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A single woman in India is not 'qualified' to do a number of things as per our traditions. Yet, being single can also mean freedom.
A single woman in India is not ‘qualified’ to do a number of things as per our traditions. Yet, being single can also mean freedom.
This post is part of a special series on #FreedomToBe, where we share stories about one’s relationship status and the judgement that often comes with it. This writing series is supported by SoulCafe, a platform focused on Building Soul Relationships. It is a platform that gives users recommendations based on aspects that matter the most – Personality, Life Values and Interests.
In my post, How as a Single Mother, I reclaimed Goddess Lakshmi, I talked about fresher perspectives and re-looking at some of the old rituals with the new, empowered vision of a single parent. This little tale continues from there.
In the winter of 2012, after staying in a rented space for two years, I finally found my dream house. With two little hills in its backyard, it seemed like the perfect anchor for my restless soul. In 2013, the boys and I were ready to move.
A close friend had come down for the housewarming ceremony, decked me up in a deep green sari, put flowers in my hair and adorned my wrists with bangles of pink and amber. Even as the excitement mounted, an unfamiliar trepidation settled in my throat.
Holding the picture of Godess Durga close to my heart and putting aside my fears, I stepped over the threshold along with my boys. My parents followed suit, dressed in their silken finery. The motley group of relatives also trooped in behind us. I braced myself for the long, tedious ceremonies ahead. The priest had already arrived and was making all preparations for the Gruhapravesh.
The boys and I sat on the mattress – our palms joined in silent obeisance. My parents sat on the low wooden stools and presided over the various rituals.
Somewhere in the middle of Lakshmi Homam, Ganapati Homam and Vaasthu Puja, I realized that I did not belong to any of those ceremonies.
As an owner, I existed on the title deed of the flat, but as the spiritual owner of the abode, I needed to be someone’s Dharma Patni. Perhaps even carrying the picture of my favuorite Goddess had been an unconscious act of blasphemy on my part. Perhaps the man of the house was supposed to do it. A single woman according to these rituals was not qualified enough to conduct these rituals.
But a housewarming ceremony was no place to start a debate. I let the matter rest.
But the doubts persisted.
However, as time passed, the house embraced us. The walls started gathering grease marks and finger prints. The boys earmarked their favourite hiding places. I had my own favorite little corner. Slowly, I started feeling as though I had complete ownership of the home – in material, emotional and spiritual terms.
But there was the question. It was growing on me now.
One day, I asked my mother if a widower can preside over the ceremonies. Are single persons not as qualified as married ones when it came to these rites?
“No,” my mother replied, “In all Hindu rituals, only a couple has identity.”
Even as I nodded, she continued, “But when a man is widowed and needs to perform these ceremonies, he is usually re-married.”
The doubts faded. I realized that in the long run, it is my choices that matter more than anything else. My ‘Singledom’ to me was my own personal freedom tale. I could gather my wings and fly into open skies or remain ensconced in my cozy nest.
The same evening, as I tucked into the last morsel of my favourite upma, I was reminded of this story I had read long time back:
Once upon a time, there resided a widow and widower in two apartments, which faced each other. Being immediate neighbours and without any encumbrances, they start spending more and more time with each other. Once, the widower proposes marriage to the widow.
“I am alone as you are,” he says, “Since the time my wife died, I have never eaten this tasty food. Why don’t we spend the rest of our lives together?”
The widow is upset.
“What makes you think I need someone,” she asks.
“For the first time, I am cooking for myself. I am thinking about myself. What makes you think I am unhappy? What makes you think I am desperate to achieve the married status?”
The widower is stunned. But he respects the woman for her choice and they continue being friends as before.’
That fictional woman is my hero. In my mind’s eye, we go for long walks and talk late into night. Sometimes she cheers me when I am planning for an exciting project. At other times, she just lets me sleep. And sometimes when I am on the brink of apologizing, she gently pulls me back and whispers the freedom verse into my ear.
Three of the published entries including this one, will receive a Papilio glass table clock with old world charm, courtesy of SoulCafe. You can also follow SoulCafe on their Facebook page for more relationship insights.
Image of ceremonial lamps courtesy Shutterstock
Sridevi Datta is a freelance content writer and editor. She blogs at "The Write Journey" and "Writing Zen Crayons". read more...
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The female protagonists in Nagesh Kukunoor's movies are strong, independent and inspiring women. They aren't damsels in distress waiting for men to come to their rescue.
Bollywood has been experimenting with the genre of Feminism for quite some time now. The film industry is gradually becoming more and more progressive and giving women the recognition they deserve.
Filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor had started implementing the element of gender equality in his movies long before it became a ‘trend’. Moreover, the theme is so subtly embedded in his narratives, that it appears natural rather than forced.
Here, I’d like to explore how women not only appear in prominent roles in Kukunoor’s movies, but also epitomise strength and courage.
Noelle Page from The Other Side of Midnight, and Subbu from Aaranya Kandam, tell young women that "it's a man’s world, but you still have the power to bend it your way."
Noelle Page from The Other Side of Midnight, and Subbu from Aaranya Kandam, tell young women that “it’s a man’s world, but you still have the power to bend it your way.”
Feminism. The practically infamous F word that makes people uncomfortable within just seconds. Not just men, but everyone who has internalized patriarchy in general feels so threatened, that they do not even want to listen.
There are women who spend their whole lives trying to make something of themselves, standing up for themselves and their rights. But no matter how hard they try, there’s still an underlying tone of ‘rebellion’ in this progress and it is brushed off as being ‘arrogant’.
What does being a single woman by choice in India mean? Is it easy for a woman? Here is a take.
What does being a single woman by choice in India mean? Is it easy for a woman? Here is my take.
Nothing makes more noise in our society than the epithermal ceremony called marriage. No, this is one word we Indians cannot get over, even for a moment. It’s almost a tamasha that every born individual goes through in this country. It often feels that one is raised just to enter this institution, especially if you are a girl. Come on, how many times we have heard someone telling a girl, “If you can’t cook how do you think you are going to take care of your future families?” In an Indian society, girls are somehow told that in future they will have to be a part of a ‘new family’ which they have to take care of. Not to forget , the prince in a white horse who comes and takes away all the troubles is part of many fables and stories, which we as girls grow up with.
Though we were all fed from each corner about the marriage proposition, not to forget Bollywood and Television playing an important part, there happened something that no one in the eighties or early nineties could think of. India started changing. And the good news is that it still is. Though we are at the nascent stage, yet we see that nothing that was once in place and order is the same. New economic reforms swept the country; India was no more a country of snake charmers or the mystic land of Kama-Sutra but a country where foreign companies started investing. The term IT became a name that was plastered all across the news and suddenly the new generation of woman had many doors opening up to them, and with economic freedom, they were no longer dependent on anyone to provide them with their needs. Now they can decide to stay single or wait till they find the right partner to spend their lives with.
Though India is changing, the old hold of patriarchy has still not given its way. Once a girl is 25 plus it’s not an easy life.Read Full Article
Though India is changing, the old hold of patriarchy has still not given its way. Once a girl is 25 plus it’s not an easy life.
As a single parent of a daughter, this mom is proud of her child's pride in her as a writer, and would rather be called a 'parent', eschewing the expected pedestal that comes with being a mother in India.
As a single parent of a daughter, this mom is proud of her child’s pride in her as a writer, and would rather be called a ‘parent’, eschewing the expected pedestal that comes with being a mother in India.
“But kids don’t stay with you if you do it right. It’s the one job where, the better you are; the more surely you won’t be needed in the long run.” ― Barbara Kingsolver, award winning American writer.
I remember going to a daycare as a young child. One day, there was an inspection, and one of the visiting officials, a bespectacled senior lady asked, “So kids, what do you want to become when you grow older?” The answers ranged from astronaut, puppeteer, to the usual teacher, doctor, and when it was my turn, in my typical loud and strident voice even as a 5 years old, I said- “Mother!”