So long as we are not that woman?

I had asked three questions in a comment on this post.

1. Why does the daughter in law’s reluctance to touch feet make some people unhappy? What does it indicate that causes unhappiness to those whose feet are not touched and their well-wishers? It has to be more than just touching of feet – what exactly is it? Does touching of feet symbolize something and that something cannot be conveyed in any other way? Is it about control?

2. Why does the daughter in law not wearing sari affect her in laws? Again, what does wearing a sari indicate that is so pleasing to many people in traditional families?

3. Why is it considered important that the daughter in law should wake up before everybody else? Why does everybody else need that extra sleep which an Indian daughter in law does not? And those daughters in law who do wake up earlier – are they happier?

Here is a response. 

1. Touching an elders feet is seen as a way of seeking blessings. Hence, when someone refuses to do it, it seems hurtful. I am not advocating that its the only way of seeking blessings or seeing the right or wrong in doing it. Fortunately, I come from a family and am married into one where this is not expected or practiced often except for special occasions or in the presence of very very old relatives when we are happy to oblige. It conveys more than just respect. It is an action that conveys regard to the long experienced life led by the elderly by seeking their blessings for our own journey of life. By touching the feet one symbolizes that they seek the dust gathered on the feet of the person that has walked long enough on this land (metaphor for the experience gathered over a lifetime) and rub it on ones heart or head (symbolizing may I learn from your lessons and experiences, may I keep these close to my heart or mind when I make my decisions). Every culture has traditional sign languages for various greetings or convey of feelings that were difficult to express in words. I wish these simple gestures would not die with time.

IHM: Do parents of Indian sons have more wisdom and blessings to give than parents of Indian daughters? Should these genstures be voluntary or forced?

Ever heard of Indian sons in law being pressurized to touch feet of their wife’s family members? 

Many parts of India have no custom of sons in law touching their in laws’ feet. And in many North Indian states daughters do not touch-feet in their maika. They touch all the in laws’ feet, including the youngest sisters in law, and other family members in their sasuraal.

Why is it considered ‘fortunate’ that this custom is not practised in their family?

I wonder if it is also about, Display of respect to those in power?

2. Sari is more than just a traditional attire. Since it is a part of our culture there are memories and dreams attached to it, unknowingly. My MIL suggested me to wear the most traditional and difficult sari for the main ceremony of our wedding. I had never given it a thought but when I saw the way her face lit up while suggesting it I didn’t have the heart to decline or admitting my fear of tripping over it. I realised that she must have dreamt of it just like my mother dreamt of dressing me up for my big day. I immediately agreed and didn’t regret it one bit as out of all the other saris and outfits I wore for our wedding, that particular sari really took the ceremony to a new level. Several cousins and friends decided to wear it themselves on their wedding and others who were already married wondered why they didn’t think about it!

IHM: Ever wondered why Indian sons in law are denied these opportunities to show respect for their in laws’ feelings and culture (dhoti/mundu/lungi)? And what if there was fear of husband’s disapproval or in laws’ taunts if the ‘suggestion’ was ‘declined’?

 The Modern Sari: Some Facts and a Question.

Can’t end marriage over sari ;)

3. Since I am a daughter in law who wakes up before anyone else I think I can answer this too. I have a funny story here though :-) While growing up I was famous for not being an early riser but somehow I used to wake up much before my in laws got up during my stay at their home so much so that it made them feel very uncomfortable. My mil felt obliged to wake up too since she felt she is setting up an example for me. After a few early rises she confessed and requested me to please sleep a little longer. :-) She loves her morning sleep and had in laws who woke her up every single day with the puja bell and loud prayers so she’s very considerate about letting all her children (irrespective of by birth or by law) sleep in. When she realized me and my sil had to tend to a crying baby at night she didn’t let anyone wake us up next day even though we had several guests and a ceremony at home that day. Although I love my sleep more than you can imagine, I really benefit from waking up the earliest when we have company or in laws over. It gives me time to organize my thoughts/plans for the day and getting something’s done before the chaos begins. Being the first one awake, listening to that quiet moment when I hear the sound of everyone deep asleep and getting that quiet time alone is really priceless.

IHMWhat if the mother in law had decided to continue ‘the tradition’ of the daughters in law (not the mother in law) waking up early? Should some people have the right to enforce such rules on other equal adults? Is it that women’s happiness does not a matter, so long we are not that woman?

Do you think it is okay to make somebody uncomfortable by waking up early (good Indian value), but wrong to make them uncomfortable by waking up late (bad Indian value)? 

Related Posts:

When married Indian women strive to look unmarried.

Have you read this thank you letter by Kunwar Khuldune Shahid?

57 thoughts on “So long as we are not that woman?

  1. 1) I actually know a well respected ‘elder’ in my family who was a child molester. Voluntarily touching the feet of the specific elders you know and respect is fine but doing it as a ritualistic requirement to all elders, even strangers, is wrong.. because, for example, you never know when you might be asking your child to show subservience to an abuser.

    2) “Since it is a part of our culture there are memories and dreams attached to it, unknowingly.” Why oh why are there no dreams attached to dhotis? Why this burden of culture on women? Even so, wanting you to wear a sari on your wedding day might be tolerable. But are you next going to tell us that being told what to wear every day also gives you much joy?

    3) Actually the funny story does not answer why the DIL must wake up before everyone else. The only explanation is because she must cook and clean for everyone else.. and do it before they wake up so they don’t have to wait for breakfast! Do husbands not have to organise thoughts and plans? This is to do with housework and the inequitable sharing of housework. Let’s not romanticise it.

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    • Agree with Carvaka.

      Slightly off track but still related.
      When my two sons were born, I was under a lot of pressure to use the gotra as their last name (my family and the husband’s gave up the family name a couple of generations ago). I considered it quite a bit but then decided to not use the gotra for several reasons:
      1. It is openly and voluntarily telling the world my caste and the gotra. Why should I divulge this?
      I have been told that many people have benefitted by doing this but I’d rather they benefit based on merit.
      2. I know the gotra is a sage’s name and the sage is believed to be our ancestor. But I don’t know him. I don’t know what kind of person he was. As Carvaka mentions, what if the sage had commited crimes (that are often masked). The name becomes a part of my children’s identity.

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    • ❤❤ love it !!🙂 ..
      I agree wholeheartedly with, and thank you for, your answer #1 .. "for example, you never know when you might be asking your child to show subservience to an abuser" ..

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      • I received this comment on my blog (http://transcendist.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/so-there/), but it was directed at my comment on this post. I would like to post, and reply to it here, to retain the context. It’s going to be a little long, IHM – sorry😛

        The comment:
        rithwick
        July 11, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Reply | (Edit)

        I agree wholeheartedly with, and thank you for, your answer #1 .. “for example, you never know when you might be asking your child to show subservience to an abuser” .
        I disagree because how is a western style handshake or hug better practiced in west & also in India too – can get you even closer – the physical proximity – imagine a child physically touching a pedophile???
        so, don’t blindly say that act of touching feet is wrong and if you do, better incude examples of other forms of greetings too to sound rational

        My reply:
        rithwick, I mentioned touching of feet because that was what the post is about. I would have replied similarly if handshakes or hugs were being discussed🙂 I do believe, however, that touching feet depicts a level of subservience, socially and emotionally, that is marginally different from handshakes .. hugs still considered ‘sexual’ in the Indian context .. I can’t even remember the number of times I got stares and taunts because I hugged people, even my father !!

        I do take offence to your ‘don’t blindly say’ comment; I had both my eyes wide open, literally and figuratively, when I made that comment .. I also found no reason to include examples of other forms of greetings because the context was Indian rituals and customs, specifically touching the feet of elders ..

        incidentally, the reason I applauded Carvaka’s comment, so enthusiastically, is rooted in my personal experiences .. I grew up in a family where touching the feet of anyone, and everyone, in any room/house/function I happened to walk into, was seen as the norm – provided, of course, they were Brahmins😛 .. the elders, who normally shunned me because of my dark looks and gender, showered praises on me, and I felt ‘accepted’ – comments like ‘she’s such a polite and respectful little girl’ sent shivers down my spine and I walked on air for days afterwards .. my pre-pubescent, as well as a greater part of my life beyond puberty, was a constant struggle to ‘fit in’ .. anyway, to get back to the point; in the process, I touched the feet of my abuser probably a million times, and did not find it unnatural .. it was ‘expected of me’, you see .. I did not choose to refuse because my whole world was centred around proving I was a ‘good girl’ to everyone around me .. I realize now, that my acceptance of this ‘ritual’ was so extreme because children, from a very early age, are brainwashed so completely about rituals and customs, that they don’t even think of refusing to do something they are uncomfortable with; or sometimes even have the conscious need to refuse them – they are not taught that, they too, have the right to choose or feel ..
        as a mother, over the years, I have tried to teach my daughter to say ‘no’ to anything she feels uncomfortable with – although that does pose a problem with directions like less junk food, TV or computer😛; but we manage; so much more preferable than the alternative !!

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        • Completely agree with you transcendist and thanks for sharing your personal experience. This ‘elder’ I mentioned abused me as well, but unfortunately for him I was already old enough to tell all my aunts and uncles and parents about it. What happened? They then shielded children from him indirectly but NEVER confronted him at all (only my mum did).

          He was invited to my wedding because ‘log kya kahenge’ and took to the stage on my sangeet and everything. Lots of kids and adults touched his feet, as they always do.. even the ones who know he is an abuser make their kids touch his feet. No shame or remorse in him whatsoever and he probably thinks he did no wrong, since there were no consequences for him being ‘found out’.

          “I disagree because how is a western style handshake or hug better practiced in west & also in India too – can get you even closer – the physical proximity – imagine a child physically touching a pedophile???”

          Well kids aren’t made to hug every older stranger in the west or even shake hands. You shake hands in a business setting and in the home you teach your kids to simply greet people politely ‘hello, how are you’. Anyway, I don’t understand the need to go ‘but they do it wrong too’.. the alternatives to an indian custom are not just what the west does.

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    • I love how curt and candid you are… Whenever people romanticize ridiculous traditions and ideas, I can only face-palm in my mind. I am at a loss HOW to explain the absurdity.

      Of course I agree that the MIL in the post sounds rather nice. But ths is not everybodys story.

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    • Almost fell off my chair laughing at this — “why oh why are there no dreams attached to dhotis”.
      No offense meant to anyone.🙂

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      • Well,I did have a ‘dhoti dream’ – to see my then would-be husband in a dhoti for our wedding ceremony, but obviously it never came true !! thanks to you all know who…!!

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        • It’s a long story.
          You should have been here a year ago to understand who is “Ananya”.

          In Brief, Ananya was a troll, who wrote under different names here in the comment section. He/She was a “man” at times, “woman” at times, depending on the what was advantageous in the context.

          Ananya was a “Shravan Kumar” sort of person.
          His / Her comments got the maximum down thumbs but he/she was undeterred. He/she finally just faded away.

          May be IHM can readily cite the links.
          You will have plenty of reading to do if you wish to catch up.

          Regards
          GV

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  2. For the record:

    1) I get up half an hour to 45 minutes before my wife does.
    I boil the milk and make the coffee for both of us, boil drinking water in the kettle, bring in the newspaper and the milk sachets from outside the door before she wakes up. I also make the bed in the morning after she gets up. It is a morning routine at my home.

    2)I love it when my wife wears a saree. She used to look the prettiest (to my eyes at least) during her early years and now looks the most dignified these days (she is 58) when she is wearing a saree than any other dress. But most of the time she wears a salwaar Kameez these days. I have never seen my daughter in a saree except on her wedding day. It is not an issue with me. Let anybody wear anything they are comfortable in. I used to wear a “veshti” and got fed up with having to re-tie it around the waist several times a day when it got loose. I have switched to wearing Bermuda shorts at home.

    3)I had no problems doing “Saashtaang namaskaaram” to my elders (including the elders among my in-aws). I don’t expect it from the younger generation now. I am positively embarrassed when some young couple request me to line up with my wife so that they can prostrate in front of us. I oblige them only because they want to do it. I never ask or expect this courtesy.

    I have an open mind on these issues. Let tradition be followed willingly by those who want to. Let it not be imposed on any one. But let us not needlessly criticize these traditions.

    Regards
    GV

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    • “Let tradition be followed willingly by those who want to. Let it not be imposed on any one. But let us not needlessly criticize these traditions.”

      You’ve hit the nail on the head, GVji.🙂 The protest against traditions is more towards the compulsary-ness, of HAVING TO follow them regardless of your belief in or willingness to. Of some traditions being meaningless impositions, just because ‘it has always been done like this.’ we even have an expression in my mother-tongue, marathi, for this. “Julmacha Ram-Ram”. A namaskara done out of being coerced to do it.

      This is mostly about control. So it stands to reason that if the control factor is taken out, and choice factor brought in, people would be happier all around. Heck, even the patriarchal types might find that they, too, benefit. In terms of real respect from the younger generations.

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    • GV, Saree become a symbol of beauty and dignity because you had been told in young days, both verbally and by non verbal cues that it is like that. Our likes and dislikes are moulded by the dominant culture of the Society.
      For a woman who is aware of her suppression, Saree may symbolize the chain that has to be broken.
      For progress of the Society to a more Humanist one, traditions has to be criticised , questioned and broken.

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      • Arun,
        Thank you for your opinions but I beg to differ.

        1)Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. To my eye the saree is a wonderful attire. Yes, I agree that it is often not convenient to wear one to work. But there are occasions when nothing beats the grace and beauty of a well worn saree. This opinion is my own, uninfluenced by any verbal cues from anyone.

        2) In my opinion, any one who feels the saree is a symbol of suppression and is a restricting chain is welcome to avoid it. No one should be coerced into wearing one. But to me at least, it is the number one attire for a woman and any woman looks better in a saree to my eyes than in any other dress.
        The saree can be worn in various styles and it is possible to wear it modestly and in a dignified way.

        3)No. Not all traditions. Some traditions are clearly evil. (Examples: Sati, child marriage, dowry, ban on widow remarriages etc) and should be discarded.
        Other traditions can be debated and people left free to decide for themselves if they wish to follow them or not. But there are some traditions in every society which are healthy and, while I have no issue with those who do not wish to follow them, I see no reason for questioning them or breaking them or criticizing those who choose to follow t hem.

        Thanks once again for your response.

        Regards
        GV

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        • Hey! how did I become “anonymous”.?
          That was me, GV replying to Arun’s comment
          Just clarifying.
          Regards
          GV

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        • I agree to your philosophy of ‘to each their own’.

          However, I struggle with “I see no reason for questioning”

          If we don’t question tradition then how do we know whether it is a healthy one or an evil one? The alternative to not questioning is taking people’s word for it. There are people in Rajasthan who still support sati and are only held back by law. It was a much glorified tradition and at that time, only an outsider (a Brit) had the perspective to see it as evil. That’s how conditioning blinds people. Anything done only for the sake of tradition (‘it’s always been this way’) must be questioned if we are ever to see past our conditioning.

          Also the evaluation of a saree cannot be about whether or not it looks beautiful to a man, it is whether or not a woman individually wants to wear it (and should it be imposed). What looks beautiful to man is irrelevant to that question I think.

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        • GV , thank u for a detailed & lucid reply.
          1. As you are aware it is not the eye that actually see, but visual cortex in our Brain. Our Brain is not a clean slate, but hugely influenced by environment including people around it. Science has proved that our environment moulds our personality including our likes and dislikes .
          3. Traditions which you now call evil was considered to be wonderful for few centuries. Only when it was critically evaluated and questioned under modern humanist values, that we realised they are evil. This change from old to new takes place constantly as humans become more and more civilized. Traditions do not accept independence of action of an individual. There is no tradition in feudal culture where individual freedom is respected. Your respect for individual freedom comes from the Humanist in you.

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        • I agrre with you sir. In my in laws house there is a tradition of touching feet everyday. Its not only for DIL but for all. And when mu hubby visits to my place. He does it everday for my parents. I don’t see any harm in taking blessing from elders .

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        • @indianhomemaker
          : I wish my child should follow but won’t force. I will teach him the tradition but he will accept or not it is his take. If we can go forward hug a person then why can’t we touch feet. Touching feet doesn’t mean you are lower to him. One intresting fact i found in web.

          Touching feet of Elders or Saints is a unification of point of SHRADDHA & KARUNA .

          ” SHRADDHA ” reduces “ego” & lower emotions along with
          Solar plexus chakra .

          ” KARUNA ” activates HERT- CHAKRA of the saints or elders.

          ” SHRADDHA ” increases receptivity of the person ,while
          ” KARUNA ” Start to discharge energy from HEART CHAKRA towards
          the person who is reseptive with ” SHRADDHA “

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      • @Arun, Bingo! A million likes to your comment. I have been trying to convey the same to a lot of people: “Our likes and dislikes are moulded by the dominant culture of the Society.” Of course!

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        • @ Carvaka: You stole my words from my mouth!

          Also the evaluation of a saree cannot be about whether or not it looks beautiful to a man, it is whether or not a woman individually wants to wear it (and should it be imposed). What looks beautiful to man is irrelevant to that question I think.

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      • Thats what i want to say. If in modern society we are teaching table manners to our kids then why not our tradition. And I agree with you that tradition should be same for all not only for the female part.

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    • This is true that all traditions are for the benefit of those in authority.

      Brings to mind something I heard recently, about how some traditions and customs are being blindly followed, even when they no longer make sense.
      .For example, in South India, a new bride is sent packing off to her parents in the first year of her marriage for the duration of the month of August.The Rule being that a new bride and MIL should not be under the same roof.
      This came to be practised in 1) ancient times and 2) in the families where agriculture was their line of work.Because – August, with its rains, is the time to plant the fields.August and its showers, is also an excuse for sleeping in a little late, especially more so if the guy is a new groom. So, when the groom sleeps in late, neglecting his duty towards the farm, the father shoulders the responsibility. This upsets the mother, to see her young son cosy in bed and her poor old husband breaking his back.Since she can not scold her son, she often ends up blaming the new bride! This results in lot of ill-will.To avoid thee situation, the In laws used to send the new bride off to her parents during the month of August.
      Many practise it to this day, irrespective of whether they work in the fields or in air conditioned offices in cities, which is silly and goes to show how blindly we follow rules and regulations in the name of Indian values, wihout even stopping to think about the underlying logic and common sense.

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  3. 1) I have always been wary of this ‘custom’ of being made to touch people’s feet. When I was a kid, and the youngest, it was a chore, and I hated it. Especially that moment when you don’t do it, and there are elder guests in the house, and then your mom tells you to do it, in front of everyone! It was embarrassing. But then came my younger brother and cousins, and it was fun to make them bend down and touch my feet😛 Hypocritical I know. But I was 4 or 5 years old. The more I thought about it though, it made no sense, especially because there were some ‘elders’ I did not like to be around. If they had any ‘wisdom’, I did not see it. I still don’t. Having lived away form India for a long time, I’ve gotten out of this forced ‘habit’, but it does still happen when we go back. My feeling is that if I respect someone, and they really want to bless me, why should I have to break my back doing this? Wouldn’t a hug convey more love and affection? I remember my dad bowing and touching my maternal grand-parents’ feet too though. So in my family it wasn’t that bad. But there was certainly a ladki-wale-ladke-wale feeling to it, which was invisible to me as a naive child, but became much more apparent and despicable as I grew up.

    2) Sarees. I’ve always felt uncomfortable about them. I wore one about two times, both when I was a child, for some drama in school. I’ve always personally thought that a saree was more revealing than a suit, and its so much more difficult to don and maintain. But regardless, I feel that each individual should have the right to decide what they want to wear. I find it very non-sensical that something A wears (or doesn’t wear) can make B happy/comfortable/more worthy of respect. There was a quote on a TV show my friend used to watch that I really liked – “Tehzeeb aur tameez dil mein hoti gain. Jeans mein nahi.” Clothing is just clothing, it is in no way an indicator of the wearer’s character or worth, or worse, respect for the audience. It is one way in which people express themselves, and no one else should have a say in it.

    3) As a night owl, this waking up before everyone else is also a pet-peeve. In my house, my mom and dad both wake up at the same time. He goes to work much later than she does, but he always wakes up with her. My grandpa is the same way – in our house, there was an unspoken ‘rule’ that the man would make the morning tea, and so they would always wake up early. People’s body clocks are different – some like waking up early, others (like me) hate. When one wakes up should be a matter of personal preference – not a rule set by others.

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  4. Actually this person when she talks abt getting up early is talking about only herself and how she likes to wake up early…Does this make it ok, for all those women who don’t like to get up early, but are forced to do so by their in-laws? This is like some Burkha clad women in the USA saying burkhas are not bad because they wear them by their own choice, but forget about those millions of women who will be stoned to death for not wearing one!!

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  5. I have come across many reasons for touching elders feet.To seek blessings, to respect them, acknowledge their wisdom, etc.
    But, isn’t the bride required to touch the feet of, and seek blessings from, the groom on the wedding day and on many more ocassions too, like Karva Chauth? So in the days of the child marriage, what blessings was a 5 or 7 or 11 yr old little girl supposed to be seeking from her 7 or 11 or 15 yr old groom? What wisdom does the child-groom possess? What worldly experiences qualify him to bless another?
    Maybe boys studied, and girls did not? Wait, girls too studied.They were made to study the science of cooking, cleaning, etc.
    So both boy and girl child now have a skill each, that the other did not possess.
    Then, both should fall at the others feet, one after the other.How come that never happened?

    Let us suppose that, in the olden days, since women were confined to indoors and it was the man who had ‘worldly wisdom’, woman touching husband’s feet is justified.
    Going by that logic, if, in today’s world, a woman has travelled abroad more than her spouse, can she ask her husband to touch her feet and live a blessed life gaining from her worldly wisdom? Will the husband do it sincerely? No.Because 1)he has not been taught to do it, 2) he has not seen , in his lifetime, any male touching a life-partner’s feet.
    So, it means, touching feet of others is basically something that is taught. Be it a female touching a husband’s feet or the younger, touching the elders’ feet. We are TAUGHT that elders are wise, feet are sacred, Gods reside in the feet, bending and bowing is an indication of a SHOW of respect.We are taught, just like we are taught other things like eating with the right hand, washing hands before and after a meal, sleep at night, etc.
    It is conditioning of the mind.

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  6. @the touching feet thing

    Im not in India so I’ve never really seen anyone do it or maybe its because my familiy’s from the north. But once my mom said her feet were really hurting her so i started to give her a foot rub. She started freaking out telling me Im not supposed to touch her feet, that daughters arent supposed to touch their parents feet.

    i found it ridiculous, i still give her foot rubs when her feet hurt and tell her stop acting crazy. Shes my mom and i love her.

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  7. The truth is these answers are ‘personal feelings’ of the writer and does not in any way answer your questions, IHM. Explanation is given as to the symbolic significance of touching feet of elders. Symbols or symbolic actions NEVER teach anyone anything. They become things done automatically without thought and enforced without thought too, just for the sake of it. Frankly, if you don’t touch an elder’s feet, will respect fly out of the window? And by this standard only Indians respect elders? That is stretching things a bit too far. Besides, Mallus don’t have the habit of touching everyone’s feet either. Does that mean in Kerala they don’t respect elders?

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  8. In my ‘girl seeing hey day’ inspite of me telling my parents i liked someone, they insisted on inviting random men and their families to come see me. !!!!
    on one such incident my mom told me to touch the fellas mom’s feet in front of them, i refused and they rejected me🙂 happy happy so i used that tactic for a few of the bride seeing sessions till my mom wisened up.
    I’ve been very vocal even when young that i wouldnt fall at any random uncle/aunt or even my own relatives feet. muchto the irritation of my parents.
    My kids have never fallen at my or anyone else’s feet, only at the temple have I seen them do it. of course they do a namaste to most everyone elder, that’s because they have inherited their dad’s aversion to shaking hands.

    as for the sari i love the sari but seldom wear it nowadays unless i’m motivated or when i go out somewhere nice or to weddings, it make me feel good looking. but then again i do as i please since i have no ‘elders’ to poke their nose in my business. i love cotton saris but maintaining them is a pain.
    My husband ALWAYS wakes up before me, he is an early riser and I’m a late one, nowadays since the boys are gone he makes my morning tea , no point bothering the cook for that, and in school days he would usually be the one waking the boys up and me too🙂 with twins we each got one ready, and thankfully left the breakfast to the mami.
    weekends nowadays he torments me till i get up and accompany him on his jog – he jogs i walk half asleep and am usually wide awake by the time we get back. with the boys one of them wakes up at the crack of dawn while the other can sleep till noon . the early riser needs to keep busy so he makes chai, experiments with breakfast and generally drives our cook nuts when he’s home. .. i just hope the night owl gets a night own as a partner to paint the town red.

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    • “In my ‘girl seeing hey day’ inspite of me telling my parents i liked someone, they insisted on inviting random men and their families to come see me. !!!!”

      Why why why do parents do that?

      Do they honestly think that we’ll change our minds & fall flat in love the instant we see another ‘hunk’ or something.

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      • well they hope the mind will change or maybe see these other guys and realize what a loser you picked🙂 i dot know but back then that was the way . didn’t bother me much, I straight out told every single one of them that i was madly in love with someone else🙂 and that i had told my parents and i apologize on my part but they should pull up my parents for wasting their time. and that was that..

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  9. 1. The wonderfully worded reasoning behind this custom that is given here is a nice thought. It is the spirit with which namaskaram should be practiced, in any household, but that is NOT the way it is done most of the time. Most of the time, especially in the households of in-laws, this custom is directly tied with ego, and the reasoning is warped and twisted. It becomes a symbol of power and coercion rather than what it is truly meant to be–an acknowledgement of respect. The in-laws who force this ritual have done nothing worthy of anyone’s respect to warrant it, which makes the symbolism incredibly hollow. To me, they are not carrying on traditions–they are bastardizing it and making it into something ugly that fits their agenda. This becomes especially true when you look at how this is a tradition not enforced by the wife’s parents. Have her parents not “walked long enough on this land” and acquired enough wisdom that they wish to impart? If that was the real reasoning, should the husband not be under equal pressure to seek his in-law’s blessings? After all, elders are elders, and wisdom is wisdom, right?

    2. “Sari is more than just a traditional attire.” — So is a dhoti. So is a veshti, so is a kurta, and a lungi, and a turban, and various other men’s attire. Men’s attire has, or it should have, the same cultural weight attached to it as women’s attire does. But men are never forced to wear them, it is always a voluntary decision. The times that I decide to go to my temple in jeans and a t-shirt, I’m subjected to people telling me that I should “respect my culture”. But it’s perfectly okay for my dad to wear his shirt and track pants. His respect for our culture is something that is NEVER questioned because of his clothes. Similarly, I have met many women who wear saris, but are awful people not worthy of belonging to any culture in this world. Yes, cultural clothes are important, but they should NEVER be enforced upon people. And the people who choose not to wear them should never have their integrity as a human being questioned for it. The fact that this only happens to women is even more problematic.

    3, The third one is something that you do entirely out of your own choosing. You like waking up early. I hate it. I like my sleep. I like waking up without having to listen to an alarm clock or annoying people. I like knowing that even though I am not an early riser, I am well rested enough that I can tackle the day and accomplish twice as much as someone forced to wake up early. It boils down, almost ENTIRELY, to personal choice. No one should be told that they HAVE to do something a certain way, just to please someone else at the expense of their own well-being. Such decisions rest only on the shoulders of the daughter-in-law. If you want to be self-sacrificing, or if you get a kick out of waking up early, go ahead and do so. But that same expectation should not be placed on everyone.

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  10. I think the response just missed the point completely. What everyone is complaining about is not any of the traditions themselves. It’s the unfair burden of those traditions being placed on women and without a choice. For e.g. I found it weird but did not have a problem when I was told to touch my in-laws feet when we met them for a visit because even though I did not believe in it I could see that all their children were doing it and it was a family tradition. However when some other much younger relatives visited and I the “bahu” was asked to touch their feet while no one else was it was a problem to me, because it was clearly a display of hierarchy.
    Now my yardstick for deciding whether something is unfair or not is, would a similar expectation be held of their son-in-law. If “no” the answer is quite clear and I won’t do it. It’s amazing how this applies to pretty much everything and just simplifies the whole mess.

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  11. Show me one ‘tradition’ which is good for the womenfolk. Most involve
    a. fasting for others’ benefit and upliftment
    b. giving up other very important things like sleep
    c. looking pretty to please others
    d. keeping their opinions to themselves for, you guessed it, others’ peace of mind and sanity.

    Not working for me, thank you.

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    • The last expectation is the most galling. Middle class women are as educated and contribute to the family more than men. Show me a man who works full time and is still the primary parent who manages the house.
      I think such men are so rare so as to be nonexistent.
      How many women routinely manage a career AND children AND a house?

      Despite contributing as much if not more, the heavy and unfair burden of tradition is still placed on already burdened female shoulders.

      Indian society then has the nerve to call women the weaker sex, the liabilities that nobody wants to give birth to. Its just so sad, all this prejudice and all the double standards.

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  12. Pingback: Interesting stories for Indian women this week!

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