Why Parineeti's veil with husband's name on it had my head scratching

Isn't this but another way of the man marking the woman as his territory?

I thought Parineeti Chopra made for such a happy bride. Seeing images of her dancing to her husband-to-be waiting at the mandap, running the lemon and spoon race with his family, singing songs that mean much to the young lovers, and basically just having a blast at her own wedding, one can’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy.

But judging celebrities and celebrity brides is an occupational hazard. And so I will. I loved the neutral-toned lehenga. No, I don’t feel enough brides wear pastels or nudes to their wedding. Alia Bhatt broke the norm with a white and gold lehenga (unheard of for north Indian brides). Like Alia, and almost every new bride these days, Parineeti wore a veil.

The idea of a veil is manna from heaven for designer lehenga makers. There was a time when a lehenga was traditionally a three-piece—the swirling circle-cut skirt, a fitted blouse or choli and a dupatta or cover-up. The headpiece, or veil, that now borrows heavily from Christian weddings, was almost always a blurred space. Everyone wanted one, but brides often made do with the sole dupatta or then purchased another one in a similar shade.

Raghav Chadha and Parineeti Chopra | PTI Raghav Chadha and Parineeti Chopra | PTI

Until bridal designers started selling the veil, or a second dupatta, along with the lehenga. By now, this dupatta is a proper veil. Much larger, longer and wider with a little embroidery or an embellishment to hold the front part down. Parineeti’s veil (and outfit) was designed by celebrity bridal designer Manish Malhotra, and had groom Raghav Chadha’s first name embroidered on it in Devanagari script.

One can hardly argue with the custom of covering heads today. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and Amish brides, and often grooms, cover their heads during the wedding ceremonies. Much of this symbolism has to do with the prayer service, but often only brides are supposed to wear a veil after the marriage ceremony is done.

It is the husband’s name on clothing that has my head scratching. Isn’t this but another way of a man marking the woman as his territory?

Writing the husband’s name on one’s mehendi or wedding rings is not uncommon. Thankfully my marriage was long done by the time I decided it was such a sexist act to follow. Most modern brides are done with wearing sindoor too, or the man placing vermilion on the woman’s forehead. Red is often romanticised as the colour of love, but it is also the colour of blood. Historically, warring kings would have the victor dab the slain king’s blood on his widowed queen’s head. It is all kinds of ugh.

Parineeti is hardly the first bride to have her husband’s name embroidered on her veil. Her cousin Priyanka Chopra did so, too. Priyanka also wore a mangalsutra, a black-beaded necklace Hindu women wear to ensure their husband’s long lives. When the husband passes, the mangalsutra is not to be worn again. But hey, if Bulgari paid me a few millions to wear one, I would choose economic independence over patriarchal insignias.

Model Hailey Bieber had ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ emblazoned on her veil. This is yet another reminder that weddings are quite morbid if one is always thinking of the grim reaper. And hopefully that death would not be the only way out of a marriage. Many of us don’t have the pulchritude of Kareena Kapoor who can knock off her abusive husband in Jaane Jaan with a water heater, and have an unsightly but hopeful suitor go to jail for it.

Wedding symbolism needs to change. If love is to be an equal place, we must untie all threads of patriarchy, golden or not.