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We recently bid farewell to one of the most respected Prime Ministers – Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The lighting of the pyre by his daughter was a bold step away from old traditions.
It’s the inevitable duty of every legendary personality to make an impact on society, with exemplary ways of leading their lives. Always being under the spotlight and the media’s constant scrutiny, the world would be watching and deriving motivation from them.
Former Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was one such individual who led a commendable life with immense contributions made to the country. His family must be appreciated for taking the initiative to set an example on behalf of this highly regarded men, even in his final journey of life.
Walking away from the generally accepted Hindu traditions of cremation by male heirs only, it was Namita Bhattacharya, Vajpayee’s daughter by adoption, who lit his funeral pyre, rather than any other male family members. She was also accompanied by her daughter Niharika who received the folded tricolour flag that was draped over her grandfather.
Two women being in the forefront, strongly handling their emotions and continuing to do the necessary rituals, has indeed delivered a very powerful message of gender equality to the entire nation.
Even till date, at many places women are not allowed to enter a crematorium or be a part of the funeral rites of their loved ones. The reasons are still unknown but assumptions are many. Women were considered weak and incapable of dealing with the horrors of death. Also, they were termed as easy targets of ghosts and bad spirits. Yes, that’s indeed ridiculous! The ‘men with brave hearts’ would perform all the last rites for the departed souls while women stayed back at home and took care of their family, children and guests.
According to ancient Indian traditions, which are highly patriarchal, it is strongly believed that sons are the connection between this world and heaven. It’s only they who could relieve the dead souls from the constant cycle of birth and death and provide eternal salvation, or ‘moksha’.
Even if no male member existed in the immediate family, distant relatives were given a chance to do the cremation but not wives and daughters.
This age old practice is still being followed. But when given a choice, Vajpayee’s family has taken a bold step forward. The entire nation was watching them as Vajpayee had no family of his own but a daughter by adoption alone. The mark that they have made with their actions would definitely motivate more and more people to change their unexamined beliefs in this country.
Image source: Video
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Apart from being the Associate Editor at Women's Web, where I get to read,
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