husbands die, women are not allowed to wear sindoor or colourful clothes. Their clothes must be white, or colourless, and they must remove all the colours from their bodies, all the happinesses from their minds, all the smiles from their faces, and they must stop eating good nutritious food, fish or meat or protein, and they must look ugly and unattractive and they must die slowly.

A widow is just a nobody or a dead body or a piece of shit. It is not necessary for widows to continue living when they are not able to serve their husbands for which they were born. Once upon a time widows were thrown into husband’s funeral pyres.

Married men do not wear anything to prove that they are married. In patriarchal traditions, men’s lives are more important than women’s lives, and women are treated as nothing but sex objects, inferior beings, child bearing machines, slaves of men. Believe it or not, instead of being rejected, Sindoor Khela the patriarchal festival is becoming popular in urban educated societies. It is very alarming that in some parts of the world, the more educated women become, the more patriarchal traditions they celebrate. Is it because educated ones can learn all kinds of systems including misogynistic much better than uneducated ones?








  1. Amitava Ghosh says

    সি”দুর খেলার ছবি সুন্দর ভাবে ফুটিয়ে তুলেছ।যুগ যুগ ধরে মেয়েদের অবদমিত করে রাখার যে প্রচেষ্টা,দূর্গা বরনের সময় তার ব্যাতিক্রম হয় না।অবিবাহিত,বিধবা মহিলারা এই অনুষ্ঠানে অংশ গ্রহন করতে পারে না।
    মাতৃ আরাধনায় পা”চদিন চলে যায়।মাতৃ জাতীর দুঃখ,দুর্দশা মোচনের কোন উপায় এই দিন গুলতে বের হয় না।উতসব উদ্দিপনার মধ্যেও নারীকে পরাধীন করে রাখার কি অপরিসীম শিল্প পুরুষ তান্ত্রিক সমাজে চালু আছে তা প্রত্যেক উতসব,অনুষ্ঠানে বারে বারে প্রমাণিত হয়।

  2. Humanbeing20903 says

    Most religions are biased against women. The reason for it is that the rule religions impose are very much outdated; male protection might have been needed when the there were no laws.
    – – –
    Some movies I like criticizing some Hinduistic beliefs. 1 ‘Water’. The reaction from religious thugs when that movie was made and released were despicable. They prevented the movie being made halfway through and they vandalized the movie theater when it was produced. The movie was completed in Sri Lanka. 2 ‘Maya’. This movie was shot in India but it is still banned from showing in India. 3. ‘Sita Sings The Blues’. An open-minded look at ‘Ramayan’. 4. ‘Kanchana Sita’. From 1970s. Saw this movie at the Washington Film Institute of the Kennady Center in Washington, DC. 10% into the movie 90% of the Indians walked out of the movie theater. It was about the story in Ramayan where Ram ask Sita to jump into a fire and come back alive. She perishes and Ram takes a tiny piece of gold and says it is his wife now. ‘Gold is pure’ attitude.

    About cruelty to women among some Islamic countries: 1. ‘Stoning of Soray M.’ About how the husband orchestrates the murder of his wife who did nothing wrong, her father is offered a lot of money and who throws the first stone when she is buried to her neck in ground and stoned to death. 2. Throwing acid at women is a sport in some.

    Men = Women = Men

  3. G3 says

    Reg the “educated” vs “uneducated” argument on issues of patriarchy : In recent years I have come to know how the so-called “savages” – native AMericans and similar cultures throughout the world were some of the most egalitarian societies we have come to known with regard to gender relations, if not outright matriarchal. Patriarchy came about after the so-called “civilization” started. How ironic – civilised are misogynist while savages were not. And those “savages” also recognised grey areas in sexual identity – homosexual and what we call today as GLBT (Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender) whereas we the “civilised” still show bigotry (to varying degrees) against those people. Native Americans used the term “two spirits” to recognise non-binary forms of sexual identities. Patriarchy and homophobia goes hand-in-hand.

  4. Katherine Woo says

    How come this blog doesn’t get more visitors? It seems the more you wallow in petty fights with other atheists or roar about conservative Christians (how original), the more popular you are. This article is unique and informative. I not only learned something about a completely different culture, but this is another fact to file away for future debates on misogyny or religion.

    • Sheetal says

      The article reeks of a woman who wants to portray herself as a very forward thinking feminist, even at the cost of facts.
      The world has come a long way from what it used to be earlier. Hinduism is the oldest religion, so yeah there were a lot of practices that we are not proud of today. They did exist, but are not part of the society anymore. One such is the way widows were treated.
      However, putting sindoor here signifies much more than flaunting d fact that one has a husband.
      Durga is a Goddess, hence a female. Women may have lost their superiority in Hinduism along the way, but women were always considered sacred. Men would address them as devi/deviji ( goddess). We had this in our culture too. I was born in a society which followed matriarchy, which was curbed post independence by the learned people who made the Constitution!!
      Coming back to the topic in hand, in durga festival the females are celebrated. We have kanjaki pooja, where little girls are invited for lunch by those who are fasting. Their feet are washed (a mark of respect) and their blessings taken. Wonder why? Because, these little girls, are durga for them. Similarly, on the last day of pooja, all tge women who are throwing vermilion on each other are considered durga… They are given tge status of the goddess. Now it so happens that in Our culture unmarried women or widows do not wear vermilion. And in the culture, we put vermilion. On durga… Hence the non participation from the other women. But we can always put our point forward in a civil way and argue and get them accepted into this too. The point is to ho bitch about it where it matters.
      And oh yeah, men so wear wedding rings as a sign of showing as to being married. Women wear more stuffs like sindoor (not prevalent in some parts of India) and mangalsutra . But now don’t women in general wear more jewellery than men!!!
      As for modern India…i don’t wear mangalsutra or my wedding ring daily ( read hardly) but my dear husband does wear his ring dutifully. Oh and no one bothered me much about it .

  5. Ani says

    Taslima… I need to talk to you. Can you talk tome once? I am feeling suffocated and need to tell you the things. Please talk to me once!

  6. says

    “Believe it or not, instead of being rejected, Sindoor Khela the patriarchal festival is becoming popular in urban educated societies.”

    I have noticed this happen in regards to other patriarchal practices too, though I never found any social study on it. Perhaps this speaks volumes about the inefficiencies of our education system in enabling people to think freely. All that present education system seems to be good at is in mass production of “followers” with no brains of their own. Somewhat privileged women are happy being slaves of patriarchy because at superficial level they benefit from it too. While they are happy voluntarily choosing to keep their husband’s last name, putting an end to their career to raise kids or enrolling their infant daughters in beauty pageant, numerous other women die of gender related violence or are deprived of basic human rights by the same patriarchal institution they are helping get stronger. I seriously feel terrified seeing present education system do nothing significant to change the status of women.

  7. Prodip says

    I saw ,our Hindu women’s are encouraging ,especially who are growing up with modern elements including higher education,but all this nomadic performance beneath. Even mens don’t bother them properly in the family life , but they worship their god for the immense development for their husband. They are the so-called awaken dupes by their social customs. And women’s are the enemy of them,one more time it has come in the scene truly.

  8. Sandeep says

    Marking a woman’s forehead with vermillion means, ‘this woman is taken’. It is a sign of patriarchal possession, much like how a shepherd marks his livestock. Many women who are taking part in this celebration are leading modern lifestyles. They are either oblivious to the fact or are ignorant of it. Patriarchy survives in the disguise of tradition. And by the way, women are not even allowed to touch the goddess during the five days of Durga Puja. It is only before the immersion, once all the worship is finished they are allowed to touch the idol.

  9. Anindita says

    Over time the Bengali woman has emerged more steep in traditions and engulfed in rituals without as much as questioning her identity and existence. Sindoor khele is now a romantic occasion where the Bangali bride waits to be adorned in the red vermillion so that the men gawk at them from the shadow of the sophisticated thousand dollar camera bought for the occasion. While the percentage of so called emancipated percentage of women in Bengal is probably one of the highest in India, Bengali women have yet a long way ahead yet to confirm themselves as individuals in their own right. By a married woman or a virgin daughter allowed to participate in Sindoor khela and only on the last day when Durga is ready to leave puts such an obnoxious flavour to the ritual and yet we women submerge in it and in no way discredit it either. After all wherever we are in the world we are still hunting for the so called ‘Brahmin’ to perform the 5 day Puja. We are no closer yet to be convince pd to break the tradition to allow any member of the female species tread any close to doing the Puja. In fact we women will vehemently be the first ones to oppose it. Sad and ironic!

  10. Chaitra Saxena says

    Informative write up but written in a very foul and disrespecting language. “Piece of Shit”, really??!!

    • Sourav says

      Yes…informative but language in which it has been written seems somewhat disrespecting (“piece of shit” “pathetic”, “worthless stupid ” etc etc..)

      …. Sindoor khela is indeed celebrated to show how a hindu woman is proud of having her husband in her life. Its a “lovely and pious feeling” … but this write up has not been written in a lovely manner … its like mud and water has been mixed together…


    • Angshuman says

      Author is a knowledgeable freak who doesn’t know to respect others. I don’t understand if this tradition make ladies happy why to criticize. What happened in past or with the author doesn’t mean to everyone is like that. Sorry bad taste. And I appreciate you Mr.Sourav for writing.

  11. Tanisha says

    I think you don’t have a clue! You’re obviously not a Hindu so you should mind your own business. I’m not married, I’m educated, employed, and born and raised in England. I think there are so many beautiful traditions in Durga puja, I don’t appreciate you trying to drag down my faith because you are insecure. For example you stated that women take part in sindoor khela for their ‘pathetic husbands’- how do you know? and who are you to judge if someone’s husband is pathetic or not?
    Are ALL Hindu men pathetic to you? Why? Is it because these men don’t give you the time of day? There are pathetic men and women in every society. I think you are pathetic for coming out with ill informed statements.
    You don’t even know that Durga – female manifestation of the divine is Shakti – literal translation is Strength. In which other religion, culture or language is the word for Strength given to a woman or even exist in the feminine? The expectation of a true devotee of Hinduism ( or Sanatan Dharma) is too be loving and kind. Women who take part in this Sindoor Khela do so optionally, and are in loving happy marriages no doubt. Being a feminist is not about trampling on men – what you state stinks of hate and narrow mindedness. We have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason- to listen and understand more than we speak! Please stop writing your hate and find some happiness in your life- Jai Maa Durga?

    • Lekha C says

      জয় মা

      এইটা লেখার জন্য অনেক ধন্যবাদ। ভাল থাকবেন।

      শুভ বিজয়া।

    • Angshuman says

      Thanks Tanisha for writing. This lady doesn’t know anything. Fir her knowledge let me tell her… Ardha narishar is a combination of shiv and parvati. In later stage when bhrahma requested Shiva and parvati got separated as individual. Where it means Shiva or males are physical strength while the parvati or female are inner strength. Hindu do respect female as better half and Hindus are not like road side religions. Durga is also another image of parvati only. Gather information before bla bla in any blog @ author


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