Thursday, March 21, 2013


On a recent trip to Rajasthan, through pockets of Haryana and then in two major Rajasthan towns I was suddenly surrounded by a lot of veiled women.The faces,the personalities all shrouded only a shadow visible.A human being whose face is supposed to be covered most of the time in the name of shame and family honour will never experience any kind of self-worth.

This reminded me of a post on Facebook a few days ago

For reasons religious or otherwise girls as young as three on the streets,face and head fully covered in the sweltering Thar heat on a crowded street did not look one bit comfortable or normal,constantly adjusting  rather struggling with their ghoonghats every now and then.

The big debates on TV channels and in literary circles about WOMEN EMPOWERMENT seem so hypocritical and farcical when you realise that  here probably nothing has changed for hundreds of years and and it doesn't look like changing for better some time soon.

How do you then blame the women beggars seeking alms wishing men success in business and work, wealth and health ( saheb tumhare kaam mein barqat ho,allah tumhe sehat bakhshe,tarraki de)
and wishing women the usual May you bear a son ! (Khuda tumahri jholi mein laal deve)

The truth is that for these women and hundreds of other women like them and their daughters there is no life,no future other than being the mother of a son.

A few decades ago a lot of daughters and daughter-in-laws like my mother only had to cover their heads and not faces and they considered it to be a huge favor done to them by their in-laws.They never even questioned why they needed to be BEHIND A VEIL.

During Navaratras and Kanjak my father never allowed me to got to any home to be worshiped as a little Devi?( This being a common ritual all over North India),and I resented it then because all other little girls got some goodies and seemed to enjoy the attention.

When I grew up I understood his logic of not allowing the same society and people to worship me for a day which would pity my parents the rest of the year for not having a son and felt sorry for me for not having a brother.Today the rule remains the same for my daughter and I hope one day she would understand my reason.

Me and a lot of my friends have had short hair for many years,at the risk of being called PAR KATI (refer to Sharad Yadav,a prominent politician inside the parliament during the debate over women reservation bill.)

We have never covered our heads or faces in our growing up years or after marriage and have preferred to carry our notions of decency and respect only in our minds and not in direct proportion to the length of our ghoonghats.

Most of us also don't feel the need to carry the other symbols of an Indian woman's married status-bichiya,sindoor,bindi,manglasutra, much to the ire of  the rigid minded traditionalists,and to add to that our husbands are not so-and-so's papa or sunte ho ji. We liberally use the beautiful first names their parents gave them.

We do not give up our maiden names leading to more raised eyebrows,because we believe that being married we are not dead or reborn,hence we do not need to dilute our identity just expand it to include our spouses.

Oh God ! so much of revolt to handle in homes!

But I believe all of these are such small but huge changes that need to happen in homes all over,in streets where we force our women to be veiled and be marginalized but do not sensitize our men to be respectful and tolerant of a woman as an equal human No more than them,no devi and no less than them as well.In religious places or ceremonies in homes where men are supposed to participate and women just watch and slog in the kitchens.

This post is part of a contest CELEBRATING GIRLS,CELEBRATING WOMEN

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The Human Bean Cafe, Ontario

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