Growing up, I realized that the responsibility of carrying the traditions and culture in not very evenly distributed in society – most of it lies on a girl’s shoulders.
It’s been long since I have been trying to understand the meaning of traditions and culture. Well as a kid, I was told by my parents that things like respecting elders, helping the needy, and caring for youngsters is a tradition that has been followed in our society, and highlights the rich and extensive culture of our nation.
As I grew up, it started becoming evident to me that the society has been unjust in gauging the traditions and values of a family through the actions, behaviour and appearance of the ladies in the family, while the men enjoyed their freedom.
As a girl grows up in this hypocritical society, she is taught how to dress well, walk well, talk softly, smile and laugh etc., while the same family is proud about the flamboyant styles of their boys which is anything but soft and subtle.
No matter how happy a girl is on her wedding day, a smiling or laughing bride in our society would have many eyebrows raised against her while the groom enjoys the celebrations without the guilt of hampering the family’s culture. Why is marriage considered a happy occasion only for the groom? And if that’s not the case, why isn’t the bride allowed showing off her happiness and elated feelings?
The other offensive practice, one which really bothers me is the fact that our culture teaches women to put on sindoor and bindi, and wear mangalsutra and bangles to enhance the life of their husband, while the husbands don’t find it worthwhile doing anything or wear anything to enhance their wives’ life! Seriously? Do we actually believe that wearing something in particular would keep all evil spirits away from somebody’s life?
I was surfing though some facebook posts the other day, and there were people putting up ‘scientific reasons’ for wearing bangles and sindoor etc. Some posts said that it helps in keeping the blood pressure under control while other posts highlighted the fact that such practice would keep the person calm. In that case, its high time we should ask men to start wearing sindoor and bangles, as I what I understand from my education is that they don’t come insulated for blood pressure and tension!
All these explanations and clarifications are actually a result of our patriarchal social norms of culture and traditions.
The crazy part of this society is the fact that if the girl stops or misses wearing any of the mandatory items after marriage, she is proven guilty of not following the traditions. While a girl can sit with her father and eat or watch TV, she cannot do so with her father in law as our rich culture teaches us respect, and it would be considered very disrespectful of the girl to sit with her father in law, no matter how much love and care has been exhibited by her otherwise.
This does not amaze me as much as the fact that the same thing done by a man is not considered disrespectful. A man can very well sit with his father in law, eat in the same plate together, can wear anything in front of his in laws but no one dares to point their fingers questioning his respect or love for them!
I was talking to a group of friends the other day and then the discussion moved on the status of women in the society. While all of them believed that in spite of people’s progressive mindset of people there is still a lot of inequality between men and women, some of them (especially girls) totally believed in the fact that as our ancestors followed these traditions, we should follow them too, even though they did not believe in them!
Are we actually progressing? Or is progress limited to new versions of phones and electronic gadgets? Isn’t it high time that we try to put a stop to these traditions by refraining from them if we don’t believe in them?
The greatness of our culture was justified by the fact that women were ascribed the most honoured place in the society. They were befittingly called ‘ardhangini‘ (better half) then because they were given an equal position with men along with equal rights. I don’t understand – when did the culture get modified and altered enough to rest on the slender shoulders of women?
I might have offended some people with my post and I would like to apologize for the same as I totally respect the individual perspective of people. But just give it a thought – would you want your daughter, your niece, your sister to undertake the responsibility of preserving some hypocritical traditional norms and culture? Don’t you think it’s high time to say NO to some of the cultural conventions when we don’t believe in them, instead of forcing those conventions on us just because our ancestors did the same? Making this society a better place to live for the next generation lies in our hand and now it’s upon us to decide what we do!
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