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Archiver > INDIA > 2001-01 > 0979753256

From: "Marianne de Nazareth" <>
Subject: [India-L] The purdah system, sati & child marriage.
Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2001 09:40:56 -0800
References: <000201c08003$daab71e0$6383883e@default1> <>

The purdah system, sati and child marriage.
As a child of independent India all the 'heathen' practices followed by our ancestors sounded horrific and archaic.Only later when I went into the detailed study of the above did it come home to me the reasons for our female ancestors having to face these 'evils'.I am not condoning any of the practices, I am just stating WHY they existed.

SATI (Sutee,Suti) ---- Sati was an ancient ritual common during the mediaeval times mainly in Bengal,Rajasthan and the Vijayanagar empire in the South.Sati was never in theory a religious obligation,but merely a meritorious act which brought its reward in the next life.It was believed that by burning herself on the funeral pyre of her husband a widow sanctified her ancestors ,removed the sins of her husband and got her eternal reward in 'heaven' for eternity.With all these romantic stories behind it, slowly the practice developed into an obligation, with strong social pressure. What struck me also was the position of these widows in society.It was a life of abject misery where there was no re-marriage,she was expected to eat only one meal a day,she could not dress in anything but old garments and preferably white and sometimes her head was clean shaven.She was almost like an outcaste in society.With no other succour on the horizon I guess she willingly cast herself on the funeral pyre of her husband and immolated herself.Still exists in certain pockets of India.

THE PURDAH SYSTEM---- still exists today in many parts of the world and in India too.The more modern Muslim is accepting change, though very slowly.Women are being educated and that helps to instigate change.You will find the latest designer jeans, worn under the purdah in college!

CHILD MARRIAGE---- Still exists especially in Rajasthan. Mainly came into force to protect the girl child from being violated and to keep wealth in the family.

All the above practices were strongly held in place by men,were brought in by men and eventually will die out hopefully as our women grow stronger and take their own initiative. Education and financial independence has shown a radical change in the mindset of Indian women. Today I am happy to say our Indian women software engineers /Doctors,are sought out the world over for their skills.Whoever heard of an unmarried Indian girl working in say California and living in an apartment on her own in the '50's?There are hundreds of happily adjusted girls doing just that today.They are given equal opportunities to study in their chosen fields.

Every single society the world over had its dark ages.As many in the List point out there are other evils which still remain to be stamped out in other parts of the world.All these were man made and can only be stamped out by us who made them.


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