Indian feminiity in the global context

Seemingly no social phenomenon has undergone drastic evolution at a rate as 'weddings and marriage' in human history.  It has both its universal as well as continental flavours. While in the west, renaissance, christianity, colonization, liberalism and globalism have driven it during the past two thousand and more years, in India the job was done mainly by its religions; traditional hinduism, brahmanism, hinduthva, christianity and islam.  


Of course all those isms and religions can stake out their claims on human advancement in various fields such as technology and spirituality.  However, since racism, caste-ism, imperialism, and a whole lot of other socio-economic discriminative practices were/are fundamental to them, except for traditional hinduism, to varying levels, they have had their impacts on social and individual relationships.  Weddings and marriage being the basic relationship in human society, they too are very much affected by them. 


For example how an intimate act of childbirth can become the most damning discriminative situation in the hands of racialists and pseudo-spiritualists,  read the law of manu, especially Chapter X on castes. 


In terms of time, Indians have moved a long way from manu who lived probably around 5th century AD.  Now we are enjoying globalism that has made a huge mark on India's economic liberalization.  But to what extent our minds are liberated from his time in terms of weddings and marriage is a question.  Or the truth may be that Indians' caste mentality and conservative practices on weddings and marriages have not improved much from manu's times.  But pockets of changes are there.


According to an October1, 2009 article in India Today, based on Shaadi.com's survey, in Kerala, famed for  highest literacy rate among other Indian states, 74% of male match seekers viewed caste as a vital parameter in matchmaking while in Delhi it was 42 and in Karnataka 60. see here


Now coming back to history, weddings and marriage are not any modern phenomena, they have been happening since man and woman started living together to fulfill their socio-cultural responsibilities in forms of having companionship, bringing up children etc,. in ways however primitive might appear to contemporary societies.


Needless to say its growth from primitive to contemporary in all global societies depended mainly on how man-woman relationship evolved there.  In the western societies, during the past few centuries, this evolve depended on global events such as slave trade, colonial and religious aggression.  At the same time, the impacts of those events were not confined within their boarders only. Together with the aggressors they moved on to colonies and territories.  Socio-economic exploitation, racial segregation, economic and political depletion all synonymous to colonisation derailed the basic sense of humanity especially in terms of man to woman relationship, human sexuality and femininity. In the case of India it was the second wave of colonisation.  The first was that initiated by the Brahmin cult I have explained above. 


Females generally had less active roles in aggression other than being mens' legal or illegal partners; carry their children, bring them up and to be the engine oil to run families. But their men who were never trained to control mind were out in colonies having women with enticing beauty and some willing to earn everything in exchange for bodies.  So they had to leave their homes for strange faraway lands to protect their marriages.  To India, they have sailed in droves and without being able to be accustomed with the subcontinent climate as hostile as its customs and females, died young infected with diseases, leaving their children to grave or do what they did-live in two worlds loving neither.  Their mixed offspring left behind in India in racial terms is called -the anglo-Indians. 


The racial mix of the South African colonialism which was the longest in the colonial history which turned out to be a full blown racial-legal enterprise towards the later part of the nineteenth century, between the whites the Africans and Indians is called the 'colourd'.   That between the slaves brought over from all over the European colonies is called the 'malayis'.  Well, they are not the cases of weddings and marriage but of men sexing with females when they got the heat by force or mutual agreement or probably vice versa.  



Not only that, look at the way christianity, the most powerful religion on earth depicts male-female relationship; the first female was created out of first man's rib:).  Well, there is a say that colonialism would not have been successful, if men with trunks of bible had not followed it.   



Seemingly for survivals, females had to accept all those states of affairs for themselves.  Probably they were scared that their resistance would undermine their survival as well as the peace and serenity in families and societies, or they were greedy or stupid.  Gradually coyness and submissiveness became the hallmark of femininity and a trademark to its dignity.  Men in that gap became macho and powerful.  Weddings were initiated by the society and marriage the responsibility of the community at large. 


Then the lower tide came.  West's scrambling for territories, seas and international trade resulted in the world wars. The western women were faced with life threatening situations which made them think and act unconventionally. Gone with the wind, a novel by margret michell throws light onto how the American women faced the challenges of the American civil war.


They came face to face with the reality that what men can do they can also do.  New challenges and ideas created for them new world views and philosophies-feminism- being one among them. Liberalism and personal freedom became true and real and an urge for them. When there came the call for the new socio-political and economic order western females were ready to take their roles in. 


It was a social revolution too. In the end of which wedding is now considered there as a legal agreement between a man and a woman, and marriage their joint responsibility.


I am not here to say whether it was all successful or not.



In the case of India, however, stories are different. Even now females are there protected species protected by laws of tradition that are decided by religious tenets and dogmas.  Protection is good anyway.   But what if a huge price need to be paid back for that? 


It is among the midst of all these, globalism is demanding changes to be implemented into the female world, out of political will.  But any changes, top down, have to go a long way to reach the heart and  soul of Indian people. That is why, Beijing conference though became instrumental in making preventative laws against women abuse across India, Indian women in majority are not able to take advantage of them by taking decisive steps to resolve their marital issues.  Instead they stay on in the abused relationships.


Even in the state of Kerala, where females have made breakthroughs in literacy and now in poverty alleviation through effective management of Kudumbashri etc. their price at home, society and marriage is tagged by men in terms of dowry and gold.  
 
Next Vedic weddings

2 comments:

  1. Seemingly no social phenomenon has undergone such drastic evolution as weddings and marriage in human history. Those changes have both universal as well as continental flavours. While in the West, renaissance, christianity, colonization, liberalism and market economy have played a big role in shaping them up during the past two thousand and more years, in India the job was mainly done by its religions; indigenous as well as imported ones, brahmanism, christianity and Islam.

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