Don’t Miss Out On Any of Our Best Reads, and Contests. Register Now!

Mandira’s Decision To Do Husband’s Last Rites Is Inspiring, But Did Anything Truly Change?

Posted: July 3, 2021

Explore the exquisite magic of Alcohol Ink Art. You will learn how to make beautiful abstract art, patterns like ripples and ridges. Learn Alcohol Ink art with Piyusha Vir

Mandira exercised her right to send off her partner the way she chose, and has inspired many; but will it intrinsically change anything in brahminical patriarchal?

Mandira Bedi cut a powerful figure leading the funeral procession as the karta-dharta. A role that ritualistically belongs exclusively to the oldest male progeny. Savarnas believe that moksha is attained and/or the ancestors are pleased only when the male heir sends them off on the onward journey, knowing that he’s there continuing their lineage on earth.

Mandira, the empathetic mother that she is, did not wish to subject her small son to the somewhat gruesome task of cremating a man who had been his father till the day before.

Mandira’s grief and strength was palpable

I feel happy for Mandira Bedi, that she stood her ground, exercised her right to protect her son and to send off her partner the way she chose. Her grief and her strength were palpable and one couldn’t help feeling moved. And maybe she even inspired other women to send off their loved ones similarly, equal to sons. In a country where the male heir is a prized acquisition, it seemed like a revolutionary move on part of women like Mandira Bedi and Diya Mirza who was pregnant at the time of her marriage and chose to have a woman priest performing the rituals.

But equality between men and women is not the only thing to fight for and if it is, it is a very limited one in our country. Feminism is not about aspiring to become like men or demanding equality within the very narrow constraints of the gender binary.

But should we support a ritual that is about brahminical patriarchy?

Who is the primary Oppressor here? Religion and brahmanical patriarchy. The same religion that is extremely oppressive when insisting on small boys performing the rituals of death at an age when death itself is an abstract concept.

And yet, that Mandira or Diya can do these things itself is a privilege of socio-economic-geographic location. The crematorium workers will still remain the lowest, most oppressed of castes and the priests will still remain brahmin. No revolutionary movement there. It doesn’t matter if you remove kanyadaan and think you are a great reformer when the oppressed castes are not allowed to have a fire at their rituals.

An upper caste woman can do these revolutionary, yet tokenistic things, look badass, have the title of feminist of the year conferred onto to them and give Ted Talks on dismantling patriarchy. But nothing will change for anyone other than themselves. In another part of the country perhaps even in Mandira’s home state of Maharashtra, a marginalised woman would be brutalised/killed for even attempting this. We all have to ultimately fight to dismantle religion in its entirety and not ask for these concessional, incremental changes. Let’s not ask to do oppressive rituals, let’s end these rituals.

Liked this post?

Register at Women's Web to get our weekly mailer and never miss out on our events, contests & best reads! Or - get a couple of really cool reads on your phone every day - click here to join our Telegram channel.

Exciting workshops coming up soon!

Resume Building & LinkedIn Profile Optimisation with Chaitra; 30th July: Debunking resume myths, elements of an effective resume, resume templates and customization and more!

Career Counselling for Students with Aesha Shah: Get 2 sessions of career counselling at a convenient time

New Mother Support Group with Sirisha Ramanand, Aug 5th: safe and judgement free space for working mothers of young children

When less is more - Writing effective micro-fiction with Anupama Dalmia, Aug 8th: This workshop will help you hone the craft of writing memorable stories in a few words.

Learn Alcohol Ink art with Piyusha Vir; 4th & 5th September:; Explore the exquisite magic of Alcohol Ink Art and create beautiful art decor pieces to beautify your home

Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views. Individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times. If you have a complementary or differing point of view, sign up and start sharing your views too!

Hema Gopinathan left a blight of a corporate career to homeschool her two children. A

Learn More

Women of VMware - Meet Afifa Hasan, Enterprise Sales Account Manager for VMware India

Comments

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

Vaahini- A Network For Women Empowerment