How Motherhood Metamorphosed In Indian Media And Culture

Explore evolving motherhood in India—tradition to modern challenges. Media, culture, and the push for diversity and equality shape the dynamic narrative.

Explore the dynamic evolution of motherhood in Indian society, from traditional roles to modern challenges, as portrayed in media and culture. Embracing diversity, and promoting equality for future generations.

Motherhood has long held a revered place in Indian society, symbolizing love, sacrifice, and nurturing care. The representation and role of mothers in India are deeply interwoven with cultural norms, societal expectations, and changing gender dynamics.

This article delves into the portrayal of mothers in Indian culture and examines how these roles are intertwined with prevailing gender perspectives.

Tradition unveiled: the historical ties of maternal duties

In traditional Indian society, mothers were confined to the domestic sphere, responsible for child-rearing, household chores, and maintaining family harmony. This role, while deemed virtuous, sometimes led to an unrealistic idealization of motherhood, blurring the lines between being a human and a deity.

The media often perpetuated this notion, such as the character Anupamaa in the TV serial “ANUPAMAA,” who embodies the selfless mother archetype. This portrayal inadvertently reinforced the idea that a woman’s identity primarily revolves around her maternal duties.

Anupamaa TV series

However, as modernization and urbanization took root, women’s roles evolved. More women entered the workforce, pursued education, and broke free from traditional confines. Mothers are now seen as multidimensional individuals who balance nurturing with contributing to the economy. Yet, challenges persist.

Women are criticized for prioritizing themselves, as seen in the film “Shakuntala Devi,” where the protagonist grapples with guilt when choosing her career over exclusive motherhood.

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Media plays a pivotal role in shaping perceptions. Traditional media typically portrayed mothers as selfless beings, sacrificing for their families. Modern media, exemplified by “English Vinglish,” depicts mothers pursuing personal aspirations alongside familial responsibilities. This shift underscores that mothers have dreams beyond their roles.

From deities to diversity

Indian culture’s diversity also influences the role of mothers. In some communities, mothers are revered as goddesses, but this reverence can overshadow their individual aspirations. Balancing cultural reverence with recognizing women’s autonomy is essential for gender equality.

Devi’s worship in Hinduism exemplifies this, potentially burdening mothers with unrealistic expectations. The joint family tradition places extensive responsibilities on mothers, potentially limiting their personal growth and career prospects.

Despite progress, gender inequality and limited access to opportunities persist, burdening mothers who navigate societal norms alongside nurturing families. Gender-sensitive policies are crucial to dismantling these barriers, acknowledging the multifaceted roles mothers fulfil.

India’s evolving landscape showcases a shift in gender views. The younger generation embraces progressive outlooks, challenging traditional gender roles. Fathers’ increased involvement in parenting highlights a departure from the notion that child-rearing solely belongs to mothers.

This shift signifies a broader societal awakening to shared responsibilities in nurturing families, empowering women beyond traditional roles.

New archetypes are reshaping motherhood on screen

Tumhari Sulu

In recent years, Indian popular culture has introduced new mother archetypes that challenge traditional stereotypes and mirror evolving societal norms. These include the Career-Oriented Mother, as portrayed by Vidya Balan’s character in “Tumhari Sulu,” who adeptly balances her professional life with motherhood.

The Single Mother, as seen in films like “Panga” with Kangana Ranaut, showcases the journey of single mothers pursuing their dreams while navigating parenthood solo.

Characters like Ratna Pathak Shah’s portrayal in “Lipstick Under My Burkha” embody the Unconventional Mother archetype, breaking societal norms by embracing their desires post-motherhood.

Additionally, the Tech-Savvy Mother, represented by Kajol’s character in “Helicopter Eela,” highlights how mothers use technology to monitor and connect with their children in the digital age.

These evolving mother archetypes in Indian popular culture reflect the shifting roles and expectations of mothers in contemporary society, promoting diversity and challenging traditional molds.

As India journeys towards inclusivity and cooperation, embracing diverse roles for mothers and promoting gender equality becomes imperative. By doing so, India paves the way for a balanced society that respects both women’s aspirations and the essential roles fathers play in child-rearing.

This transformation reflects a nation evolving towards understanding and equality, fostering a just society for generations to come.


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Image source: YouTube, edited on CanvaPro

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