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The Role of Women in Hinduism

Woman's role as a wife
Traditionally the Hindu woman accepts marriage as her natural destiny. So important is this stage in her life that she believes that with marriage her womanhood is fulfilled. The marriage ceremony itself is considered to be a sacrament, a spiritual union, with God as its constant overseer. Hence it is indissoluble. Marital infidelity is rare in rural India. A man may withstand ignominy through being unfaithful but for the wife to lose face for this reason is a disgrace sometimes worse than death. At the marriage ceremony she takes the vow of undying fidelity to her husband, whom she promises to serve, protect and care for.

She is capable of undergoing severe privations in maintaining those vows. Because of the spiritual nature of this union, separation and divorce amongst Hindus are rare.

The Hindu wife's dedication and selfless service to her husband and his family, (which she adopts on marriage) are sometimes misinterpreted by non-Hindus as perpetual bondage. This is far from the truth. She regards her husband as master of the household, a kin to a partnership. She creates a religious aura at home, makes small altars for worship and sits with her spouse in all religious ceremonies. In this partnership she shares adversities and joys through her faith and devotion. Even if misfortune should befall her early in marriage, thrusting upon the wife the burden of chief breadwinner, the vows of fidelity, service and devotion to the man whose hand she took in marriage, remain with her. She respects and honours him as spouse and on his death she never insults his memory.

Sita, the ideal Hindu wife