Body, Boundaries and Sindoor Feminism in India

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Abstract

In Hinduism, sindoor is a symbol of a married woman’s chastity, love and fidelity towards her husband. This potent mark inscribed on the forehead and in the parting of a woman’s hair serves as a reminder of her heterosexual identity, unavailability to other men, and the ownership of her body by her husband. Problematising how this heteropatriarchal imperative has complicated the bodily boundaries between the personal, social and cultural, this article explores the religious, nationalist and transnational politics of the appropriation of sindoor. The article analyses literary texts, Indian cinema classics and advertisements to critically explore how the sindoor mark is constituted by a complex interplay of race, gender, sexuality, religion, class, caste and nationality, inviting one to collaborate in the perpetuation of the doing and undoing of feminism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1019-1040
Number of pages22
JournalSouth Asia: Journal of South Asia Studies
Volume43
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 South Asian Studies Association of Australia.

Keywords

  • Body
  • boundaries
  • feminism
  • India
  • nationalism
  • sindoor

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