Kisiki Amaanat?

vivah

The title of this post, literally translated would mean – Whose trust / custody / safekeeping ?

In a typical wedding scene in  Indian cinema , one would find either of these 2 scenarios –

1. The father of the bride telling the father-in-law that ” Aap ki Amaanat aaj aapko saump raha hoon”. Meaning – I’m today giving the custody of the bride to you, who was  with me for safekeeping , but belonged to you all this time.

2. The father of the bride telling the father-in-law that ” Meri amaanat ka khayaal rakhiyega”. Meaning – Please take care of my daughter whose custody I’m now giving to you.

One might believe that the first dialogue might merely be said to please the father-in-law. But actually, that is not entirely true. From the moment a girl is born, the parents start dreaming of her marriage. She is groomed all through, told not to play in the sun so that she makes a ‘fair’ bride someday, taught not to talk in a disrespective manner, given lessons of cooking, sewing etc. (Not that any of this is wrong, but the fact that none such training is given to the deity sons).

So, basically she is brought up by her birth parents, with the thinking that she doesn’t really belong to them, as they’ll have to hand her over to her in-laws someday, and they only have her custody until then.

As regards the second dialogue, it only reflects the concern of the father of the bride, which is indeed pleasing to know. But, the repercussions are felt by the girl in her matrimonial home, where her in-laws considering her to be the belonging of another house, which is in their custody, might take her to be a liability.

There are many disturbing aspects of this, I shall proceed in ascending order.

The first question obviously is – akhir kiski amaanat ?.. , After all, whose trust is she ? .. Secondly, why is she considered merely as a trust ?  and, if the contradictions of the first two dialogues happen to prevail from both sides, she might end up without a sense of belongingness at all ! Also,  If we look at the bigger picture, the fact that she is equated with movable property, or if human considered to be of the same mental capacity as a child (Custody in divorce cases) is also very disturbing. From times immemorial, women have been considered to be a part of the spoils of war just like cattle . This must end, and by “this” I mean the sense of “ownership” over women which is prevalent so much so that her own parents consider her a property. I will not limit myself to telling what must end, and therefore, go on to say that what must prevail instead is independence for women with a sense of belongingness .

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INDIAN GIRLS AND WOMEN

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Often we find Indian men of a certain class proudly proclaiming that ‘sharam’ is what distinguishes ‘their’ Indian women from any women in this world, i.e ‘Sharam aurat ka gehna hai’ (Shyness is like the jewelry that beautifies a woman).

I laid emphasis on ‘their’ in the first line because of the sense of possession  that these men need to have (again) on ‘their’ women. Manusmriti preaches that ‘Women and cattle should be treated alike’. But hey, our ancestors were smart enough not to take this too literally. The women were made to feel good about it ! 

Their movement was checked with anklets, their hands tied down with bangles, their noses and ears pierced just like those of the cattle (There’s a belief that piercing certain points in the body helps to keep the person in control). Their necks burdened with necklaces, with vermilion or bindi on the foreheads to brand them married, and the head (sometimes face too) covered with their saree. Then, they were told that they look beautiful. 

Thought of as dumb as the cattle, they were trained just like it too. Trained to follow the orders, to never object to anything, to simply keep enduring if any harm was caused to her. Then, she was appreciated for being obedient and docile.

Never taught any vocation to earn her own livelihood, she was made to be dependent on men. Quoting Manu again, “In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, and when her lord is dead, to her sons; a woman must never be independent.”

In addition, if the father didn’t marry off her daughter before puberty, it was believed that he committed a sin with her (Disgusted?). So, the chain goes like this, first, child marriage, simultaneously of course the dowry, then early unhealthy pregnancies, with concurrent and unending harassment at the matrimonial home, which is aggravated if she doesn’t give birth to a boy and in case the husband dies, she’s blamed for bringing bad luck and discarded by the society. 

Shockingly, this mentality and this mindset still exists in the modern Indian society. Forget about the rural areas, even urban areas are plagued by it. As Dr. Ambedkar rightly remarked, ” No civilized society of today presents more survivals of primitive times than does the Indian society.” 

Unfortunately, the positive aspects of our primitive times are eroding fast, while the negative ones seem to be undying ! It’s time for the Indian women to give up their shyness and rise to the occasion. Sharam humara gehna nahi, humari bediyan hain, inhe tod daalna hai !(Shyness is not our jewelry, it’s the shackles that we must breakthrough)