Over the years, your support has made Women’s Web the leading resource for women in India. Now, it is our turn to ask, how can we make this even more useful for you? Please take our short 5 minute questionnaire – your feedback is important to us!
What is culture? Is it good? Do we recognize and change the culture in which we raise our children? Is the populist view always right? Questions with no answers.
I watch my children as they groove to my playlist on the iPhone. The songs change from peppy to pathos. Sensing the shift in moods, the kids home in to my lap, ensconcing themselves as they drown in the sounds around them.
I ruffle their hair as my mind mulls decisions.
Our peer group is eclectic. There are a few who believe in immersing their children in the culture they grew up in. Their kids learn their mother tongue, they recite prayers and they wear their ethnicity as a badge of honor. Then there are a few who seek balance. A little mythology balanced with jazz. Ballet classes offset with carnatic music or bharatanatyam. They celebrate Holi and Halloween with equal fervor.
I am not sure which path I want to tread. I stay on the sidelines listening to both sides. I join in their celebrations as an observer. Feeling at home some times and tired of the posturing at others. I am not even sure if I should influence what my children should be interested in. Then there is the often bandied about term ‘culture’ the meaning of which I am yet to understand.
What does it mean? Language? Mythology? Religion? Arts? Music? Food? Stereotyping? Misogyny? Patriarchy?
Different people I talk to interpret it different ways.
“I want to move back to India because I do not want my children to imbibe the western culture”
“I send my children to Bal Vihar so they can better understand their culture”
“I insist on speaking with my children in my language even if they respond in English because if they cannot speak in our language, they will miss out on the connection to their culture”
“I celebrate all festivals in a traditional manner so my children can relate to their culture”
I look back on my childhood remembering the traditional ‘kolams‘ in Margazhi (December). The women at the local Devi temple entering a trance midst the frantic drum beats and crowds chanting the Devi’s name. The tradition of walking on coals at Bannari. Kavadi attam in the month of Thai (January). Golu hopping during Navarathri. The vibrant colors and sounds of Deepavali. All of these experiences were organic. A function of the time and place I was part of. None of it was something my parents exposed me to intentionally.
Then there are the things I have picked up semi consciously. I never touch a book with my feet. I walk barefoot within our home. I fall at the feet of people elder to me even if I do not particularly like them. I stop to close my eyes and dwell on God if I see a temple anywhere. I bite back strong words if I feel my views are in contention with the popular sentiment. I hesitate from speaking my mind even if I am saying nothing wrong. I hesitate from entering a place of worship if I am menstruating. These are a function of the unwritten rules enforced by the society in which I grew up.
Do I want my children to experience the same things I did? Do I let them figure it out for themselves or nudge them a certain way? What do I want them to think of when they reflect on the culture in which they were raised? What is the heritage I want them to be proud of? Do I expose them to the mythology that seems so flawed to my adult eyes? Most importantly, what is this elusive culture everyone speaks of?
I am still searching for answers.
*Photo credit: Steven Depolo (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
Women's Web is an alternative magazine covering real issues for real women. This blog handle usually includes posts about happenings at Women's Web, interesting contests/events, people working on the website and so read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!
Calling a vaginal birth a 'normal' or 'natural' birth was probably appropriate years ago when Caesarian births were rare, in an emergency.
When I recently read a post on Facebook written by a woman who had a vaginal birth casually refer to her delivery as a natural one, it rankled.
For too long, we have internalized calling vaginal deliveries ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ deliveries as if any other way of childbirth is abnormal. What about only a vaginal birth is natural? Conversely, what about a Caesarian Section is not normal?
When we check on the health of the mother and baby post delivery, why do we enquire intrusively, what kind of delivery they had? “Was it a ‘normal’ delivery?” we ask.
Many women have lost their lives to this darkness. It's high time we raise awareness, and make maternal mental health screening a part of the routine check ups.
Trigger Warning: This deals with severe postpartum depression, and may be triggering for survivors.
Motherhood is considered a beautiful blessing. Being able to create a new life is indeed beautiful and divine. We have seen in movies, advertisements, stories, everywhere… where motherhood is glorified and a mother is considered an epitome of tolerance and sacrifice.
But no one talks about the downside of it. No one talks about the emotional changes a woman experiences while giving birth and after it.