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Four years ago.
I call my mother a few days before Navratri.
Amma: uff, I am having trouble finding a girl
RM: What? Girl?
Amma: A girl child, a kanya ponnu to give the clothes for Navami pooja. You know RM, with this girl-boy ratio going so haywire, eventually we are going to have no girls left in this world and everyone will be searching frantically for that one girl who is left and she will become like a Goddess or something.
I laugh at my mom’s imagination.
Three years ago.
I am getting ready to pick up R from the daycare after a day of work-from-home, the door bell rings. A lady and her husband are outside.
Lady: Hi, is there a little girl in this house?
RM: Errr…no..I mean, yes but she is not here now
Lady (a bit disappointed): Oh okay, can you please give her this? (She hands me a dabba of prasad, and some coins in it and a big water bottle.)
RM: Errr..who are you?
Man: We live on the 10th floor of your building. We were searching for a baby girl to give the asthami prasad and yours is the only one we were told about, so we came to give it.
RM: oh okay, come in, come in, and so on…
Two years ago.
I get a call on the intercom.
Voice: Madam, Do you have a girl child in the house?
RM: Who is this please?
Voice: I am calling from **** flat; actually we were searching for a girl child for the asthami pooja of navratri and unfortunately there are none in the vicinity we know. Then the watchman said that you have a daughter who is about 3 years old. Can you send her and we can do her pooja?
One year ago.
Office friend: You know RM, my mother in Meerut is having so much trouble trying to find a small girl for the asthami pooja. Everyone seems to have only boys.
The door bell rings and RD opens it. A lady says that someone told her that there is a girl child in our house and she has been searching all through 3 buildings to find one to give the asthami prasad.
I get reminded of my mother’s words four years ago.
Is it true? Are kanya ponnus* really getting difficult to find? Or is it just that I am experiencing this because I have a 5 year old at home? I do feel if the female infanticide continues at this rate and Khap panchayats continue to flourish, what else should we expect?
Will my mother’s sinister words come true, in the future?
*kanya ponnu – A girl who has not yet attained puberty. In the south of India, such a girl is given clothes, prasad, etc since she is considered to be a Goddess.
Similarly in the north of India, a girl who has not yet attained puberty is treated as a Goddess on the Asthami day where people actually do her pooja by falling at her feet and giving her prasad and clothes and stuff since she is considered a Goddess incarnate.
Today’s changemaker that we’d like to highlight is Population First, a non-profit that works on the issue of population in India, from the perspective of women’s rights and access to information about reproductive health as well as contraception. Rather than looking at it as a question of numbers to be “controlled”, Population First focuses on working with local communities and using tools including mass media, to improve the very poor awareness on ground about fertility, spacing and women’s autonomy over their bodies.
The Laadli campaign by Population First focuses on sex selective abortions that are rampant in India despite being illegal. You can follow them on Facebook too.
Pic credit: Doubleray (Used under a Creative Commons license)
R’s Mom is a working mother in Mumbai trying to balance work, home and
I used to stay in Delhi till about 3 years back and I remember that year on year, it kept getting harder to a find little girls for the ashtami puja during Navratri. In Haryana, already there are villages where there is not a single girl! They buy girls from neighbouring villages for marriage and one girl has to satisfy all the men in the house! Dunno what we are all bringing upon ourselves with such a high rate of female foeticide in our country!!
Its really sad state of affairs!
Goddess for one day, and dead the rest of the year! We are living in a sad world, where even a foetus is scanned for its gender. Ghastly! Untill we don’t remedy this, forget buildings we’ll be travelling states to find girls for poojas..
Its really really sad that this was the case…I am praying we dont come to a stage where we really need to search for girls 🙁
Nice point touched here, really! All this frantic search for a girl on Navratri days just shows how hypocrite the society is!
Yaa but honestly if this female infanticide continues, it wont be only Navratri, it would be all the time!
Sad but true. I read a piece in a Tamil magazine about a village in Haryana where dearth of eligible girls lead them to villages in Tamilnadu in search of brides. A number of girls have actually married these men.
Its so sad!
Hi, are u staying in north india by any chance, haryana to be precise?
because thats not the case in south indian citied where i stayed..
eg. my 6 yr, nephew in hyderabad is lonely at home as he has no playmates, all families in their flat have girl childs.
also majority of my colleagues and friends in s/w industry have girl child only..
I am not aware of the conditions of north indian cities though..
Thanks R’S Mom. This is something that only women discuss. How many are able to tell the husband’s family assertively that she is going to stop with the girl child and not start reproducing boys, so that they carry the family name, light pyre, and so on. When a person dies, what he/she has done while alive is spoken, and not who lit the pyre. Now think and tell who lit the pyre for Mother Teresa, Rajaram Mohan Roy and Annie Besant. I do not know nor am I bothered. Indians do not follow all those told in the scriptures but meticulously choose only these, for their personal aggrandizement, because – the sons will take care of them in the future, they will earn wealth and keep them in the comfort zone and the wife he marries will slave around them. If not for the above three, no parent would like to get sons.
Just check some mental health and rehabilitation homes and find out, how many men are admitted there by the family by giving wrong address so that those men are not brought back home. If these male heirs do not light the pyres of their parents, we seriously need to know how these souls will go to heaven!
To all..please see 50millionmissing.wordpress.com to understand the enormity of the task lying ahead in empowering women, and you may also contribute your views there regarding female infanticide and foeticide.
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