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In the Indian culture fasting and women are often synonymous, especially during festivals. Do women hold so much power that their fasts save lives?
India is a land of diverse cultures and religions. We believe in different Gods, celebrate several festivals and have faith in varied rituals and traditions accompanying different religions.
Over the years, I observed that in the Hindu culture most of the festivals require fasting. Not to generalise, but there still exist some cultures where only the women have to observe a fast.
As I dug further, I realised that women, (who are generally considered weak and incapable of making decisions) have the potential to increase the lifespan of their husbands when they fast. Thus, to increase the age and for a better quality of life for the men, it is necessary for a female to fast.
How come, even then a female is not given equal rights, opportunities & respect is beyond my understanding! If I knew that my life depended on someone else’s actions, I would go to any lengths to make that person feel comfortable and privileged.
What is even more appalling is that it’s only the woman who is asked to observe the fasts. Why can’t either party do it for each other? Or is it that women are given the gift of immortality by God?
Being highly inquisitive, I started researching on this a bit and found out about the supposed history of this. Earlier, when men used to go to wars in far away places, the women would be scared and anxious about their lives. And there was no means of instant communication, since the wars lasted for months or even years. At such times, women would stop eating and spend their time praying as a community for the war to end and the men to come home healthy.
Soon, this practice was manipulated and people started believing that if the woman fasts for her son/husband, there is a chance that their life span increases. I am still unsure about the fast that a sister/daughter is supposed to observe for the long life of her brother or father, respectively.
A lot of Indian societies and cultures have traditions where only the women are supposed to fast for long healthy lives of their sons or husbands. Most of these fasts don’t just require the women to not eat but not even have a sip of water for an entire day!
While some of the fasts last only for a day, there are several fasts that may last for a number of days. And to add to this, in several households, the women who fast are supposed to cook and feed the family, because if not her, then who will!
I am not against women who still follow this belief and observe fasts at the risk of their health since it’s their belief that lets them endure the torturous ritual. However, what I absolutely fail to understand is why these women impose their beliefs on other women who do not approve of these beliefs!
I have often seen women who believe and follow these rituals to go to lengths to criticise women don’t follow the same beliefs. They openly demean the womanhood of the other type. God forbid something happen to the men whose wives don’t fast! They are cursed and made to feel responsible for the illness or even the death of their husbands.
The fact is that we’re all humans and we don’t have the power to increase or decrease anyone else’s lifespan! Women who practice these beliefs need to be patient and be accepting of women don’t want to do so.
Meanwhile, the fact still remains that husbands, or men, in general, still die! And a lot of them do die at a young age and some, after battling an illness. So this concept itself doesn’t hold an religious or scientific validity.
The bottom line here is – just let people be! We are all mature enough to decide what is good for us and for our families. Respect the others’ choices, no matter how they contrast your own.
To the fellow women, please start supporting each other. If we supposedly ‘have the power’ to increase someone else’s life, extending support to other human beings shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Everything begins at home. If you start adapting this culture, the society and in turn, the world, will turn out to be a better place to live in.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham
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Chetan Bhagat had no business slut shaming Uorfi Javed or any other woman. If he wants to 'guide' young men in the 'right direction' then he should take accountability for his words.
Chetan Bhagat, one of India’s bestselling authors, thought it was an ingenious idea to slut-shame Uorfi Javed, an Indian actress and influencer, at the Sahitya Aaj Tak literature festival.
“Phone has been a great distraction for the youth, especially the boys, spending hours just watching Instagram Reels. Everyone knows who Uorfi Javed is. What will you do with her photos? Is it coming in your exams or you will go for a job interview and tell the interviewer that you know all her outfits? On one side, there is a youth who is protecting our nation at Kargil and on another side, we have another youth who is seeing Uorfi Javed’s photos hiding in their blankets.”
Uorfi Javed responded with a video on her Instagram stories calling out Bhagat’s bluff. She shared the screenshots of his previous chat conversations with Ira Trivedi, author and yoga instructor, which came to light during the #MeToo movement.
While boys are taught to naturally own the space they enter, girls are taught to give up, to accommodate, to adjust since "it is their primary responsibility to keep families and relations together."
Yesterday, I was watching these 4 young girls around 16 – 17 years old play badminton. They were having fun, goofing around with all 4 of them equally involved in the game.
In some time two of their male friends joined them, and as part of round robin, the 2 boys replaced two of the girls. All good.
As the play continued, I started noticing a change in the way the game was being played. The shuttle was played most of the times between the two boys and there was a sense of competition and aggression brought in. The other 2 girls playing soon starting losing interest in the game as they hardly got any game time. Even if the shuttle came towards them, the boy in their team would move and play that shot. They soon moved to the sidelines as the boys continued to play.
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