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‘Kalmuhi’ To ‘Karamjali’ Why Do Women Curse Other Women Especially When Expressing Anger?

Posted: August 22, 2020

From calling women names to cursing them a life of bad-luck, it is an interesting phenomenon of women cursing other women, especially their DILs.

Cursing. I am sure most of us have experienced it at some point of time in our lives. It, undoubtedly, is an inherent part of our social life, and most importantly Indian womenfolk are past masters in the art. Surprisingly, men seldom curse, rather they fight it out to settle scores.

What causes cursing? The formula is simple.

Imagine you’ve cheated someone, fleeced them of their money, cancelled an important meeting or even hijacked a suitable matrimonial alliance for their family. If it is any of these, you will surely find a volley of expletive and curses coming your way!

They are branded and cursed for everything they do

Curses or the expressions of ill-will are best portrayed in Bollywood movies. You hear irate housewives and old women screaming, ‘tera bada gark ho’ (may your life be ruined) or ‘tere muh mein keede padein (may your mouth be filled with insects) At times they even say things like tera jeev javal jaaye (May you have blisters on your tongue) or kutte ki maut marega (You’d die a dog’s death) which works for both genders.

Often it is the Indian bahu who becomes target for such curses. The most common lexicon by the quintessential moms-in-law include kalmuhi (the bringer of bad luck) or kulachhani (Ill omen) or even karamjali (Ill-fated or worthless) In case the DIL is ‘insolent,’ ‘rude,’ or even someone who dares ‘to answer back,’ they are branded with any of these words.

They are branded kulta or badchalan (essentially, slut) if they are found to be over-friendly with men who aren’t their husbands. Even a simple query like, ‘where are you?’ may assume the form of ‘kahan jaa ke mar gayi?’ 

Abusive enough?

The list of curses in every language is never ending

Like all the other languages, my mother-tongue Bangla too has its own set of women-centric expletives. Some go like, bidhoba hobi kaak shokune chinre khaaabe (You will be widowed and crows and vultures or lecherous men will shred you to pieces)

I recall how this used to be my late mother-in-law’s favourite tagline whenever she was in war mode. She could not direct it at me as her son was involved!

Paradoxically therefore she targeted my mother for bringing me up so badly and ruining the peace in her family. Sadly, it boomeranged on her as she left this world three years after her spouse!

The list is chockablock with more colloquial phrases. May leprosy strike you, may gout cripple you, your tongue will rot and fall out, you will die barren, pestilence will turn your body into carrion and the list goes on.

And why does it still continue?

Thus, on it goes. Day in and day out, year after year. This phenomenon is rampant in well educated and affluent families too. Ponder this: negative emotions and curses or evil wishes emanating are common in all societies.

In modern times four letter cuss words are used even in the most advanced nations of all. But verbal cursing and abusing certainly takes the cake. And we pride ourselves on being part of an ancient civilisation? From a psychological angle, such crude, decidedly vulgar phrases depict subtle violence, frustration and a morbid state of mind.

For a change wouldn’t it be better to try and be little more tolerant? Wrong doers certainly ought to be taken to task, but verbal cursing is unlikely to deliver the goods.

What is worse is the fact that the cursed individuals may be gripped by fear and spend agonising days, lest the curse come true. Last but not the least you end up tarnishing your own image and generating dismay and disgust in the minds of people around you.

Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Sau Din Saans Ke

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