Is woMAN nothing W/o a MAN?

17 Feb

CR’s post triggered lots of thoughts in me and brought back a few memories of my childhood.

To start off with, I hardly had widows in my vicinity as I grew up. There was one lady cook who used to stay at my maternal grand parents’ house was a widow. As kids, we would often visit our grandparents place. During one of the pujas or festivities, when I gave flowers to everyone and this lady, my granny shushed me away and whispered to me that I shouldn’t give it to her. I was at a very tender age to question the protocols. But it must have touched me somewhere unknowingly. I still remember a day when everybody in the family had gone to attend a function out. (I was left out at home with this lady, don’t remember why) I told her that we will play a game of marriage and that I would marry her. Then we made 2 garlands of flowers plucked from Granny’s garden and exchanged them. I told her that I would be her husband. ๐Ÿ˜€

I would wonder why most women I knew would ask God for only one wish – ‘To die as a Sumangali’. But I reasoned with myself thinking if this was their way of torturing their spoon fed hubbies who might not even know that raw rice needed to be boiled to make it edible.

SnS wrote a beautiful post on the several customs that a woman is exempted from during her periods.

I remember I always tried to have healthy discussions with Amma regarding this. Although there were a few advantages of these bans, I wondered how it mattered at all! She would not give scope for any argument and silence all attempts saying – ‘That is how elders have stated the rules. I can’t go against it’. Although there were no strict rules of using separate set of vessels or rooms during ‘those’ days, there were a few that irked me. First was that as soon as you discover that it was time, you had to take a bath which included washing your hair even if it was midnight! There was no geyser in our house which meant heating water in the kitchen in a vessel and taking it all the way to bathroom (which was located in our parents’ bedroom), taking a bath when rest of the world is snoring and then go back to snoozeland with wet hair. Another rule was that we were not supposed to wear a new dress during those days. There was an instance when Sis and I got into an argument with Amma as to what would happen if we wore it. She just declared ‘Rule is a rule’ which used to piss me off. Give me a logical reasoning and I could be sold but that was not to be. Then sis and I, being the smart chicks that we were devised a plan. One of us who was ‘clean’ (pun intended) wore the dress, removed it and then told Amma ‘She wore it once, it’s no more new. I can wear it now na?’ for which I guess Amma had to shrug speechlessly.

There are a few customs that openly show maleย dominance.

One of them, Amma used to follow which had a hilarious reasoning behind it. An ash gourd had to be cut by male species only. Although she would do the peeling and chopping, first cut had to be inserted by a MAN. Why? You ask! Apparently if a female cuts it, a child would come out of it. Can you believe that? There were times when Amma would have forgotten to get it slit by the men of the house before they left home in the morning. She would keep it uncut. Sis and I would say – ‘Give it to us. If a child comes, we’ll raise it.’ She would reply – ‘You do whatever you want in your own houses when you are married. Let me follow what I believe in’. Yeah! I don’t buy that she actually believed a baby could get conjured from an ash guard had a female hand cut into it.

There is threading ceremony for boys in the family which is observed with huge pomp and show. I would question why girls were exempted from it. But our elders were conditioned to pass the ball they received from their ancestors to their heirs. No questions were asked and no answers would be given.

During the wedding, there is a custom called ‘Kashi Yatra’. Here, the groom is dressed in saffron clothes, acts as if he is fed up with life and is going to Kashi leaving behind all worldly pleasures (and duties). The bride’s father goes to him and pleads with him not to go and offers his daughter to him. When I was small, it used to be entertaining. How these otherwise serious elders actually enact a drama. But now on hindsight, I find this custom meaningless. I wish it was the groom who would beg and plead to the bride’s father to agree to get his daughter married to him.

In my in-laws’ place, they have this custom of covering one’s head with a veil to ensure husband’sย longevity. Luckily, Ma herself doesn’t believe in this custom but when we attend family functions or visit relatives, we are supposed to ‘ACT’ like a husband’s-well-being-is-my-motive-of-life wives by not letting that piece of cloth slide from heads. I wonder why this torture a wife has to endure when the husband is smoking away to glory and digging his own grave!

I don’t even want to start on religious places that do not let women to enter!

If we have overcome theย tabooย like Sati, we might as well hope for better with passing years. But then, we sure have a long long way to go.


Posted by on February 17, 2012 in Uncategorized


36 responses to “Is woMAN nothing W/o a MAN?

  1. Sugar and Spice

    February 17, 2012 at 11:41 am

    It was a cute to read the marrying of your cook! Some things just hurt us deep down, no!

    And the ash gourd ritual is so hilarious! A baby out of ash gourd should be a miracle.

    This post has triggered a lot of thoughts, Seema. I not only love to question these rituals but also try to find reasons for they being in place. Nothing would come into existence without a valid reason is my PoV. But then, those reasons that were made then are now relevant!

    For instance, I am just thinking out aloud on the ash gourd ritual’s logical origins, okay. Don’t laugh! The ash gourd is ideally a big vegetable which may not be within the ambit of a woman’s cutting skills. It would probably need more force/strength and that is why a man is involved. We know what lazy people our men are, no? So, in order to lure them to do the job, they would have said a baby would come out of it if the woman cuts it. Then, he would go on to do it, without an option! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ He he!

    Anyways, I’ve been trying doing some research on the origins of a lot of irrelevant rituals to do a post. Lets see how it works out. Your post gives me more food for thought! Thanks!


    • Seema

      February 17, 2012 at 3:36 pm

      Even I believe that ‘Nothing would come into existence without a valid reason’. But then several customs have been passed down like that game ‘Chinese Whisper’ and original purpose might have been defeated during the course.

      Your logic about Ash Gourd was cute. I did not laugh, I promise! It could be true that it was used to lure men to do it. But, in my Amma’s case, she was the one to do the task of peeling or chopping it albeit after a teeny weeny cut into the veggie by a male hand.

      Waiting for your post. Glad my post gave you some food for thought ๐Ÿ˜€


      • Sugar and Spice

        February 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm

        Jeez! Just realised what a fool I made of myself! My comment should read as ‘But then, those reasons that were made then are now TOTALLY IRrelevant!’

        Yeah.. That is the problem with most of the previous generation’s people, Seema. ‘I was asked to do it. So I am doing it!’ has been the attitude. They really didn’t question it and didn’t want us to question those mindless stuff as well. Sigh!


        • Seema

          February 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm

          Arrrey, we all understood what you meant. Chill babes!

          Yeah, they didn’t question! And when we question, they are clueless and most of the time end up shushing us. If my kids come back and question me with something I follow and I dunno why I am doing so, I hope to be able to admit my ignorance to them and then re-evaluate my practices.


    • RS

      February 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      Hey SnS – I like your Ash guard logic. It actually does make some sense.


      • Seema

        February 17, 2012 at 4:37 pm

        It does make sense. I wish I could tell Amma this.


  2. Ashwathy

    February 17, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Then we made 2 garlands of flowers plucked from Grannyโ€™s garden and exchanged them. I told her that I would be her husband
    Awww so sweet ๐Ÿ™‚

    Apparently if a female cuts it, a child would come out of it. Can you believe that?
    WHAT!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ Never heard of this nonsense before! Where do people come up with such bakwas???

    I wish it was the groom who would beg and plead to the brideโ€™s father to agree to get his daughter married to him.
    LOL! ๐Ÿ˜€ Now that would be a sight alright!

    I wonder why this torture a wife has to endure when the husband is smoking away to glory and digging his own grave!
    I TOTALLY agree!! What is this nonsense? How is covering wife’s head related to husband’s health???

    I m glad my family never followed any of this nonsense. Thank goodness!! Now I realise that I was lucky to be able NOT undergo any of these meaningless rituals.

    it’s sad that in many parts of the country, a lot of this stuff is still followed ๐Ÿ˜


    • Seema

      February 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      You did not grow up with any of these rituals? Lucky you!

      Yes, in some villages it is even worse ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


  3. R's Mom

    February 17, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Oh even we have the Kashi yatra….its so stupid na…I mean boss, you want to get married equally as much as I do..then why this stupid custom….more and more I think about it, more and more I feel that the entire ritual of marriage is stupid and waste of time, money, energy and effort….just get a registered marriage and enjoy the money!!!

    The Ash gourd thing had me laughing..seriously!!!

    and Hugs on the hair bath at mid night…phew!!! I would NEVER have done it!

    My dad was ready to do a thread cermony for me (much to the horror of his relatives) I refused saying I dont want to do ‘Sandhi’ every day after that ๐Ÿ˜‰


    • Seema

      February 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm

      We had a registered marriage only. (The fact that we didn’t have money was a different case altogether) But then, I’m glad we didn’t have a social wedding. Coz, we’ll marry again Christian style when Mantam grow up a bit.

      During my late teens, I had stopped doing it. How would anyone even know when it happened if I didn’t tell them? ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

      Your dad is the coolest. My bro never did the Sandhi regularly after a couple of months.


      • Sugar and Spice

        February 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm

        What? People still do Sandhi and all, eh? ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

        My bro’s thread is a perpetual fixture on the coat-stand and the CH, being the CH, never even realises the fact that the thread has actually slipped out some where! What is the use of burning the currency notes on Upanayanam, tell me! Hmph!


        • Seema

          February 17, 2012 at 4:36 pm

          My dad has been doing it ever since his Brahmopadesham and I’m sure continues to do so even now. But then, he belongs to a different generation.

          Lol on the ‘perpetual fixture on the coat-stand’. I know, it’s totally a case of burning currency notes.


  4. lifesong

    February 17, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Lol on the ash gourd thing ๐Ÿ˜€ It reminds me of a similar custom we had with cutting pumpkin – it had to be cut by a male member though we didn’t know the reason ๐Ÿ™‚
    But seriously though we have come a long way we still have a long long way to go. It is ironical that though women are the ones who are discriminated by such customs, often it is another woman who enforces these customs on them ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


    • Seema

      February 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      ‘often it is another woman who enforces these customs on them’ – So true that!

      They are actually women who do it for the fear of others in the society. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


  5. garima

    February 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Its hight time we get rid of these rituals which no longer hold any importance.The younger generation is changing its just the older generation (our parents) for whom it little diffcult to change coz they have seen it from ages and accepted it without any objections.

    Its we people who need to bring in the change and steamline our thought process to go in sync with today’s lifestyle.


    • Seema

      February 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      Fingers crossed Garima


  6. celestialrays

    February 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Aww you played the marriage game with her? You are such a sweetheart! Hugs ๐Ÿ™‚

    Oh there are so many RULES aren’t there? And most of them ridiculous!


    • Seema

      February 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      So many RULES! Like SnS says, they might have made sense during the time they originated. But holding on to them when they are irrelevant and obscure now is certainly ridiculous.


  7. Bikram

    February 17, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    I think male dominance is how natue works , not just in humans but almost every species male is dominant one, But as we supposedly grew up (MANKIND) and supposedly became developed , it was still male dominance so such rules were made to make sure a MALE is always the dominant one. All these rules etc are man made , some intelligent person thought about it and wrote it .. it has become rule now …

    I dont think GOd wanted such rules if he did then he would not have made women like that, if you know what i mean.

    SATI well i think it was the british rule that helped a lot in that abolishing of it, and when british came to india they brought a different point of view so we see a lot of changes tooo

    Covering of head is common in punjab too, and it is part of sikh religion to cover the head .. Now that is another ritual which was made because it was need of the time.. Sikhism got created as a fighting force to fight the mughals , so people were in war most of time , it got difficult to take care of hair.. hence to cover it so they dont get dirty all the time , there was some logic behind it ..

    most rules and custom’s dont have logic as you said and no one questions them so they carry on …


    • Seema

      February 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm

      Rules were made, fine. But the issue lies in the fact that they are being followed since, without amendment to keep pace with the changing times.

      There might logic behind customs, but I don’t vouch for following something blindly without even questioning. If something makes sense, we can certainly follow na?


  8. Sam

    February 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Most traditions and religious customs restrict women one way or the other.. its a pity that lot of older women follow it and force us to do the same.. like you said long way to go..


    • Seema

      February 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm

      Sadly so, Sam ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


  9. summerscript

    February 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Yes ..long way to go!!! Sigh!


    • Seema

      February 17, 2012 at 4:31 pm

      ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Sigh!


  10. RS

    February 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Hey Seems – You again reminded me of a lot of such rituals – on the thread ceremony-I will give you more scentific details – well not exactly on the thread (though Im sure my Dad will know) and this post again triggered thoughts in me that I’ve never put on paper.

    You girls are amazing ๐Ÿ˜€ RM,SnS,you – you pust up such amazing clarity posts and then I want to do one of my own – I completely loose perspective and blow it all up! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Will try to do better justice to this one now ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Seema

      February 17, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      What clarity you see in my posts, I wonder ๐Ÿ™„

      You don’t lose perspective at all. I love the way you write, okay? Seriously, I mean it!

      Do the post soon, pretty please ๐Ÿ˜€


  11. anisnest

    February 18, 2012 at 12:27 am

    the ash gourd thing – I am hearing for the first time lol..
    reg. the male dominance the one that comes to my mind is during festivals when we pray to god only the male/head of the family is allowed to do the aarathi though all the food to offer and arrangements will be made by the female ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
    long way to do – so true.. Sigh!!!


    • Seema

      February 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      Yeah, long way to go Ani! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


  12. lostinmylilworld

    February 18, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    First of all LOL on the ash gaurd thing.. Cannot think abt any other reason for the origin of this ritual except wat SnS just said!!

    I hv also been biught up in a household where many such rituals r followed..

    Granny had a lot of restrictions.. But thankfully mom did not carry it forward and enforce much on me.. I used to always question my granny- Why do we follow this ritual? why shud I not do this etc.. Like others she always used to shoo me off without answering…Mom used to patiently try n explain n sometimes I used to convince her and let go off some rituals…

    Actually I hv a list of them… I guess I can do a seperate post on it.. Hv been seeing a lot of similar posts these days in the blogworld…


    • Seema

      February 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      Great that your mom would was open to discussion and would let go of some rituals.

      Yeah, do a post re. What about your travelogue? Now that you have moved to WP, I can comment easily as well. Yay to that!


  13. Smitha

    February 23, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    That was so sweet of you to do that marriage thing with your cook. I am sure she must have been touched..

    Such weird rituals people think up, no? I can’t understand why we still follow so many inane customs.. I was lucky that growing up, I never came across any such rituals – both my grandparents were very progressive -so I got lucky, I think – but my husband’s family believes in quite a few of such things, but we don’t.

    As for women doing everything to ensure a man’s long life – it annoys me so much! As if a woman’s life is so very unnecessary, no man is ever expected to pray for his wife!!!!!


    • Seema

      February 24, 2012 at 11:47 am

      Yeah, you were lucky!

      As if a womanโ€™s life is so very unnecessary, no man is ever expected to pray for his wife – So true. These customs irk me too. But then, men these days are quite progressive. One of my friends’ husband also fasted with her on Karva Chauth and I went Awww ๐Ÿ™‚ But again, long way to go ๐Ÿ˜€


  14. Deepthi

    January 1, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    Hilarious…. I could imagine the things as If I was there at ur home!! when the customs followed at ur home was to be followed.. Many times I questioned it too… To my mom as well… Fortunately am lucky enough that
    my mom doesn’t believe in the meaningless customs ๐Ÿ™‚ happy to recall the things and blessed to have u in my life ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Seema

      January 2, 2015 at 11:59 pm

      Haha, good to know your thoughts on these customs. I feel the same Deepthi. Glad that we reconciled ๐Ÿ™‚



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