Today I saw Princess publicly displaying her mangala sootra in the court.
Being a frequent visitor to courts, I am familiar with wives using symbols of marriage, especially the mangala sootra, to “tease” their estranged husbands. As always, I was a bit amused, but soon, memories from the fateful night of 28 December 2005 flashed before my eyes.
Right before getting us arrested, I remember Princess forcefully pulling out her mangala sootra from underneath her pallu, à la filmy style, holding it out with both her hands and demanding my brother, “What do you want me to do with THIS?”. My brother and I sat there speechless, wondering “what stunt is she trying to pull this time?”
The one thing we had clearly understood by then was that to Princess and party, the mangala sootra meant that the man who tied the (three) knot(s) and his family were to be their bonded slaves for the rest of their lives.
Princess knew exactly what to do with a mangala sootra. As a matter of fact, all 498A girls see the mangala sootra as primarily a valuable gold ornament, which also serves as a multipurpose tool – an instrument to hold a man and his family hostage, a license to make false allegations of abuse, a means to gain sympathy from the society, and a powerful weapon to blackmail and extort money.
During my numerous visits to courts, I have seen many warring wives going out of their way to display all the symbols which signify the bond of marriage – mangala sootra, toe rings, vermillion along the parting-line of the hair, etc. I often joke with my brother that they must also be rigorously observing “varalakshmi vratam” , “mangala gauri pooja“, “karva chauth”, and other rituals aimed at protecting the mangala sootra, while they simultaneously work towards the systematic destruction – emotional, financial and physical – of the man who tied it around their neck.
They all remind me of the following song from the Telugu movie “SubhalagnaM” written by Sirivennela. I will not translate it because the video is self-explanatory – most beautifully written, composed and picturized!
What is the big deal about the mangala sootra anyway?
mangala (auspicious) sootra (thread) is a symbol of the bond of marriage.
During a Telugu wedding ceremony, a pooja is performed to sanctify the mangala sootra, blessings are obtained from elders and married women, after which the groom ties it around the neck of the bride uttering the following mantra:
maaMgalyaM taMtunaanEna mama jeevana hEtunaa
kaMThE badhnaami SubhakE tvaM jeeva SaradaaM SataM
(I am tying around your neck, this scared thread which signifies the reason for my life. Wear this thread which represents the basis of my life and live a hundred years!)
The mangala sootra consists of two round pendants which rest on the woman’s chest – one pendant represents jeevaatma and the other represents paramaatma. They are first tied separately via two separate strings, but joined together onto one string on the 16th day after the wedding, signifying the union of jeevaatma with paramaatma through marriage. The three knots represent the three (sthoola – physical, sookshma – astral/subtle, karaNa – causal) bodies of the husband, meaning that even when the physical body is gone, he is still with the wife through the other two.
Don’t answer! You have the rest of your life to think about it.