Monday, May 9, 2011


I have nothing new to say. The number of sparrows is decreasing, the tigers are facing the threat of extinction, pigeons being electrocuted, and no, I will not talk about global warming.

High rises, and ever increasing urban population has pushed “natural” life to the periphery of our existence. We have so many more worries – EMIs, fuel prices, heat (forget the cause), network connectivity. And in all this whirligig that means the world to us, when we come across living beings that are not humans we either are too busy to notice them, or we spare a moment of guilt and passion, a camera click maybe, and then move on with our mundane reality.

These squirrels around my parents’ apartment in Noida had babies, and all of us spared some time to feed them food and water and observe them stealthily from behind closed windows and curtains. I am sure these cuties couldn’t care a damn about how happy we felt having them around. They must be cribbing about the lack of privacy, if nothing else.

This pigeon has a sad story. It had built a nice nest over our split ac’s rear in the balcony, and when we had to remove the covering of the AC to get ready for the rising mercury in Delhi, the nest fell over, breaking one egg. Yes, we were devastated. And that is that. The pigeon fluttered around for a couple of hours giving us the cold, accusing stare – we had a few grains and water to offer in apology – It finally recreated its abode on top of our neighbor’s bedroom window. I swear the pigeon family will be safer there than on top of the ac.

I am less sympathetic to the noisy crows, not that their right to co-exist is any less. Am sure our dislike is mutual.

So, what are your encroachment stories?

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Before you ask, yes that is a picture from my wedding album. This particular ritual in the hindu marriage ceremony is known as “kanyadaan”, quite inadequately translated in English as “giving or rather gifting away of the daughter”.

The hindu vedic marriage rituals pays a lot of emphasis on this particular ceremony. It is supposed to be the highest sacrifice (maha daan); and therefore, it is believed that parents who have performed the “kanyadaan” for their daughter are relieved of all sins and attain heaven.
(Parents who have sons live longer, my brother jokes!)

What exactly the ceremony entails is that the father holds the hand of the bride, while the mother pours the holy water; the father then places his daughter’s hand in the hand of the groom, as the sacred verses are enchanted in the background.
(And so ladies and gentlemen, the official handover of the seat of power and the reigns of control from the dad to the husband happens!)

From my personal experience, I can tell you that even in fairly modern families where daughters are raised and respected as equals to sons, and the “kanyadaan” is more ceremonial for tradition-sake than actually meaning that the father will no longer have any right on the daughter (and the umbilical cord is forever cut), this is a very very emotional and somber affair during the wedding.

Even though at the back of my mind I knew I was doing this for ritual-sake only, the chants of the priests and the whole ambience – the water, the physical “giving away” - and then when I had to go and sit next to my husband instead of with “my” side of the family - and finally seeing my dad stifle his tears, I thought I’d burst with all the emotions brewing inside or just scream my head off and put a stop there and then!
(Fortunately, or unfortunately, the conformist that I am, none of that happened!)

God, why do weddings have to be so emotionally taxing and exhausting!

And that is precisely the point of this post. Why can’t culture and tradition adapt to the current times. Why go through the elaborate rituals when most of them make little practical sense in the world today, wherein girls are brought up to be as independent as their male counterparts and there is no real need for her to be “taken care of, provided and sheltered” by one man or the other!

C’mon, not that I obeyed my dad to the T before marriage that I need to now “obey” my husband instead. And just because I am married, doesn’t mean dad and mom will mean any less than what they have always meant!

If I am blessed with a daughter, I am not sure I will do this kind of an elaborate and dramatic "kanyadaan” at her wedding, not even for custom-sake. Would you?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I “Obey”?

So there has been a lot to write home about the Royal Wedding, complete with the Disney fantasy like feel to the whole event. “Dreams do come true”. Oh well!

Of all the trillion articles and news items on the affair of the decade – ranging from the royal kiss to the ring that wouldn’t slide smooth, from the lovely bridal attire to the over-the-top head gears of the guests, and what not, I thought I should talk about this one: Kate 'will not obey'.

Following Diana’s royal ditch to the royal protocol, Kate decides to steer clear of vowing to “obey” Prince William (I hear he is a Duke now). Instead she pledges to “love, comfort, honor and keep” her husband. A very honest lady! Why promise what you are sure you will not do, even if it is only ceremonial!

While the old school of thought continues to defend the use of the word, “obey”, emphasizing that it is not meant as “subservient” or an excuse for domestic abuse, I’d say one should rather be safe than sorry!

This news piece reminded me of my wedding. Married following the hindu vedic rituals, during the many “mantras and slokas” (vedic chants in Sanskrit) the pandits (priests) were reciting and translating for the benefit of all, one distinct vow or rather instruction to me was that I should never do what my husband prohibits. To do anything I should seek my husband’s permission, even if I want to visit my parents etc.

While the close knit family and friends laughed through it, I looked up to Vish to assure both of us understood that this was only “ceremonial”, and well, not to be taken as the word of law. The indulgent smile from him saved the priests from an argument session, which I am sure nobody had the patience to deal with at 2 in the morning!

Though I absolutely believe in the institution of marriage, I often wonder what an MCP the person who wrote some of these rituals/vows must have been. The inherent assumption that men know better and will do better - And hence, the lesser mortals (read women) should bow their heads in subservience so that these demi-gods can lead us and make sense of our lives.

In this day and age, there continue to be women who live as puppets with their strings firmly held by the husbands. Inequality, domestic violence, verbal abuse – all continue to plague many marriages in many households in India.
We need people to come out in the open and acknowledge the wrong/injustice when they see it. So what if it is dictated by religion or religious texts. Religion is a path to God created by humans themselves – If we can’t change it for the better, who else can?


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