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Priya Motiani


Sapna Bhavnani Married Objects & A Dead Person To Challenge Wedding Rituals

  • JWB Post
  •  March 10, 2016


Remember Sapna Bhavnani? The Bollywood celebrity hairstylist who recently opened up about being gang-raped and being domestically abused by her husband?

Well, we are all head over heels about her after viewing her recent photo project wherein she gets married. Multiple times.

Psst! Wait till you see the pictures, it is not what you think it is.

After being married and divorced thrice in real life, Sapna marries objects and people she loves, in this photo diary, so as to question and influence for the better the ideas surrounding the institution of marriage.

What triggered this quest of hers is an incident that happened 4 years back when she was in Berlin. She walked into a store to try out a wedding dress but was frowned upon because of her appearance.

“I was refused because of my shaved head and ink. The guy looked at me and simply said, “You’re getting married? Who the hell would marry you?”” she told Buzzfeed.

“When you’ve already been married three times, this whole theory of “till death do us part” makes no sense. Words like “forever”, “infinite”, “eternal”, “permanent” describe the ink on your body better than the human standing in front of you at the altar.”

And so, she began by marrying her own self first.


And vowed to herself: “With this marriage, I promise to love, respect, and cherish myself in rain and shine. Till death do us part.”

“This marriage was my first and the most important. An acceptance of me as the world saw me; strong, fierce, independent, determined and the real “me,” which also had emotions wrapped in those layers. As an activist, I sincerely believe that one cannot help others till they help themselves.”

We couldn’t agree more, Sapna! Even we believe that each person should marry and value his/her own self, before getting married to his/her significant other.

Then she married her cat.

Here’s her vow to the cat: “With this marriage, I promise to be there when you get old and crabby (not that that will ever happen). When your meows gradually fade to silence, I promise to be your foundation. I’ve become strong now for you to lean on me. My sweet feline, I love you. Till death do us part.”

“When I came out with my story of being gang-raped a few years ago, Logic was the one I leaned on the most. I was single then and Logic filled the gap like no man ever had.”

Btw, Logic is her cat. In case, you were wondering.

Next, she got married to Bombay.

Her vow to Bombay: “With this marriage, I promise to make you as beautiful as you make me feel; by walking gently on your skin, by planting smiles on your naked rocks when the hot sun beats down on them and by not judging you for the garbage thrown by us. I am Bombay. I am you and you are me. Till death do us part.”

“This city has given me so much and that’s just it: I’ve always taken.”

Ah! I wish everyone made that vow to their respective cities, with or without marrying them. The world would become a better place to live in, in a jiffy!

Then she married her ink.

Her vow to her ink: “With this marriage, I promise to bear all the pain and blood shed without complaining. The only story left to tell would be ours, but that would change with every new life. You are me and I am you. Till death do us part.”

“My nani always had the best stories to tell me and most of them were so ridiculous but still she made them feel so believable. I loved my nani. Before she passed away she only told me one thing: “make sure you have stories to tell your children; children don’t really care about how much money you have in the bank, or whose hair you cut, or what car you drive. Give them magic.” With every story, I weave a line on my body.”

If her last line is taken to be true, we can only wonder how many lines she has on her body, and what stories they behold.

And also her disappearing ink.

Her vow to her disappearing ink: “With this marriage, I promise to accept your infidelity as unintentional. Your disappearance will not signify abandon but abundance. My stories will be written with soul instead of ink. Till death do us part.”

“With ink comes the additional fear of what one would look like at seventy while shit gets saggy all around. When memory starts to crumble and the ink starts to leak and most of the stories are forgotten for better or for worse.”

She married her roots.

Her vow to them:  “With the marriage, I promise to explore the shit outta you, unafraid of consequences. I promise to show the world how beautiful and gentle you really are, even though you exist in a place we all are conditioned to hate from childhood. Your presence in our National Anthem to this day makes me realize your absence even more. The white color of my skin makes me wonder of the men that came in and out of my lineage. Never has anything or anyone had my attention like you. You have rooted yourself inside me and I know this journey is going to be the longest I’ve ever had. Bring it on. Till death do us part.”

“I had no idea how immersed in arts and poetry and music the Sindh culture really is. Why did my family not teach me my language? Why didn’t they take me to see our old house? Why did they feel that speaking of our roots was unimportant?

Married her fan.

Her vows to Sumair: “With this marriage, I promise to be your chomu forever. I don’t use words like “forever” ‘cuz I don’t believe in them, but somehow it feels apt with you. Even if I am lying, I know you will be ok with that. And that is exactly why I will always be around. Till death do us part.”

“Sumair is a handsome bugger from Pune. He used to read my columns in the paper. One day he came by the salon to see me with presents. He said he wanted a Haircut but what he really wanted to say was “He loved the shit outta me.” But I knew that already.”

And lastly, she got married to her BFF after he died.

Her vow to Shivraj: “With this marriage, I promise to never take you for granted. There were moments when you reached out to talk but I was always busy. ‘Cuz no one pays any attention to those who smile all the time. You are gone, but you are not. I have become the woman who smiles all the time. Till death do us part.

“Shivraj A.K.A. Mr. Postman was my newest best friend. He didn’t give me any other option really. I didn’t know anything about him; not even that he wasn’t a real Sikh but a South Indian experimenting with religions by getting into them; literally. Before I realized he was everything I ever wanted in a friend he decided to move on to the next world. I really got to know everything about him at his funeral, through his notes, his friends, his family. I sat there dressed like him (in his clothes) wondering how the bastard managed to get into my core so quickly.”


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