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As a country that takes its traditions seriously, India has certain ‘traditions’ that aren’t Indian! Let me tell you which ones these are!
As a nation, we are making progress and fighting to end certain evil practices still prevalent in society. However, there are a lot of people who choose to defend these practices that are bound by patriarchy and certain regressive notions.
People often argue that these practices are a part of the traditions of Indian society and have been so for a long time. And that these practices form the crux of several beliefs and people’s ideas.
But here I have a few examples that prove this theory of belief wrong.
While this is still an integral part of our ‘culture’ even today, what we fail to understand is that this custom didn’t really originate in India. What is considered an important ‘custom’ even by the most religious people, has its roots in medieval times and became rampant during the British era.
It says in this report that the practice finds its origin back in Eurasia, not in India where it is still a ‘custom.’ Apparently, the Portuguese influence was resisted when the island of Bombay was given as dowry to the British Prince after he married a Portuguese princess.
All a part of Indian ‘culture,’ isn’t it?
The origins of Sati can be dated back to the Gupta Empire. However, Megasthenes during 300BC found no evidence of Sati. Incidents and proof, however, appears in Nepal.
The most recorded evidence is found from the medieval times yet again and Rajasthan was the place with the most number of Sati cases. However, we may observe that Hinduism is much older and hence, this tradition was nowhere involved in the religion.
The evil practice is said to have originated in China more than 2000 years ago. In India, the practise mainly appeared due to the fear of dowry leading people killing or abandoning their female infants. With the advent of ultrasonography, the practice increased even further, making India seem even more regressive than it already was.
On the one hand, most Indians, have now become quite modern in their thoughts and beliefs. However, on the other, even our epics show us how obsessed we were with having a male heir. Let me give you an example –
In the great epic Mahabharata, after Vichatravirya’s death, his elder brother Rishi Vyas fathered his sons with his two wives. He was, for all intents and purposes, their foster father.
However, the concept of the first-born son getting the rights to their father’s property originated in the Roman and British empires. In certain Indian kingdoms, the women stood to inherit their father’s kingdoms after their death. Who would’ve thought that a foreign concept would potentially ruin the lives of women across India!
We are all familiar with the concept of Swayamwar, aren’t we? It was an Indian concept that allowed women to choose their own partners. Both Ramayana and the Mahabharata gave its women the right to choose their own partners. Even our Vedas mention eight different types of marriage systems. And the Vedas are a major part of the Indian culture!
Then, why are so many of the marriages in India arranged marriages? Why are they still held as the ‘right thing’ to do? Did you know that the concept of arranged marriages is a foreign one too? Ironically, it was the Mughal rules who began this tradition to celebrate the uniting of two different cultures and rulers.
Do you remember learning about the caste system in school? Did you learn about the four varnas and how they divided people? Was the division on the basis of the Dasyus or the Aryans? Or was it based on people’s skin colour and the colonies in the US?
Wouldn’t we all find it absolutely absurd if Lata Mangeshkar was asked not to sing but to do something else, instead? Or if Sachin Tendulkar was asked to go be a farmer instead of playing cricket?
The caste system was never written in any of our holy texts or epics, in none of the religions across the world. Similarly, the division between the ‘classes’ is not written in any of the texts. As for Manusmriti, let us leave that subject for a later discussion!
The Indian civilisation can be dated back to the Indus valley civilasation whose construction and brick work continue to amaze us. However, the evil practices I’ve mentioned above only managed to creep into our traditions and have managed to stay. A new India needs to move forward and shed its regressives and repressive attitudes once and for all.
Picture credits: Still from Hindi TV series Ghum Hain Kiskay Pyaar Mein
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