Why Your Daughter’s Marriage Shouldn’t Be Your Biggest Dream For Her

“When are you going to start saving? Don’t forget there’s a girl growing up in the house..”, countless wives have been reminding their husbands in Indian households and sometimes on TV screens. Parents in the country place too much emphasis on marriage. And if you’re a girl, this gets doubled. The moment the doctor announces the gender, the planning starts, the saving starts. And more importantly, the worrying.

Because of the pervasive dowry system that devours most families by attaching itself to destructive notions of what constitute status, honor and respect, this directly affects the family’s management of financial resources and how girls are brought up. An unmarried daughter becomes a burden to be removed which in turn subjects her to differential treatment. Giving your daughter’s marriage utmost importance means everything you do for her is ultimately influenced by this concern. You either don’t educate her beyond a basic level because you don’t have enough money to spend on both (and clearly you’ve decided marriage is to be given the bigger priority), or you educate her (often according to your own wishes rather than hers) with the prospect of fetching a well qualified groom so that she can be ‘sent off’ to a ‘respectable’ home.

 Studio portrait of three children wearing jewellery, at Madras in Tamil Nadu, taken in c. 1870 The young girl on the left is wearing the half-sari which is the traditional dress of adolescent girls in the South Indian states. The girl in the centre of the photograph is wearing the jewelled head-dress traditionally worn at marriage ceremonies or at 'rites of passage' ceremonies performed when a girl reaches puberty. source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Group_of_Tamil_girls.jpg

Studio portrait of three children wearing jewellery, at Madras in Tamil Nadu, taken in c. 1870 The young girl on the left is wearing the half-sari which is the traditional dress of adolescent girls in the South Indian states. The girl in the centre of the photograph is wearing the jewelled head-dress traditionally worn at marriage ceremonies or at ‘rites of passage’ ceremonies performed when a girl reaches puberty.
source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/

[Read more…]

A White Mark

I waz whitemailed
By a white witch,
Wid white magic
An white lies,
Branded by a white sheep
I slaved as a whitesmith
Near a white spot
Where I suffered whitewater fever.
Whitelisted as a whiteleg
I waz in de white book
As a master of white art,
It waz like white death.

People called me white jack
Some hailed me as a white wog,
So I joined de white watch
Trained as a white guard
Lived off the white economy.
Caught and beaten by de whiteshirts
I waz condemned to a white mass,
Don’t worry,
I shall be writing to de Black House.

– White Comedy by Benjamin Zephaniah

This poem by the British poet Benjamin Zephaniah “flips the script” on the words white and black, making the reader think about how those terms are used in the English language. In some cases white is used to denote good and black bad: white magic vs. black magic; blackleg is a derogatory term for a strike-breaker; blackguard is a criminal or someone of low status; black mass is a sacrilegious mass; black death apparently referred to the terror of the plague and not its symptoms. Others do not denote good or bad and are simply descriptive: blackwater fever is a malarial fever which turns a patient’s urine black, and the black watch is a Scottish military regiment which wears dark uniforms. I love that jarring last line, because it never occurred to me to wonder if any country would have a black house as their leader’s home.

[Read more…]

Hello!

Hello! It’s great to be here and our sincere thanks to Ed and the FTB team for having us on board.

A quick introduction to Nirmukta: Nirmukta is an organization which promotes science, freethought and secular humanism in India. It was founded as a website by Ajita Kamal in 2008, and since then its online presence has grown into three websites: the main parent site at nirmukta.com, the community forum at nirmukta.net and Nirmukta’s atheist activism arm, indianatheists.org. We have formed regional groups in several Indian cities as well; the objective of these groups is to mobilise local on-ground activism (like Hug an Atheist Day just the other day). Nirmukta also operates numerous social media groups on Facebook. This includes the popular Indian Atheists page, one of the largest gatherings of atheists in India. For more about our goals and values, please see What is Nirmukta and What Do We Plan to Do? or watch this short Introduction to Nirmukta on Youtube.

[Read more…]