| Status of Widows in India|
Today I started reading S.L.Bhyrappa's classic Kannada novel "Gruhabhanga".
I love Bhyrappas' writing, because of his profound understanding of Indian
philosophies, and his own very harsh experiences of Hindu life. This one begins
with a thirty-one year old widow taking her son to task for not studying. The
fifteen year old son, in response, tells his own mother - "You let me be Munde!
(a derogatory word for a widow), otherwise I am going to ask Rudra the barber to
shave your head!"
The incident was so troubling due to my own experiences of witnessing the injustice meted to the widows, I had to stop reading and reminiscence.
Of course, the novel is set at a time in India where becoming a widow was
considered the worst of a woman's crimes.
You know, I do not believe much has changed since.
Tonsuring of the head might not be as common, although below is a photograph
taken in year 2001 -- widows will not even agree to be photographed, due
to social stigma.
© K. L. Kamat
The Misery of a Widow
In my childhood in village India, the above scene was a common sight. The
kids had been told that the sight of a widow was ominous and many a times, they
would spit and curse at her for what bad luck she might bring. In our
cloth-shop in Honavar, we had a large shelf of sarees meant just for widows.
There were only two choices: plain white, or plain red.
Within my own family, there were widows. My grandma was a widow, and while
she did not shave her head or wear mono-color, she did not attend any family
functions, including the weddings of many her children. Much to the credit of
Kamat family, Kaki was treated with affection and respect, and we did not
tolerate anyone hurling an insult at her.
My mother is a widow now, and I cannot imagine how can it ever be any of her
fault that my father is no more?!
Plight of Widows in India
Bhyrappa and I
Tribute to Grandma
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Saturday, April 3, 2004|
Last Modified: 4/4/2004 8:09:27 PM