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Why are daughters-in-law constantly expected to be sanskaari and make sacrifices for their family while forgetting their own likes and dislikes?
As a sanskaari woman, the daughter-in-law is constantly expected to maintain good harmony between the family members as it’s ‘her job.’ As soon as a man and woman get hitched, the desires raise their heads high and standards are applied to the woman, never the man (obviously)
The sanskaari tag is a label applied to the girl as soon as she enters her marital home. As an Indian bahu, she is expected to act maturely, know everything right from the beginning.
She is encouraged to acknowledge all the standards, morals, norms and ethics of her ‘new family’ while following the patriarchal system. The bahu is indirectly encouraged to overlook the family who raised her with love and warmth and make her new family her ‘everything.’
A priority check is the first in the row of the awful circumstances that the daughter-in-law faces. Women are made to believe that the men in their lives are the most important and need the first priority.
This begins right from their childhood, with their fathers and siblings and later flows into their marital homes too. A woman prioritising herself is rarely seen in traditional Indian families.
I often wonder why life takes a turn when a girl becomes a daughter-in-law. Being a married woman is equivalent to being joint at the hip with ‘modifying’ and ‘changing’ herself.
Is it easy to do that? To leave your family and home and move to a new place where you need to think twice before you look for a spot to sit and breathe? Is it easy to find a place in your marital home where you will not be judged?
And the place you’d be judged the harshest is the kitchen. As a newly-married woman, your cooking abilities have to be at par with having a graduate degree of even a PhD in it! The bahu is supposed to keep in mind the preferences and likes of everyone in the family. And yet, she will never be able to cook as well as her mother-in-law does!
Regardless of her own likes and inclinations, she needs to comply with the decisions of the family members. And if she accidentally ignores any of these, she is termed ‘arrogant’ or ‘haughty’ by everyone.
She doesn’t just need to keep the family matters constantly resolved and keep calm but also to tune in and disregard what has been said to her. The harshness of the words shouldn’t matter to her. As a daughter-in-law, she needs to stay quiet and endure the sisters-in-law and satisfy their obligations too!
The movie Baahubali is a very good example of the battles that daughters-in-law go through. It is an ideal trailer of the war between two resilient women. A married Indian couple’s life is no less than this, especially if they live in an orthodox Indian family.
For an Indian girl, being as adored as a son-in-law is a mere fantasy. The privileged treatment a son-in-law gets is something a daughter-in-law can never imagine getting.
Things would be better for a daughter-in-law if there’s a parallel respect from both sides. It is easy to say that a daughter-in-law is like a daughter but is it just as easy to treat her as one’s daughter? That the statement includes the word ‘like,’ makes all the difference.
Author’s note: While several in-laws are not like the ones I have mentioned above, this article is just a common perspective of mine which isn’t meant to offend anyone.
A version of this was first published here.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Thappad
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