Friday, September 16, 2005

Do Indian men have the right to celebrate Rakhi?

Rakhi is an Indian festival which is celebrated in most Indian states barring those in the southern and eastern parts. It usually comes in the month of August. On this day sisters tie a holy thread around the wrists of their brothers and the latter promise to protect their sisters all their lives. It is one of the most beautiful festivals as it celebrates sibling love. Unfortunately this festival has become like a placebo as India is not exactly famous for looking after its womenfolk. Horrific crimes against women are reported everyday. The Supreme Court of India is attempting to correct this gender bias by passing rulings in favour of equal rights to inheritance to both male and female progeny. But the law on paper is very different from what is actually practiced.

So the question arises: Should Rakhi be celebrated at all? Do we deserve to celebrate it? Rakhi is all about brothers taking a vow to protect their sisters. Protect from what? Well, considering how bad we men are sisters do need to be protected. Do they not? Look at the horribly skewed female to male ratio in most Indian states. Punjab, Haryana and the BIMARU belt are badly affected. Gujarat is not far behind. I read reports about Punjabis and Haryanvis buying brides from Bengal and Assam. I read newsreports about girls being coached to act like girls of the Jain community so that they can be 'sold' to the families of prospective grooms as the genuine 'article'. There are newsreports of polyandry in some districts of Punjab and of non-tribals in Gujarat 'buying' tribal girls to marry just because there aren't enough girls of marriageable age. For a change the dowry system seems to have reversed. My mother tells me that she saw a newsreport on the Malayalam channel Asianet about girls from Cannanore district of Kerala marrying Haryanvi boys who came 'down south' in their search for brides. I hope these marraiges do not transform into abusive, violent and exploitative relationships.

The only state which has a healthy female to male sex ratio is Kerala.Ironically, Kerala does not celebrate Rakhi. But Kerala has enough to worry about. I read disturbing reports about unhealthy female to male ratio in the below six years category there. Apparently even the educated, forward-looking Keralite is not immune to pressures when the time comes to marry off his daughter. "Spend five hundred rupees now and save five lakhs twenty years later" that is how the ads for sex determination tests were worded before they were banned. Even the matrilineal Nair community which prides itself on the rights that its women have is succumbing to the menace of dowry. Most educated Indians have read about Mary Roy and her attempts to get equal inheritance rights for daughters in the Syrian Christian community. Her daughter and Booker Prize winning writer Arundhati Roy is also a crusader for womens' rights. Kerala, the state which has produced many talented women writers, artists and sportswomen also has a lot to learn and improve upon before it can call itself a true haven for women.

I can imagine the ghost of an unborn girl coming and telling her brother "I wish there were a rakhi which could protect the unborn female foetus from her own family". Millions of girls killed in the womb. And we take a vow to protect our womenfolk from invaders! If a family has no sons we label the parents unlucky. If a girl is having a bad time at her husband's what are the chances that her parents or brothers are willing to shelter her?

"Throw away those rakhis please" is what millions of unborn female children who were killed in the womb seem to be telling us. Something is indeed rotten in the state of India!


Blogger priyanka said...

Hi I know you have written this at sulekha too & I am reading it & wud post comment then. But bye the way dont you think its getting too unfair from your side for not even showing up at my site for even once??

11:15 AM  
Blogger priyanka said...

Dev this is the sorry tale we have in our present India and most of us dont even bother to talk about it, forget working against it. I think if you get your opinion via neespapers, magazines or Forms can be of help.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Priya Sivan said...

We have adapted foreign culture in celebrating Mother's day, Father's day etc. Why not sister's day and a brother's day? At least let them be reminded of their sisters that particular day :))

4:05 AM  

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