Many times we follow certain tradition because we grew up watching others. As we understand sometimes we do ask questions and sometimes it doesn't bother anyone as part of tradition it's more of celebration and social engagement hence it doesn't come out as a question as why do we follow this norm.
"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought" ~ John. F. Kennedy
My story about 'Durga Puja', is somewhat similar to that. Even though born in a Keralite family (Kerala, in South India), I grew up in Pune (in Maharashtra State) and that gave me the exposure to diverse India. The people, food and festivals and traditions. I always felt I am privileged as I got the opportunity to be part of every celebration or festivity whether it belonged to East, West, North and South India - I had friends and their family who had these traditions and festivals that they maintained and celebrated and I just merged with them.
It's with the same spirit I enjoy all festivals here in USA as well. "Sindur Khela" is where every year I look forward to attend as part of Durga Puja, and my thoughts and understanding was limited to as it's part of Durga Puja and it's a fun game. Being a feminist, for me Durga is a symbol of girl-power and every girl must feel proud of being one. It's interesting how we start reading about these when we have to explain to our non-Indian friends about these festivities.
As I read about it, it totally changed me. My excitement and enthusiasm somewhere vanished. My heart started questioning why do I call this a celebration when it's not something that every women can enjoy?
At the same time Durga Puja and Sindur Khela is all about power of womanhood. If that is true then why every woman is not allowed to participate in Sindur Khela?
Why unmarried, widows and divorcees are not allowed to be part of this Sindur Khela, aren't they women? Aren't they powerful?
"Tradition is an explanation for acting without thinking" ~ Grace McGarvie
These thoughts really crushed me and made me feel dejected. In the name of Durga Puja and Sindur Khela it's again the hypocrisy of manhood that is celebrated in the veil of womanhood. The male dominant society created another tradition which seemed like for women to socialize, celebrate and pray for the happiness of husband and children. Shouldn't that be the same for the husband too? He should also pray for his wife and children's happiness so why not men has any traditions to follow? How do we justify single moms or widow moms? Don't they also want their kids to be happy and safe?
"Myself worth isn't determined by others"
Marriage and sindur is all about men and about their manhood. It's not about women celebrating themselves.
I am an ally at the LGBTQ community and I believe in equality in every respect and this is something against my belief. Hence something all these years I rejoiced getting decked up and getting colored in red sindur and socialized with friends and others has made me to think.
I don't think there is sindur khela for me next year because I don't support something that discriminates any human being at any level.
I have though seen and witnessed some of the divorcees participating in Sindur Khela in the events that I have attended and it only made me happy to see that but my real thoughts are with those who are barred from participating in Sindur Khela. In their name, I decided not to enjoy anymore such traditions.
If we believe in all traditions then 'Sati Pratha' was also a tradition that was followed in ancient India and one should follow that too, isn't it?
I think we all must question these traditions just like how we question our constitution because things have to change with time and for the betterment of the human beings and our society. Otherwise, unknowingly we are supporting discrimination and we must not give wrong message if we are sure that we don't support it.
"Life should not only be lived, it should be celebrated"
Now, I am only going back and thinking about those moments where without any idea my heart was enjoying the celebrations and festivities with friends and family...and someone from inside says, 'It's okay because you didn't know about it'!
"Sometimes your heart needs more time to accept what your mind already knows"
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