Saturday, July 14, 2012

Time for a Volte-Face

On a scorcher, when I was comfortably seated in the office cab, travelling from Ascendas to Ambattur, I gazed at a hoarding as I was in my usual auto-pilot mode. It was a billboard which all of us would have sighted many a time, but unusually that one got my back bone straight and I shook myself a bit to take a good look at it.  It was a huge hoarding of a teeny-weeny girl, who attained puberty recently and the billboard was erected to request the passers-by to bless her. The names of ‘Thai mama, amma, appa, thatha and paati’ of the girl were also printed in bold fonts and duly followed by their educational qualifications. I took a deep breath and decided that I would jolly well record my opinion about the folks who religiously follow the rituals and conveniently ignore the underlying meaning of the customs.

I can still remember an occasion which I attended when I was a school kid. A teenage girl was made to sit in a fancy chair on a huge stage, the hall was packed with happy relatives celebrating the girl’s puberty and 100 pairs of inquisitive eyes were on the girl. The girl’s family wore the look of busy-bees and made the girl slip into multiple costumes. The funniest part was that the girl was made to act like Goddess Lakshmi and Saraswathi and was also given a Veena in hand to create precision. The photographer and the videographer were swimming amidst the crowd gathered around the stage to record the most awkward moments of the girl’s life. On the other hand, it was a fat occasion and loads of cash would have been spent for the celebration.

As I was born and brought up in a Brahmin family, I went through the same phase in my life too. In spite of my resistance, my family had to give in for the society and they weren’t able to understand how their daughter would take that. I was also bewildered about the very purpose of celebration, when it’s just done to sustain self-esteem.

A lot of thoughts bombard my mind, when I start to think about the families’ mindset and the rationale to publicize a sensitive thing. Why is the similar kind of custom not being followed when a boy reaches his puberty? With a bit of logic that I can apply, in a way, I would want to infer that such customs were definitely formulated by male chauvinists. Or the families lived in the ancient times would have wanted the society to know that the girl is physically ready to reproduce. It would have been considered as a recognised system, maybe because there were many girls in the family and it would have been a predicament for the families to get them married. But we know what the India’s census results proved.

In the current way of living, I couldn’t find a reason to celebrate a girl’s puberty when it doesn’t add any value to the life of the girl. Why should we have to be celebrating an occasion, when it sabotages the morale of the girls and the families have the least idea about it? In my opinion, following the rituals without establishing and understanding the purpose is a futile act.

In truth, communities have gone through exponential changes and people have gathered courage to drop the pointless rituals, but the families which still get knocked down by mere pressure created by the society should give a deep thought and create their own stance. I would definitely want to be loud about my opinion that the parents should understand the change in the girls’ lives and be of great support to their children.


  1. Priyadarshini KanagarajJuly 31, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    Good one :) I hope our society can get to read this and be enlightened !