Marrying a tree?

I never really looked to Miss World 1996 and well-known actress Aishwarya Rai for feminist leadership. I mean, she was “the one” South Asian woman to break into the US mainstream and although, I can’t relate to her as much as say Harold and Kumar or Parminder Nagra, I took her success for what it was. Clearly, recognizing that for an actress from India to (begin to) make it in Hollywood (and Bollywood), she would naturally have light skin, light eyes and flowing hair.
But now she has Indian feminists upset along with women’s activist in the states by supposedly marrying a tree to overcome a curse, after being proposed to by another Bollywood actor.
Via New American Media.

Abhishek, also a film star, proposed to her last month in New York, following the release of their film, “Guru,� there. The wedding is expected to take place later this year.
But Ash is reportedly blighted with what in astrological terms is described as “manglik dosh,� which means that the planet Mars (mangla) and possibly even the planet Saturn are in the seventh house. People with manglik dosh are prone to multiple marriages, according to San Francisco Bay Area Vedic astrologer Pandit Parashar. That means Ash’s marriage to Abhishek could either end in divorce or his death.

Multiple marriages? Imagine the blasphemy! No but really, we all read a little astrology no? (I read a lot.)

In Hindu tradition, in order to offset the evil influence of manglik dosh, a woman should marry a peepal or banana tree before she ties the knot with her fiancé. Or she could even marry a clay urn, which should be broken soon after the nuptial ceremonies, signifying that the bride has become a widow, and the manglik dosh problem has been solved.

Er. Yes it is an old tradition. So the question is, do we expect that Rai, since she has had all this Western success, will no longer follow what she believes is her Hindu traditions? Or that she is somehow absolved from familial pressure?
Probably not. Some Indian feminists however believe that she is setting women back.

Meanwhile, Ash’s actions have invoked the wrath of feminists and women’s rights activists in India. Shruti Singh, a Patna lawyer, filed suit against the two families, saying such ceremonies are in violation of the Indian Constitution and offensive to women.
“I agree with her,� says India-born Berkeley resident Shobha Hiatt, a women’s rights advocate. “It is shocking that people as forward thinking as the Bachchans should engage in such archaic practices. It is like moving back in time.�


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