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Why do married women in India display a Buddha expression? Analyzing how Indian women respond to daily problems.
As a child, I first noticed the pronounced ‘Buddha expression” on my own grandmother. Then I observed more closely other grandmotherly women (amongst friends and family) and I saw the ‘Buddha expression’ in all of them.
Then I observed my mother, aunts and mothers of friends – and I again saw many hues of the “Buddha expression”. In some instances, it was not as pronounced as it was for the grandmother generation. But it was visible.
So what is the ‘Buddha expression’, you may ask.
It is this expression that I have observed in way too many married women over the years; It is characterized by this ‘calm, serene and peaceful facial expression’ which does not really change based on external triggers or stimulants – be it in words or deeds [good, bad or ugly] of people around you.
Let me give you a few examples that I’ve seen in women around me:
You speak rudely to her; and she is quiet, unruffled and has that ‘Buddha expression’ on her face.
You shout at her; and she is still quiet, unruffled and has that ‘Buddha expression’ on her face.
In some cases, you even beat her; and she still has that ‘Buddha expression’ on her face.
You praise her; and she still does not say anything. She just has that ‘Buddha expression’ on her face.
You sing her glory; and still she does not say anything. She just has that ‘Buddha expression’ on her face.
You thank her for all that she has done for you; and she responds with that ‘Buddha expression’ on her face.
I often wondered how married women could have the ‘Buddha expression’, no matter what situation lay in front of them?
Did they not have any feelings? Were they stoned?
Did they think there’s no point in expressing their thoughts?
Did they not want to react and respond – shout / scream / slap / rejoice in what was being spoken / said of them?
Did they not want to share their innermost emotions with their loved ones (family / friends)?
What was it that universally brought out the ‘BUDDHA expression’ in many a married woman?
As I think, observe and analyze – I think the reason is that the only ‘practical and realistic’ way for a married woman to BE was to mask her true thoughts and emotions with the ‘BUDDHA expression’.
You say what’s on your mind – and you’re labeled as ‘ambitious’, ‘bossy’, ‘dominating’, ‘not lady-like’, ‘being disrespectful’, ‘too smart’, and ‘aggressive’. So over a period of time, you learn to hold back and not really speak what’s on your mind. The only possible response is SILENCE. And if you are silent and serious, then again that’s not acceptable behavior. So you don the ‘Buddha expression’ – ‘Calm, Serene and peaceful’.
You say what’s in your heart – and again, you’re written off as a cry baby who is just too emotional and sentimental about everything under the sun. Too girlish or all that you do is cry for everything is what will be said about you. Again, the only possible response is SILENCE. And if you are silent and show a tinge of emotion, then again that’s not acceptable behavior. So you don the ‘Buddha expression’ – ‘Calm, Serene and peaceful.’
You feel happy about something good that’s happened and react in a happy and excited manner – and you are again type-cast as someone who gets too carried away with what others say. Again, the only possible response is SILENCE. And if you are silent and show happiness, then again that’s not acceptable behavior. So you don the ‘Buddha expression’ – ‘Calm, Serene and peaceful’.
Bottom-Line: Any sort of reaction or response to external triggers and stimulants (good, bad or ugly) – and you are labeled and branded…. for life.
So the ‘Buddha expression’ was a self-discovered, self-imposed and self-taught shield against the world for many a married woman.
Now with the times changing, I still see the ‘Buddha expression’ in many an experienced married woman. For most of them, it is again probably the only ‘practical and realistic’ way to maintain peace in the family on a daily basis. They do pick battles once in a way, but wisely! “No point in waging a war every single day. After all, we all want to have a good night’s sleep. So this Buddha expression keeps the family going through the ups and downs of what life has to offer” is how one woman summed it up!
I really don’t know how long women need to wear the ‘Buddha expression’ to keep the world going! But here’s what I do know – There are benefits in mastering the art of the ‘Buddha expression’. And while I practice this art, you leave a comment to let me know how long do you think married women need to keep the ‘Buddha expression’ going?
pic credit: patriziasoliani (Used under a Creative Commons license)
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