Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sindoor - A symbol of suhaag or slow poison

I feel like I must write this post. I just read Pooja's post this morning on the Jain religion. Most of it was okay, those are the normal kind of questions that would come into the head of any thinking adult once they grew up past the mass hypnosis of religion. But there was one part of it that horrified and disgusted me as I read it. 

Here is the link and an excerpt:

"Recently I was reading a book on Hinduism and vedas, ya sometimes I pick up these books by mistake too, in which I was shocked to read about the tradition of applying sindoor. The main component of traditional sindoor is usually vermilion. A component considered to be toxic by nature.

As most of you must be aware that Hindu wives are expected to fill sindoor (for me it always looked like a stamp of being taken/sold/unavailable!) along the parting of their hair, thus applying it on the scalp (where the pores are most open), so as to let it seep inside slowly. It is a sacred and most prominent symbol of a Hindu married woman. Like I’ve said earlier, Vermilion is a toxic substance, you might now wonder why a Hindu married lady is made to apply if it is a known toxic, and well that’s the precise reason for making her do it. 
A female’s life span is comparatively longer than her male counterparts, as we all know, and that’s exactly why this practice was incorporated, to slowly poison the wife so that both the partners can die with each other, and for the ones who dint die a natural death, they were made out to be satis. (An abolished tradition of Hindu wives burning themselves alive on their husbands’ pyre).

Doesn't it sound like that applying sindoor is more like killing someone slowly and painlessly? Most of us are not even aware of the meaning of some traditional rituals that we are made to follow. We just do as we are told, as again asking for logic or questioning our age-old praths (religious ceremonies) is considered to be a taboo in most Hindu homes."

I did some research on the net and it was easy to find that she had her facts right. 
Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia: 

"Modern sindoor mainly uses vermilion, which is an orange-red pigment. Vermilion is the purified and powdered form of cinnabar, which is the chief form in which mercury sulfide naturally occurs. As with other compounds of mercury, sindoor is toxic and must be handled carefully. Sometimes, red lead (lead tetroxide, also known as minium) is also added to sindoor.[8] Red lead is also toxic and a known carcinogen for laboratory animals, though its carcinogenicity to humans has not been established. Traditional sindoor was made with turmeric andalum or lime, or from other herbal ingredients.[9] Unlike red lead and vermilion, these are not poisonous.[9][10] In early 2008, allegations of high lead content led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to recall batches of Sindoor from several manufacturers.[11]"

And here is one from a site that sells vermilion: 

"Some authorities consider natural cinnabar to be non-toxic. Anita Albus writes that the deadly poison of mercury becomes harmless when it is stably bound with sulfur. However, we consider cinnabar and vermilion to be toxic and urge caution in handling the dry powder pigment, as well as the pigment dispersed in medium."

Once I had grown up and understood the nature of religion, I have never been a fan of religion, but this makes me positively disgusted. This is one of the reasons I don't like organized religion. Most people are reasonable and reasonably smart, but when it comes to religion they turn into sheep. They stop thinking for themselves and they stop being their reasonable, sensible, kind self. How else would you justify the justified killing of innocent people in the name of religion by kind-hearted, good people who wouldn't even hurt a fly otherwise? 

Even if you publicise this fact and take a survey on how many loving husbands are willing to buck the tradition and stop their wives from using sindoor I think you would find that the number is not more than 2%. And 2% is just the exception you can find for any rule. 

Sometimes I wonder if Man was God's best creation or his folly!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this!

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