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Do we really need to follow all traditions?
I have often wondered are all customs and traditions worthy of following? Should we accept them merely because they have been followed from a long time, say centuries? Not all traditions are based on correct principles! Maybe they were justified according to that age. However, this does not mean all practices are unacceptable and mere fallacies.
For example, marriage is an institution which is ancient but mandatory in a civil society. In India, family continues to be most important and the central point of society. Man is a social animal and he wants love and protection, and this a family can provide. However, the rituals and customs involved in an Indian marriage are far from peaceful and comfortable. Arranged marriages have a lot of clumsy and redundant practices. From the very initial stage of selecting a bride, marriage ceremony to delivery of first born, the rituals are farfetched. Why can’t we curtail some of the rituals? Why can’t we cut down on exorbitant expenses that the bride’s parents have to incur? Nowadays, girls are well educated and well placed! So aren’t they at par with the grooms?
Why do we still feel boys are superior to girls? But tradition stipulates marriage expenses be borne by the girl’s parents. Is there any rationality in such practices?
Only men are considered ideal caretakers of their parents. Remember Shravan Kumar from the Ramayana. He is quoted as the ideal son, who carried for his aged parents and carried them in two baskets over his shoulders. But that does not mean women are incapable of caring for their parent! In fact, women make better caretakers. They are patient, understanding and loving. Daughters generally feel great love for their parents.
Parents of girls are often left in the lurch in their old age. Is it not the child’s duty to take care of them? Recently, the Bombay High court declared that married women can also take care of their parents. This is an encouraging step towards women’s equality.
At the home front… housework, cooking and child care are the accountability of the woman. That is again an age-old tradition. The kitchen is the domain of the lady of the house, even if she is employed and goes out to work. The situation is changing and more and more men are helping their wives in domestic chores but that is minuscule.
Another most tragic custom is the stigma attached to a widow especially, if she is young. We are in the 21st century but our beliefs are still in the ancient era. Widows are still considered inauspicious and prevented from attending auspicious ceremonies like marriages, naming of babies and festivals. When I got married, my mother, a widow, watched my marriage rituals from a distance. The treatment for a widower man is different. When a man loses his wife, he is once again a prospective groom!
People still believe in witches and demons! There are several practices and customs which have no scientific or logical basis. These fallacies are simply followed because they have been in practice from a long time. It is time women fought to eradicate such social beliefs.
Image is a still from the movie Devdas
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