Sun. Jun 20th, 2021

When Tanuja Patil and Shardul Kadam decided to get married after the first wave of pandemic subsided last year, they had something revolutionary in mind. Indian weddings come with a host of rituals that are steeped in centuries of patriarchy, and Shardul planned to change one of them. The groom-to-be wondered why only the woman had to wear the mangalsutra — a sacred thread that shows her marital status.

Shardul proposed that both he and Tanuja will tie mangalsutra around each other’s neck. While his parents were surprised, a few of his relatives questioned his decision. However, that didn’t stop Shardul from proudly wearing the ornament. What made it really beautiful was the fact that it was not just a symbolic gesture for a day.

The Mumbai couple, who were dating for four years before they tied the knot, married in December 2020 with both of them doing the ritual. The groom, who calls himself a “hardcore feminist” feels the one-sided ritual “makes no sense”.

“After the pheras when Tanuja and I tied the mangalsutra around each other’s neck, I was so happy,” Shardul, who spoke to Humans of Bombay said. However, his thoughtful decision not only raised a few eyebrows, he was also subjected to brutal online trolling, with many abusing him on social media.

Talking about the backlash, the newlyweds said people started commenting. “‘Now wear a saree also’, ‘Do you bleed once a month?’ Even liberals started trolling me, ‘This is not the way to support gender equality’. they said.” He remained undeterred, despite the miffed expression of their relatives and social media hate.

The couple said they had anticipated some negative comments but not to this extent. “At first, Tanuja was affected by it, but it’s been 4 months now and we’re just done with the trolls,” Shardul was quoted as saying by the popular social media page. “Because Tanuja and I can define our relationship better than anyone else; we support each other’s work, believe in each other’s dreams, and are in this journey together. So, who cares what the world thinks?” he added.

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“For some reason, the girl’s family is ‘supposed’ to bear the cost of the wedding, but I went to Tanuja’s parents and told them that we’d split all costs,” he added saying that he strongly believes that marriage was about equality.

Earlier, in an Instagram post, Kadam had explained his reasons for wearing a mangalsutra how he is ‘uncomfortable’ with the interpretation the symbol with the traditional practice in our society. “The philosophy behind the mangal sutra seems absolutely amazing but the way it is interpreted in society is a little different,” he wrote.

Saying that mangalsutra means “an auspicious thread uniting the souls” which symbolises that they will be together until death he asked, “Why can’t I wear this auspicious thread as a symbol of our relationship?”

Now, as their story goes viral, the couple is receiving a lot of love and support from many around the country. Many commenting on the thread hoped that Kadam’s gesture can inspire others to do the same.