Usha
All through my childhood and teens I wasted a lot of time and effort in pleasing people around me. Somehow it seemed important to keep everyone else happy even if it meant neglect of one’s own happiness. Part of this behaviour could be blamed on nature but lot of it was nurture. In the environment in which I grew up a girl was never allowed to forget that she would one day go into another house and it was very important to be accepted by everyone there by winning them over with one’s kindness, generosity, and willingness to sacrifice and put one’s needs after everyone else’s. And the training began in one’s own house from a very young age. Looking around one saw that it was the norm in the family – women who slogged away from pre-dawn to late hours in the night for the family, women who suffered in the hands of in-laws and husbands and never complained. Living in a family steeped in traditional ways, the injustices were not obvious. It seemed just the way of life and a very normal one at that. And the irony was that these very same women who were victims of traditions were also its chief guardians and keepers of culture. It was their duty to ensure that the traditions were preserved and passed on to successive generations!

True, these traditions were attributed a lot of significance , symbolism and mysticism in order to make them worthy of being preserved. It is all about packaging right? Like a jihadi suicide bomber feeling important about his mission and expecting reward in the life after, women carried on the yoke of tradition and even felt proud of it.

I do not know exactly when but somewhere in my 30s I began to question traditions and began to discard practices which did not seem relevant to my life. I had no problem removing the mangalsutra or not wearing a bindi or not observing fasts (vrats) to ensure my husband had a long life. As for brahminical practices such as madi, echil, pathu and theetu, I discarded them the moment I had my own kitchen.
For the uninitiated , these are Tamil words and I only know the Tamil words for these practices and this is what they roughly are.
Madi is when you ensure purity of the occasion with a head bath and wearing washed clothes that have been untouched by anyone who is not observing madi. In case of accidental contact with someone who is not in a madi state, they bathe again and wear fresh madi clothes or wet clothes to renew their Madi. This is a superior form of untouchability not to be confused with the untouchability practised among castes and was constitutionally abolished.

Echil ( literally meaning Saliva) is mixing food from one another’s plate or touching anything with the same hand while eating food. For example while eating, if you touch the vessel containing rice with the hand that is being used to eat , you have sullied all the rice in the vessel with your echil. Consequence: it becomes unfit for consumption by others and has to be entirely consumed by the person who has sullied it or thrown away. So every time you have touched echil you have to wash your hand before touching anything else with the same hand.

Pathu: Cooked items are usually not mixed with uncooked items like curd, milk, salt, water, oil etc. You cannot touch them with the same hand with which you have touched cooked items. You touch the vessel containing curd with the same hand which has touched the cooked rice and all the curd becomes Pathu and cannot go back into the storage but has to be consumed or thrown away. One is supposed to wash hands every time after touching pathu items and before touching non pathu items. Complicated? ya, if you entered a traditional brahmin kitchen it would be full of people obsessively washing their hands between handling items pathu and non-pathu.

Theetu: This is the opposite of madi. It is a state of impurity when you have not had your bath. it is also observed for a certain number of days when there has been a death or birth in the family. During this period the family does not celebrate festivals or do puja (prayer). A mensturating woman was also considered impure ( theetu) when she had her monthly periods and was isolated. There has been a lot of discussion among Indian women bloggers about this practice in the past month and I am not about to add to all the fuss about a natural biological function in a fertile woman's body.
As far as I know it was essentially a practice among brahmins who were also great observers of madi. I refused to be isolated even as a 15 year old and if that made their gods angry, I was willing to face the consequences. But my sister in law told me how she had to sleep in the bathroom on ‘those’ days because they lived in a small house and there was no extra room where she could be kept isolated. As a teenager she spent those days in fear of cockroaches and rats that had a free run of the bathroom. That made my blood boil. I am not sure if God was happy with her family for treating her like that on her most vulnerable days. Enough said about my thoughts on the practice of isloating mensturating women.

Anyway as I said, I have discarded all these practices many years ago. I keep a safe distance from all these traditions in my normal day to day life and it poses no problem to anyone around me. But when there are occasions when I am forced to be part of functions which involve people who are deluded to be keepers of tradition and culture, I have trouble. I have a choice to pretend and follow tradition and please them or be true to myself and be unpopular. Not just unpopular but I also end up hurting their sentiments. Recently we had a family reunion and a wedding in the family was being discussed. I was shocked at the meaningless ceremonies people wanted to have and the amount of money budgeted for the same. I can understand their insistence on the basic rituals but when they introduced new practices because ‘everyone is doing it these days’ and justify it as a ‘new tradition’ I opened my mouth and became instantly unpopular.
N.e.w T.r.a.d.i.t.i.o.n? do you see the irony, the oxymoron?
If you do not, here is a definition of the word tradition:
1 a: an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom)
(thanks: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tradition)

It doesn’t matter that I or the other person can afford the additional expenditure. It does not matter that by silent acquiescence I can keep a lot of people happy. I do not want to be guilty of being a party to some custom which may become part of ‘tradition’ in the coming years adding to the financial burden of some middle-class tradition-fearing parent in the years to come. simple? sensible? Why is it so difficult to get it across to otherwise intelligent people?

Traditions can be a security blanket when you need something to give you a sense of comfort and belonging. This probably explains the enthusiasm with which the Indian diaspora religiously celebrate festivals in their new homes - celebrating Holi, when it is not heralding spring in their country of residence and Sankranti when it is not harvest time. Tradition can provide a framework for one's life, it can give guidelines but the minute it begins to oppress a certain section of people, it requires re-examination. There is something seriously lacking in your tradition if it needs fear and authority to keep it alive and if it falls flat on its face when faced with rational examination. Such traditions should be questioned and it is ok to discard them if they make no sense in the world we are actually living in. They were observed for a certain reason in earlier centuries and are obsolete in today's context and it is better to shed the excess baggage. That is the only hope for what is good in our tradition in the 21st century. Or else the baby will get thrown along with the bathwater. But I guess that would be ok in the cause of Madi ! ( just kidding hehehe)
37 Responses
  1. Altoid Says:

    Usha

    A topic close to my heart :). Recently I'd written to a group of close friends appreciating a wedding my co-worker had(non-desi)-he and his fiance had a small wedding on the beach in Hawaii(only close friends and family, about 25 ppl at most). Then the newly weds went on a cruise while the rest of the marriage party spent another day or two and left. They found a minister to do the wedding, simple food, all simple(of course the price to fly to Hawaii, lodging etc etc is anything but cheap)...and it immediately started a slew of responses where many of my close friends said exactly this...they all opted to have all the rituals and traditions that one had many years ago just cos its hep, its cool and in style!

    I dont know, to me simplicity is my mantra. Only the bare necessities, the need to be around wellwishers, no put-on acts, no need for political correctness....these things are what matter the most to me. I guess to some they love having the entire city come to their wedding, meet all the people they havent in years(specially if they've moved abroad)...just an occassion to meet and greet, i suppose.

    At the end, I've concluded to each his/her own. If its not your cup of tea, dont do it and dont take it upon yourself to pass judgement on what others do or dont do.


  2. Usha Says:

    Alto: I agree.
    It is the holier-than-thou spirit of sticklers to tradition that gets my goat. You are not better because you following tradition and you definitely are not holier.
    I think we should guard against traditions that involve expenditure for they could actually become a bad practice - dowry must have begun like this and see what a menace it has grown into. people are even killing female babies because of this! So there are times when you have to voice your protest at these pernicious traditions.


  3. Anonymous Says:

    Excellent point wrt the "new traditions" becoming millstones - had never thought of this angle.

    ano


  4. Laksh Says:

    Usha, very well articulated. I agree wholeheartedly! I just wrote a post yest in a similar vein.


  5. Lekhni Says:

    Maybe some of these customs had some contextual relevance in the distant past. But they definitely have no relevance today. It's because people blindly follow them without question that these customs are still around..

    Since when did unquestioning acceptance become part of Hinduism? The Upanishads have people questioning everything from whether God exists to whether all philosophy is bunkum..


  6. DotThoughts Says:

    A post after my heart :) Most rituals are very much out of context these days. Especially weddings and thread ceremonies. I declraed to my MIL that Chip won't be getting his thread ceremony done. It does not make sense. He will be in the middle of second grade (8th year)-no wehere close to ANY milestone. I remember a funny incident about maadi (called sola in Marathi) My grandmother never observed it, but her brother did (all the other things you mention too). Out of respect for him, she was observing maadi one day to make food for puja when I went a touched her. Nobody saw it and she explained to me I could not touch her and shooed me away. Her SIL walked in a minute later and asked her if I had touched and she wanted to bathe again. My grandmother cooly replied I hadn't :)


  7. S.Praveen Says:

    These so called keepers of tradition are total morons and hypocrites. Two years ago, my 12 yr old cousin was shouting for me to open and hold the curtains for her to enter the bedroom in my grandmom's place in Chennai, I thought may be she had some mehndi applied or was carrying something in her small hands and wanted help, I reached out to hold the curtains and when I saw there was nothing in her hand, I asked why she didnt just enter, by then her mom came there telling "adhu appdithaan, she shud'nt touch the curtains". I felt yuck.

    I even remember the hue and cry my extended family made when I stopped wearing my poonal (sacred thread) within months after the ceremony.

    My cousin is in a similar situation as ur SIL, thankfully she doesn't sleep in the bathroom.

    Can u imagine this time and age people can be so irrational and mindless, why the elders,I have seen guys in my own age group following traditions blindly. They are called "samarthu pillai" bull shit.

    Usha, coming to think of it, is this excessively prevalent among the Tambrahms??


  8. A-kay Says:

    I agree with you whole-heartedly - I have heard about these so-called new traditions, as if the 3 day wedding ceremony isn't enough :).

    For me echil is more a matter of hygiene and follow it, after tweaking to my convenience. My take on traditions and practices are that these probably made sense in the time and space that they were originally conceived. Now, we need to adapt these practices and pick the one that suits this age and generation (and more importantly us), and not practice them in a blind-folded fashion.

    You have a lovely blog, mind if I blog-roll you?


  9. sbora Says:

    very well written..

    a lot of people follow these baseless traditions simply because it is convenient or it has been part of their lives for so long that they dont necessarily see the need to question or challenge them.

    I remember when I got married. Both my husband and I wanted to get married the traditional way but we ended up kicking ourselves later on as we had to suffer through a few (but hugely time consuming) useless and unneccessary customs that didnt really make any sense.

    I was honestly quite glad when the long drawn out ceremony ended.


  10. dipali Says:

    This is exactly how I feel, Usha.
    The saddest is when these so-called traditions, both new and old, trickle down to social levels where they are unaffordable but are considered necessary. And traditions regarding women in India- boy, am I glad I was born when I was!
    @altoid: I'm totally with you on simplicity.


  11. awesome post Usha. I bow and touch your feet for your wilingness to move with the times. please allow me this one tradition which ordinarily I HATE. i wish all elders commanded the respect you do.


  12. "It is a state of impurity when you have not had your bath. it is also observed for a certain number of days when there has been a death or birth in the family..."

    eeek! I heard that the mourning is observed for 11 days and all those days like that?
    I am glad that you dont budge to all these unnecessary things, guess your DIL will have a easy time.. ! One thing to feel bad about all these are 'people tend to blackmail on these'

    Another similar post here
    http://www.mysorean.com/2007/04/10/dumb-and-dumber/


  13. Shefaly Says:

    @ Usha: Very interesting post.

    I think traditions thrive in a socio-economic ecosystem, hence the need to invent new ones, that reflect practices that suit how life seems to evolve now. Many practices can only thrive if the social system allows it. If there is no joint family to keep supplies of dinner going, would men in a nuclear family now stand for the women taking 5 days off being 'impure'? Somehow I do not think so! :-) Men are not the only creatures to blame of course, as it is women who enforce these stupid things on women. Some days I am so grateful for having been socialised by my father. I learnt of some of the more obscure North Indian Hindu traditions from my friends' families in my early 20s. _That_ is what I call a blessed childhood, eh!

    A blogger in London, Neha, wrote a similar post a few days ago where I made the point which was sort of lost because of one man fighting from a 12th century perspective. The post is here if you would like to read it.

    http://www.withinandwithout.com/?p=1390

    Thanks.


  14. Prerna Says:

    Excellent post.In fact I can relate to many parts of it.After I got married I also rebelled against certain traditions like wearing a bindi,tow rings,sindur etc and got away with most of them although I lived in a joint family. My father-in-law supported me and I am thankful to him.
    //it seemed important to keep everyone else happy even if it meant neglect of one’s own happiness. Part of this behaviour could be blamed on nature but lot of it was nurture//things haven't changed much in Indian society even now.
    //A mensturating woman was also considered impure ( theetu) when she had her monthly periods and was isolated.//this was the tradition in my nani's house and I made sure that nobody knew about my biological state when I visited her.


  15. maami Says:

    A woman as a body, a physical entity, is a threatening creature.Hence men, in all climes, communities and creed have sought to keep her pathological vitality down.
    Theetu, dooram, aathula ille are Tam Brahm terms we are familiar with. Since we are slow to drop traditions, many of us are confronted with this and feel our selves boiling in rage.
    In the Old Bible mnenstruating women were considered to have supernatural powers, capable of wiccen activity and were not to be trifled with or touched. Old Jewish traditions speak of the need to isolate women on menstrual days. Some African tribes build special huts to isolate women during their bleeding days.
    I mean just think back to cave man times:the blighters hacking bones were scared to bits when those cave girls walked about with blood bubbling forth from their insides and running down their thighs and the illiterate and uninformed brutes were scared out of their wits because the bleeding didn't make the women die like it possibly would if a man were to bleed from his loins continously for 4 days. And Martina Navratilova said she played her hardest tennis when she mesnturated.No wonder the men heaved a sigh of relief when she announced her lesbian status!
    Sorry usha, naan aathula ille, so late to join in!


  16. Usha Says:

    anitha: :)

    Laksh: I read the post and ya, our experience and reaction seems so silmilar.

    Lekhni: Totally agree on both counts.

    Dotthots:Hehehe. Just the kind of thing I'd have done too...

    S.praveen:I am surprised that your cousin doesn't rebel!
    I think we are familiar with the tambrahm scene so we think that it is excessively prevalent among them. I have known some Kannadigas here who are still very meticulous about madi and traditional rituals.
    Perhaps it is more among Brahmins everywhere.

    a-kay: I understand your take on echil. But even if your plate touches the vessel or even if you are using a spoon to eat, it is supposed to be echil. All this seems a little overboard, no?

    sbora:I totally agree that people's reluctance to re examine some of these or give them up is out of a choice for the line of least resistance. Easier to conform and please rather than rebel and incur displeasure.

    dipali: I think you should also be glad to be born 'where" you have been born - to liberal thinking parents!

    The MM: hehehehehe You are out to embarrass me aren't you? lol.

    veena:I think it is 12 days for death and 9 days for birth after which the purification ceremony is done. Will check out the post referred.

    Shefaly:These New traditions seems mostly to flaunt your wealth or to do one beter than the joneses which is what irritates me. For example, South Indian weddings were mostly austere, vedic ceremonies. Now they want to celebrate every wedding a la Hum aapke hain kaun - sangeet, mehndi etc...and a lot of extravagant spending. The more lavish the wedding is the better it is rated. Now this will certainly raise the expectation levels causing more stress on the girls' parents. Imagine how many middle class parents can afford all this?
    As for the 5 days impurity -that is another farce. Guess what, you are allowed to have a bath and enter the kitchen after 3 nights. So you may be bleeding for 5 days but you need to be isolated only for 3 nights.
    Oh the level of hypocrisy that goes with the observation of all this - don't even get me started on that.
    I was shocked at some of the comments on Neha's post.

    prerna:The level of oppression and discrimination is reducing but yes not as much as we would like (if we are to believe what the serials show!) But it seems that there are still those who think that ALL traditions must be preserved at all costs - it is these people who scare me.

    Maami: Those are very revelatory. I wonder when the oppression actually started. One doesn't read much of this practice in mythology except in Draupati vastrapaharan scene. And she did pray to him and he did come to her rescue.
    Another interesting point I read somewhere was that when they were still hunter-gatherers, women were left behind on those days because the animals could smell menstural blood and this was a handicap while hunting.
    Achacho athule illiya, mama daan samayala? kalaimagalum manjariyum kondu vandu tharatuma?


  17. nrimaami Says:

    Firstly, well written post. I appreciate your view point though I don't whole-heartedly agree. I feel it is important to pass on traditions to the next generation, and there is no way of doing it unless practiced. I do miss the 3day break every month I used to get at M-I-L's place. That time was well spent catching up on reading. I don't get that anymore being in the US and all. However, I was not subjected to sleeping in a bathroom, which probably explains why I didn't loathe it either. I think traditional weddings are more fun and exciting - of course I have never spent on one and that might change what I think. I've never been a champion for solemn wedding ceremonies - I think that really doesn't give the event as much as joy as it's worth.
    These are again personal opinions and my 2 cents to your interesting post.


  18. nrimaami Says:

    Btw.. now you're probably thinking.. "Now I know why she calls herself Maami, when shez not even 30" :D


  19. Sands Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. Sands Says:

    Been following your blog for a few weeks now. Couldn't agree more with you. Very nicely written.


  21. I love Lucy Says:

    You said it,Usha!
    In fact,some of these Brahmanisms do not even make sense to me.Someone in the family passes on and their folks call up relatives to inform them about it.The said relatives immediately proceed to
    "take a head bath" as it is known colloquially!
    I remember vividly about how these silly customs of convenience annoyed me no end during the planning of my wedding.My husband's athai used to come up with all kinds of impropmtu customs that were unheard of but suited them just fine!In the end,it almost became a tug of war for oneupmanship inspite of the fact that both my parents and in-laws are reasonable folks otherwise!


  22. Usha Says:

    nrimaami:Yes it does explain your name.:)
    If I need rest, I would just go and rest rather than use a back door ( no puns) of tradition.
    I am all for preserving what is good in our tradition too as it gives a context to the way of life that we are comfortable with. But certainly not stuff like karadayan Nombu and sumangali prarthanai.
    I am all for fun at weddings but the minute it involves expenses and obscene amounts of it, I draw the line.

    Sands: Thanks.

    Ilovelucy:hahaha, every tambrahm family has these stories and loads of them. :)


  23. Suki Says:

    Wow, I found myself cringing at your description of these rituals! Now I realize that no one I know is particularly big on rituals, but I still rebel against whatever I see, can't help it.

    "Tradition can provide a framework for one's life, it can give guidelines but the minute it begins to oppress a certain section of people, it requires re-examination."
    - That said it all!

    Will totally agree with Altoid on simplicity, and Shefaly on the socio-economic reality of traditions.
    Sometimes I try to get to the bottom of our traditions, and I find all of them began as something very logical and sensible, in the context. It's sad that we(?) continue to embrace them so blindly instead of shaping new habits to suit our context.


  24. Mama - Mia Says:

    usha - very true!

    somehow my parents were never high on any rituals. we had one frame of some god (we didnt even know which god it was) and annapurna and bal-krishna that my mom got along with her at shaadi stayed in the kitchen wherever.

    one day my cousin said why dont you do "visarjan" of these gods and chuck them rather than keep them like this wo any puja ghar or puja ever done!!! WTF!

    god dont give a damn about where you keep them, how do you pray to them or what you eat! if he/she was to be wrorried about such silly things, wont be god at all!

    i guess each one should follow traditions that suit them. weddings are lot nicer when simple!

    yet i cant deny the charm and fun of sangeets and mehendi!! i married into a northie family! after a simple and dull maharashtrian wedding when i went to sasural all sobbing and crying imagine the welcome. darwaaza roka, then games of finding the ring and untying the knot etc! and the impromptu sangeet! i felt at home immediately!

    at the same time i made sure, our wedding put no pressure on my parents. no extra frills and snazz! no hotel rooms booked for boys side! rehna hai toh hall mein raho! traditional marathi food not corrupted by paneer masala that incresed the per plate cost by 20bucks!

    i guess if one can afford the big fat wedding they should do it! if the girl's family cannot but boy needs it, let HIM pay for it!!

    what gets my goat is when girls themsleves say "shaadi ek baar hi hoti hai, so make it kingsize!' and i would say at the cost of breaking your parents back? and they would be like thats how it is!!aaaaarrgghh!

    am sorry for a post length comment!! :(

    cheers!

    abha


  25. Usha Says:

    Suki:We spend our early years in a certain environment and absorb the customs and practices unknown to us. There is a sense of comfort in doing things the way our moms and grand moms did. In that sense all of us are products of some tradition or other.
    But there is nothing about them that is set in stone and inflexible if the occasion demands it. And imposition of our customs on someone who doesn't need them or feel comfortable about them is what gets my goat. And the explanation "that's how we have always done it" doesn't cut it. I believe the relevance every ritual and custom needs to be examined with time, especially before you impose it on the successive generation.

    mama-mia:I know a lot of people have fixed ideas about how we should pray to god. They do not seem to understand that every believer's relationship to God is unique.
    I am all for a lot of fun and laughter in weddings than the austere ritualistic wedding. Let me give you an example:
    I know a family where there are 2 sons - the first one married a girl whose parents are very rich. So they had a lavish wedding. - all these ceremonies and lot of glitter and gifts and a lot of money wasted. Now the second son is to be married to a middle class girl but the family expects a wedding on the same scale. Is it necessary? They cannot stop talking about their first son's wedding even today - 2 years after the wedding. Now Imagine the pressure on the girl's parents. And they have another daughter. If they do this marriage on a grand scale, they are setting a precedent for the second too. I think we have to stop inventing these new "tradition's which have a rippling effect on society and increase unnecessary expenditure. It is not just a matter of affordability, it is also a matter of a certain level of social consciousness. Two young people are starting their life as man and wife - why make a huge fuss about it?


  26. awesome post,...my thpoughts on weddings are just as you have thought, the wedding celerbration itself is a big waste of time energy,effort,and the costs are shocking, so adding so called "traditional" happenings, just adds to the cost, and the burdens, on the family hosting the function, you are right, doing things in the name of tradition, when they are pointless, and have no place in our lives, should be dropped forthwith. i am all for the simple things in life.


  27. Nita Says:

    Usha, very well written and analysed. It's good to hear that after marriage women get the confidence to throw off some of the age-old meaningless traditions which are suffocating. I confess I have always been a rebel, since childhood. My mother true tried to infuse in me the "virtuous" traditions you mentioned but she failed miserably. I guess I was secretly egged on by my dad who I was always closer to than my mom. Once I reached my teenage years my mother threw up her hands in despair...I had become irreligious, irreverent, and defiant! My dad was proud of me! heh heh! Strangely as the years rolled by, I actually mellowed and I guess this is because I married a man who was indifferent to the fact whether I followed tradition or not. If I broke a tradition I expected him to react, like there was a reaction in my home (either supportive from my father, or disapproval from my mother) but he never reacted. He was usually amused! Slowly, my defiance and rebellion vanished and today I actually don't mind acceding to some of my mother's very minor demands, because I am clear that I am doing it to make her happy and not because she is forcing me to do it, or because I believe in it. When something is a little thing I do it, because I know I am free.


  28. Vamsi Says:

    Usha:"I had no problem removing the mangalsutra or not wearing a bindi "

    I would like to add a comment over here. Of course I have no objections wrt removing the mangalsutra or so what ever when someone believes that its insignificant. But I know people who remove mangalsutra the moment they enter U.S. and wear it once they come back. If they think it is so insignificant, they could have abandoned it in the first place itself.

    What all I want to say, Let our actions be from our own mind rather than out of peer pressure.


    Peer Pressure is ruling our actions. Some of our traditions are thrown out bcaz of peer pressure. some of NEW traditions were created by the same peer pressure.

    --Vamsi


  29. Usha
    This was an execellent post - well thought out and well reasoned. I was nodding my head vigorously in agreement as I read it !

    I feel truly inspired by your courage to fight the system that makes no sense.


  30. Usha Says:

    africanfragments: and some customs have become so expensive to keep up with ( eg: many customs related to weddings) and these should definitely be examined.

    Nita: Looking around, it seems that women find it more difficult to give up tradition than men.
    When something is a little thing I do it, because I know I am free.
    I agree with you there.If it is a harmless placebo I have no problem.

    Vamsi: Ya many people do not believe in many customs but just pretend to observe them to please their parents or in-laws. They do not want to risk an open confrontation on something which they do not care about. :)

    Ranjani: :) thanks.


  31. Anonymous Says:

    hi usha, i was just browsing to find a gift for aq friends daughter who has just started to mensturate. i read yr article and was gone into flasback scenes. my fil would not see me for those three days.And this was practised till about 2 months ago till he was alive.how disgusted ,humuliating and a feeling of unwanted feeling prevailed where i was helpless to do a damn!my son is 14 and too many questions to answer and usual dialogue form hubby darling!i am happy it s over and keeping fingers crossed the son doesnt take over the son!???i always used to miss not having a daughter but not anymore poor she would also have to go through all this?i nowadaysonly request friends and elders in thhe house to leave the young girls alone!bye
    sudhayappan@yahoo.co.in


  32. Anonymous Says:

    Excellent Post!!Hats off to you!!!I hope everyone thinks like you and moves forward..
    Been reading all ur post for past few days ..this post made me comment..;-))..


    Sudha


  33. Don't know how to address you but will call you Usha. Haats off to you. I have been reading your blog for the past week. I truly enjoy your arguments and view points. This topic and many others you have written on society and tradition are close to my heart. A tambram branded a rebel, unmarried at an age my mother thinks old, in a profession not suitable for marriage (lawyer) have a boyfriend younger to me by two years and not a bram. My family is going ballistic. Being the youngest I always had freedom to do things the way I wanted and got what I wanted. Attained puberty at 11 and never understood why I had to be in the balcony and sleep there. My family doesnt see a problem in that. Recently a few years ago my sister and I refused to follow the rules of "athula illai". I have never been able to make peace with a lot of traditions and never fought hard either. I always buckled down under family pressure. Recently branded as being selfish and insensitive to parents needs at my wish to find someone on my own and outside the community!
    I cannot express my gratitude at your thoughts and giving me an opportunity to connect here with like minded people. I am not a conformist and refuse to be one. I was raised to believe that one doesnt have to be god fearing it is only god loving and i stick to that.

    Apologies for the long comment. Would love to connect more please do write.

    With lot of respect

    Subhashini


  34. InteroDonna Says:

    Usha, a new post in my blog and a curiosity to see what the world thinks of "madi, theetu" brought me to this post of yours! :)

    I love your post. Am so glad to know that you chose to do what you wanted to do in your life finally! I mean, to be brought up in one way and to leave all that behind takes a lot! I truly appreciate your strength and will power.

    My latest post is partially based on this- On the belief system - to understand and respect the beliefs of other ppl, give them their space to decide whats best for them and at the same time never give up on yours!

    I have saved your blog to my favorites. :)


  35. Gayathri Says:

    Hi,

    Well written post; though I could relate to the thoughts. Some I don't agree like nrimaami.

    I have been in the tambram fam & all the traditions that is being followed - was explained with the reason & like A-kay said I have some modifications.

    Technically patthu & non patthu makes sense when things are being done in hurry burry stages... science proves why they had laid down to follow such rules. Contamination, not when you just touch the vessel - when you mix up using cooked & non cooked. My MIL doesn't follow much of these & I see how good they do it here - we end up buying a nestle or amul dahi because she ends up spilling over some rasam, pickle etc

    Well - if someone understands the contamination part & does it spick and span its good not to follow.

    If you didn't know eating with hands is more hygienic compared to spoons because you are less likely to get infections that way! And that's where this tradition comes from. But whoever passed on didn't give the right picture thats why it all sounds obsolete.

    Madi....again is for personal hygiene than doing for god! God is everywhere. When a human body lies down for hours together in scriptures it is considered as good as dead body... and science says the toxins released during the wee hours are good to be washed off to start a healthy fresh day!

    To get done something they had to lay down rules & hide stuff!! Thats the only way people accepted. Even now you have such clans. Who don't understand or even attempt to understand why such a tradition was followed or relate to their ancestors. They consider ancestors as stupid jug heads. who knows what will the next gen talk of them!

    Talk about taking bath after hearing a death...it was required for all those present in the death house because those days death was only through ill health whose way & means were unkown.Now, we only observe the days of theetu as a part of condenlences or tribute to the departed soul.

    I hope more people actually try to understand what was followed, why & then relate before discarding or changing. Simply calling such traditions as namesakes sounds very disrespectful.

    Did anyone know til used in our traditional amavasya tharpanam has cosmic powers? Who bothered to understand our scriptures, people talk great of our scriptures after Russians found til has cosmic powers!!!

    From my mid teens I have seen in our house menstruating women were given good comfort and left to take the day off while men help on the home chores.. this is to cope up with PMS & such than talking on madi & god! In kerala Goddess herself has 3 days off monthly!

    I don't want to wage a war against anyone - but I feel so pathetic when people don't understand culture & then act. Don't blame traditions/culture.blame the people who couldn't learn or tell you what it is!!


  36. Gayathri Says:

    Hi,

    Well written post; though I could relate to the thoughts. Some I don't agree like nrimaami.
    I have been in the tambram fam & all the traditions that is being followed - was explained with the reason & like A-kay said I have some modifications.

    Technically patthu & non patthu makes sense when things are being done in hurry burry stages... science proves why they had laid down to follow such rules. Contamination, not when you just touch the vessel - when you mix up using cooked & non cooked. My MIL doesn't follow much of these & I see how good they do it here - we end up buying a nestle or amul dahi because she ends up spilling over some rasam, pickle etc Well - if someone understands the contamination part & does it spick and span its good not to follow.

    If you didn't know eating with hands is more hygienic compared to spoons because you are less likely to get infections that way! And that's where this tradition comes from. But whoever passed on didn't give the right picture thats why it all sounds obsolete.

    Madi....again is for personal hygiene than doing for god! God is everywhere. When a human body lies down for hours together in scriptures it is considered as good as dead body... and science says the toxins released during the wee hours are good to be washed off to start a healthy fresh day!

    To get done something they had to lay down rules & hide stuff!! Thats the only way people accepted. Even now you have such clans. Who don't understand or even attempt to understand why such a tradition was followed or relate to their ancestors. They consider ancestors as stupid jug heads. who knows what will the next gen talk of them!

    Talk about taking bath after hearing a death...it was required for all those present in the death house because those days death was only through ill health whose way & means were unkown.Now, we only observe the days of theetu as a part of condenlences or tribute to the departed soul.

    I hope more people actually try to understand what was followed, why & then relate before discarding or changing. Simply calling such traditions as namesakes sounds very disrespectful.

    Did anyone know til used in our traditional amavasya tharpanam has cosmic powers? Who bothered to understand our scriptures, people talk great of our scriptures after Russians found til has cosmic powers!!!

    From my mid teens I have seen in our house menstruating women were given good comfort and left to take the day off while men help on the home chores.. this is to cope up with PMS & such than talking on madi & god! In kerala Goddess herself has 3 days off monthly!

    I don't want to wage a war against anyone - but I feel so pathetic when people don't understand culture & then act. Don't blame traditions/culture.blame the people who couldn't learn or tell you what it is!!


  37. Anonymous Says:

    Hey,

    This struck a chord in me the moment I stumbled on this post. The first thing that springs to mind when I think of this topic is my cousin. She has been brought up in an orthodox family setting following all these things and she's been married into an even more orthodox family. The result? A woman in her late twenties now, she has to wear a 9 yard saree to do anything in 'madi', stay away from everyone during the 'three days' etc. Apparently, if she wears a clean, fresh set of clothes, it does not satisfy the madi rules; she has to wear a 9 yard saree in the north karnataka style (with a kacche and all that, looking like a heroine from a black and white kannada mythological movie). I don't have a problem with that if she were to like wearing one or believe in it, but no, its down to following rules laid down by her M-i-L. I have never understood when God appeared and gave saree styles as required for being devoted to Him. Devotion, sincerity, discipline I can understand, but sari and hairstyles for worship? Beyond me.