A woman in traditional Indian attire, who gets up even before the sun rises and the rooster wakes up, greets all her elders, finishes with all her household chores and then prays to God for the well being of her husband and family members is the most accepted image of a ‘sanskaari’ Indian woman.
India is a land of diversified cultures but besides these colourful traditions, there exist some restrictions and a set of rules and regulations in our country which are called ‘sanskaars’, and anyone who breaks the norm even a little bit, especially women is made out to be a villain. In this 21st century, when women have surpassed all boundaries and even made their way to outer space, a thought still prevails in our society that women are destined to be confined within the four walls of the house, and the kitchen is their second home. Such biases and prejudices against women not only lowers their confidence level, but curtails their progress as well. Indian society imposes their thoughts and limitations on women, and there are certain things which are mostly normal for a man to do, but if in any case a woman dares to do those things, then she is said to bring disgrace to her family. So, it is very important for all the girls to know about things they can never think of doing, as that might snatch the ‘sanskaari’ tag from them.
While drinking and smoking are normal everyday choices for a man, but for a woman, it is the most daring task which she is not supposed to do because these things don’t suit a girl coming from a ‘good house’. As far as health is concerned, smoking and drinking is bad for everyone but it is an irony of fate that ‘smoking deteriorates a man’s health but a woman’s character’. A woman enjoying a drink and puffing some smoke rings invites stares as if they are aliens.
Globalization has had a strong impact on our dressing sense, food preferences and many other such things. We have embraced western culture wholeheartedly, and wearing western clothes is really very common nowadays. It is as much a choice as wearing any other Indian dress. Even, men in rural areas are also seen wearing western clothes, and nobody has any objection. And yet, in 2018, if a woman who was born and raised in a city wears a short dress, we take no time to label her as ‘characterless’. It came as a major surprise for me when I heard a well-educated member of my family making such statement that any young girl who is stylish and trendy can never be studious, ambitious, intellectual and sincere. Sincerity and being trendy apparently share an inverse relationship. The more trendy you are, the lesser is your sincerity. Some soul-shaking occurrences like rape, which is a major cause of concern today, is the fault of a woman who wears short dresses and ‘instigates’ the rapists. But we still don’t have an answer to the question that how young girls manage to incite the rapists?
Most women in India are not allowed to live life in their own way. They cannot have any ambitions and are not supposed to live alone for pursuing their dreams, because a woman’s character is ‘as tender as a glass’, if there is even a single scratch, then that can spoil her entire life, especially her chances of getting married. And therefore, she can’t take that risk of being single and living alone. Instead, she is required to achieve her ultimate goal of getting married to a man who becomes her ‘saviour’. And, if the lady used to earn before getting married, she should quit her job if her husband wants her to do that. It is very necessary for her to sacrifice each and every desire in her life and obey her husband’s orders to carry forward her marriage because sacrifice and being ‘pativrata’, or acting according to the husband’s commands are the two major traits of a ‘sanskaari’ woman.
It is a taboo for a woman to talk a man or have male friends. ‘Ek ladka aur ek ladki kabhi dost nahi ho sakte’ (A girl and a boy can never be just friends); this is one of the most common sayings in India and hence if a girl and a guy are seen together, then they are either in a relationship or the girl is ‘that kind of a woman’. Friendship between the two cannot happen.
Travelling alone or with friends is a complete NO for a woman. Many cannot imagine spending a night outside the house with friends. They’re given a deadline within which they have to reach back home. In fact, there’s a sense of fear that’s constantly troubling them when they are out at night. Hence, venturing out late at night is a courageous task and is something which is un-sanskaari for a woman.
There are lot more such activities which are ordinary if done by a man, but turn out to be strange and extraordinary if a woman does the same.
If she wants to wear a saree or a short skirt, it is her personal choice and will. It is not about disrespecting your elders or being anti-society instead it is all about standing for your rights and against the meaningless restrictions and impositions which degrades a woman’s progress and development.