She is of “marriageable” age. We want to get her married “off”.

It’s a typically Indian scenario, no matter what caste or creed it is.

Young daughter is in the house. She has attained “marriageable” age. Worried parents go around town, frantically seeking a suitable match.

“You’re already 23”, they wail. “Who will marry you?”, they cry. “Look at your cousin. She already has a brood of three children”.  And on and on, ad nauseum.

“But I have plans of my own. I want to have my own life, my own career”, screams the daughter. “Tell that to your husband”, retort the parents.

And so, as it has happened in millions of homes across India, and to millions of hapless Indian women, parents win, daughter capitulates, marriage is enforced, children are born, children need to be raised “properly” by the hapless wife, children grow up, get married, children leave home.

And caught in between her husband’s bodily needs and her children’s chronic demands, the daughter’s life is finished.

I’ve seen it happen over and over again. And I will continue to see it happen over and over again. Either the daughter accepts her fate, and leads a bitter and unfulfilled life till her death. Or she tries to fight for her life, opts for a messy divorce, and still leads a bitter and unfulfilled life.

In the process, everybody loses – especially the parents who forced their daughter into a marriage she did not want.

All because we think that there is such a thing as a “marriageable” age for Indian women. In many parts of our country, girls still get married off at puberty. And if you think that child marriages occur in some remote parts of India, you’re dead wrong. They happen right here in the Silicon Valley of India, Bangalore. Every single day.

So. What is the right age for an Indian woman to get married?
Answer: There isn’t one.

Arguably, there is, in general, a right time in a woman’s life to bear children. But that’s a wide time period, ranging across two decades of a healthy woman’s life span.

Obviously, the age of fifteen is far too young, and perhaps forty-five is too old in biological terms. That doesn’t mean that the age of twenty two is the only correct age, and that a woman should be willy-nilly impregnated as soon as possible.

Since she is the one who alone has to bear the consequences (quite literally), I’d say it is solely a woman’s right to decide when she gets a husband and thence, when and how many children she has.

And it’s not as if Indian men have a picnic either. We get screwed too.

I became a husband and a father at too young an age. Mind you, I was the right biological age, but I just wasn’t ready. No stable job, no money, no firm roof on my head. Ironically, I was the one who was forced into fatherhood by my wife at that time, who in turn felt, at the age of 23, she was getting too “old”.

And her parents in turn, started loudly wondering if I was really a “man” – and if I was physically incapable of impregnating their fecund daughter.

The net result was a total disaster. I lost the daughter who was born from that reluctant union, to a vicious divorce twenty years ago. I will never see her again.

You see? Indian men get screwed too, because of this foolish notion of the “right” age.

So. When does an Indian woman (or any other woman, for that matter) get married?
When her time is right.

And when is her time right? When her career priorities are right, when her mind is right, when her finances are right – and when her heart is right.

And of course, when the right man comes along – assuming one such exists.

My point of view – first studies, then career, then money, and then marriage.

If you don’t want to have kids, that’s just fine. Be clear about it, focus on your work and your self, and don’t bother about what the world thinks. Let tongues wag, even if those tongues belong to your own parents and relatives. It’s your life.

If you do want to have kids, then be even more clear about it. First get your finances in order. At today’s prices, you will need at least Rs. ONE CRORE to bring a child into this world and bring up that child to adulthood, in a reasonably comfortable lifestyle and with a reasonably good education.

Don’t believe me? Do that math yourself. Starting from conception, to maternity, to childbirth, growing pains, medical issues, school, college, smartphone, laptop, two-wheeler, internet, graduation.

Rs. One crore it is. Per child.  Not counting marriage expenses.

Or, keep that one crore to yourself, and have a royal, worry-free life for yourself. Your choice.

Call me old-fashioned. But the institution of marriage is the cornerstone of Indian culture. Call me medieval. But a happy wife is the bedrock of a happy marriage.

An unhappy wife will be an unhappy mother. An unhappy mother will bring unhappy children into this world.

Everybody loses.

It’s just that simple.

Think twice, think thrice, and then think again, before you make an unhappy mother of your own daughter.

Daughters are not meant to be married “off”.

Srini.

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Diwali … get your fundas right!

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I’ve always wondered … why do most of our festivals celebrate somebody’s death?

It’s usually about some demon who obtains special powers or advanced weaponry by propitiating various Gods. He then goes on a global killing and looting spree, thereby becoming a major nuisance to the general public and incurring the wrath of the same Gods who gave him all those powers in the first place. Invariably, a mighty battle follows between said demon and said Gods, and our unfortunate demon is decapitated, eviscerated and dismembered, as a stern example to other demons with divine ambitions.

And we mortals rejoice, abandon our work, release malodorous fireworks into the atmosphere, eat and drink lustily, burn a lot of money, and generally celebrate the triumph of ‘good’ over ‘evil’.

Yet, most people won’t even know the name of the demon whose death they celebrate.

So it is with Deepavali.  When asked, most of my friends give me a vague reply. Something to do with Lakshmi puja or Lord Rama or something, they tell me, before rushing off to buy Chinese firecrackers at cheap rates – and stocking up on booze.

If you wish to celebrate a festival, then do it right.

Herewith then, some Diwali fundas …

Diwali is always celebrated during the last six days of  Ashvina and the first day of Kartika, these two being the sixth and seventh months in the Hindu calendar. This corresponds to end-October/early November.

This year, 2018, that period is between Nov 4th and November 9th.

Diwali is perhaps the oldest of the Indian festivals. In some form or the other, India has celebrated Diwali since the past five thousand years at least.

Diwali is not one festival.  It commemorates six separate events from Vedic history.  Over the ages, these six festivals merged into one major festival.

The 12th day of Ashvina-Shuklapaksha, is Govatsa Dwadashi. As you can figure out from the name, this day is dedicated to cows and calves. Those who celebrate Govatsa Dvadashi perform a puja for their cows and do not consume milk products on this day, This year, Govatsa Dvadashi falls on Nov 4th.

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Dhanvantari, at Art of Living Ashram, Bangalore. Note the leech in his right hand.

The 13th day of the dark half of Ashvina, i.e. Krishnapaksha Trayo-dashi, is the birthday of Dhanvanatri, the celestial physician who appeared during Sagaramanthan, the churning of the ocean. Hence it is called Dhantrayodashi.

People up North also believe that Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth,  is in a benevolent mood on this particular day. People light lamps through the night, in the hope that Lakshmi pays them a visit. For this reason, this day is also called Dhanteras.

This year, Dhanteras falls on November 5th.

Medical professionals who consider Dhanvantari as their patron god may perform a Dhanvantari puja on this day.

Some others prefer to gamble on this day, in the belief that if they win on Dhanteras they keep winning through the year. They usually lose heavily.

In some parts of west and north India, it is believed that evil spirits are at their strongest on this night, and some perform a Hanuman puja.

  • The 14th day of Ashvina-Krishnapaksha, i.e. Chatur-dashi, commemorates the death of Narakasura. The son of Bhoodevi (Mother Earth) and Lord Vishnu in his Varaha (boar) incarnation, Narakasura became a nasty warlord due to special boons given to him by Vishnu himself.

He had to be slain by a later incarnation of Vishnu, i.e., Krishna, or in some versions of the legend, by his wife Satyabhama. Apparently, just before he died, Narakasura requested Krishna and Satyabhama that his death should not be mourned by his subjects, but celebrated with a lot of light and colour.

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Since he was slain just before sunrise, Naraka Chaturdashi is celebrated with bright lights and a lot of noise in the wee hours of the morning – unfortunately.

Narakachaturdashi, or Choti Diwali as it is called up North, falls on November 6th.

There is a belief that anyone who has a bath-cum-oil massage (or Abhyangsnana) before sunrise on Narakachaturdashi will avoid going to hell. Now you know why your grandma would haul you out of bed at an ungodly hour and dunk your head in hot water.

The 15th day, i.e., No moon day or Ashvina Amavasya, marks the day on which Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya with Sita and Lakshmana. Rama slew Ravana on Vijayadashami. After handing over Lanka to Vibhishana, he returned to Ayodhya eighteen days after Vijayadashami. Since it was Amavasya, the darkest night of the month, the residents of Ayodhya lit up the whole city with oil-lamps.

That of course, is why it is called Deepavali.

On this day, the goddess Lakshmi is worshipped, specifically during the evening hours, or Pradosh kaal.

Diwali and Lakshmi puja this year are on November 7th. For those of you who are serious about Lakshmi puja, the correct time is between 18:31 to 20:29.

The next day is the first day of the bright half of Kartika, i.e. Prathami-Shukla paksha. This day is celebrated as Govardhana Puja, to commemorate Krishna’s feat of lifting the entire Govardhan mountain on his finger, to protect his villagers from Indra’s wrath.

In North and West India, this day is also celebrated as Bali Padyami, believed to be the day on which Raja Bali returns from the depths of the underworld and visits his kingdom on earth. In Kerala however, this day is celebrated during the festival of Onam.

Usually, the Gujarati new year also falls on this day or on the day before. Traditional Gujarati businessmen close their account books (or Chopda) and open a new Chopda, with a Chopda puja.bhaubeej

The second day of Kartika, i.e. Kartika Dvitiya is celebrated as Bhau Bheej or Bhaya Duj. According to our scriptures, Yama, god of death, visited his sister Yami on this particular day. Brother and sister were very happy with the visit, and Yama assured his sister that any brother who visits his sister on this day will be blessed with long life.

Hence this day is also called Yama Dvitiya.

For those brothers who are unable to visit their sisters (as am I), prayers offered to Yama by the concerned sisters will suffice.

This then is the six-day festival of Diwali.

Note however, that nowhere and nowhere in the scriptures, does it specify that Diwali must be celebrated by intense air and noise pollution, extreme drunkenness, rowdy behavior and by a vulgar exhibition of wealth.

Have a happy Diwali everyone. And let me have a peaceful Diwali – for a change.

Cheers … Srini.

YouFirst. Then MeToo.


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Hey look, it’s happening again. Aggrieved actress comes out with sensational allegations against an aging actor. And the media goes berserk, as it pounces on the aging actor, who makes weak attempts to defend himself. Media simply ignores his defence. So aging actor takes to the law.

But there’s no point in taking to the law. He has already been tried in the media. Already found guilty. Already crucified.

Done deal. Aggrieved actress receives sympathy and support from everyone. Her alleged oppressor is judged, juried, executed.

Due process? What’s that?
The law? What’s that?
Evidence? What evidence?
Fair trial? What fair trial?
Assumed innocent until proven guilty? Really?

She says he has done it. The media says he has done it. That’s that.

Even if he is exonerated by the law, he will still be held guilty by the media and the public. And condemned forever.

In all this, the real victims are the Truth…and the Law.

Has he really done it? I do not know. I wasn’t there, you see. Were you there? Then how do you know? That’s why we have courts. That’s why we have the Law.

Exploitation of women is a reality in India. Undoubtedly. Not just in the film industry. It happens in the corporate world. And it is prevalent in academics as well. Yes, academics. Doctoral students face the worst of it.

Our movies shamelessly degrade women, and have always done so. Listen carefully to the lyrics of most of the “timeless classics” from our movies, penned by some of the finest songwriters in our country, and you will hear nothing but the gross objectification of women.

Tu cheez badi hai mast, mast“. Literally referring to a woman as an object.
Tera peecha na chodunga soniye“. Stalker’s favorite.
Chandan sa badan“. Your body is like sandalwood. Really?
Pajama thang thang hai“. Your pajamas are tight. Seriously?

And the all-time favorite, “Choli ke peeche kya hai“. What’s inside your blouse?

Watch how our heroes woo their heroines on-screen. Stalking, voyeurism, entrapment, groping, blackmail, physical force. No illegal and immoral efforts are spared, until the hapless heroine has no choice but to give in.

Witness Dharmendra in Pyar hi Pyar as he traps Vyjanthimala in an elevator and forces his attentions on her.

Watch him again in Kahani Kismat Ki, as he literally presses himself on an extremely uncomfortable Rekha, while taking her up on a crane. And goes about yelling ‘Suno, suno, bhaiyo behno‘.  A crane, for heaven’s sake.

Or an overweight Shammi Kapoor in a dressing gown, hanging out of a helicopter, yelling “Aasman se aaya farishta“, at Sharmila Tagore in a swimsuit.

And on and on. Virtually every movie made in India, has a stalking song in it. Or a semi-naked cabaret number. Or a voyeuristic scene.

If this is what happens to women on-screen, then how bad must it be for them off-screen?

That’s why it seems ridiculous that these same people are now shouting MeToo, MeToo.

But yelling MeToo now, no matter how justified it may be, still does not justify trial-by-media and complete disregard for the Law.

Women have several gender-specific laws that they can turn to. Men have none.

So, take to the courts, not to the streets. Otherwise, MeToo becomes a smear campaign that will destroy more innocent men than guilty ones. And paradoxically, will increase crimes against women.

If you’re really serious about MeToo, then first end the objectification of women on-screen, before ranting about what happens to them off-screen.

The Augean stables of Bollywood do need a thorough cleansing, but clean up your own act first, will you? It’s a question of your credibility.

Teapot, black kettle, and all that.

YouFirst. Then MeToo.

Cheers … SKS