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11 Strange Things Indian Moms Want Their Kids To Follow

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Indian moms are famous and infamous for their ability to care for their kids and become supremely over-protective of them!

Each mom has her unique style — but there is a definite pattern to the Indian-Mom-Association (a figment-ed association that I believe does exist, because of the commonality of their thought processes, irrespective of language and region! Indian moms have a “pattern” of things they tend to follow.).

I have this humongous list, but let’s start with my top 11 (may add more later).

    1. Do NOT drink cold water after eating or drinking something hot. It could give you a cold and cough. Now there is absolutely no science behind this! It’s an age old tradition. The interesting bit here is that I am yet to meet anyone who has caught a cold/cough by drinking cold water after hot.  
    2. Do NOT sleep without washing your feet, else you shall have nightmares. Now this one has absolutely no justification except that possibly in ancient times, people didn’t have slippers and hence may have brought in dirt and germs etc to their beds. I know of enough people, me included, who have snuck into their bed without washing their feet, and have reported no nightmares at all. Then of course, there are those who shall not admit to doing “this” at all!
    3. Do NOT wear black at anyone’s wedding. Considering that I actually look good in black, this is by far the most annoying one! Wearing black is supposed to indicate that we bring ill to the newly wedded couple. In some belief systems, black is the colour for Shani (bad luck), who is the lord of hardship, and hence, the colour black would bring them bad omen.
    4. Do NOT gift anything black for a wedding — not even if it has a dot of black. This is apshagun (inauspicious). You cannot do this to the newly wed couple…. What will their family say? Read this with point three above! The black no-no applies even more stringently to gifts for the newly weds!
    5. Do NOT dream of “getting bad grades”. What will Malhotra Aunty think? Getting good grades for your neighborhood aunty is perhaps the most ridiculous thing Indian moms do and say. The biggest tick which Indian moms seem to have is what the people in their circle will think. The thinking would range from “She didn’t bring up her kids well” to “See, she is such a careless mother” to “She must be illiterate, hence her kid got less marks”. The unfortunate part is that almost all neighbours want to know how much the other’s kid scored, but those very neighbours do not share their own kids’ marks (This you can verify yourself if you are an Indian or have an Indian mom, by noticing what your neighbourhood aunties talk about).
    6. Do NOT marry a girl/boy of your choice. It’s against our family values and traditions. You should go for arranged marriages instead of marrying for love, because “traditions” say so. The funny part is we as a culture have had age-old love marriages and elopements, and folklores written about them. There exists glorified love as there exists Bollywood love. But Indian moms don’t want their kids to go for a love marriage! This is also based on the age-old caste system. One of the beliefs is that people of the same caste have the same family system or at least similar ones, which ensures a higher chance for the marriage to succeed. The second belief system is stemmed in the engrained “caste is everything” culture.
    7. Do NOT wear short clothes (this is only for Girls), lest you get attacked or raped. All Indian moms blame short clothes for girls getting attacked/raped. This belief is widely held and propagated by all Indian media of communication, including influencers in elected offices and religious leaders.
    8. Do NOT teach my kids anything about sex/sex education in school! This is against tradition. From the land of Kamasutra and the world’s single largest and fastest growing population, we still hide from sex education. This leads to kids learning about sex from porn. But Indian moms don’t want to “pollute” their kids with information about sex as part of a formal sex education class.
    9. Do NOT enter the kitchen “my bachcha”, you are a boy! Your wife shall cook for you (this is only for Boys)! Indian moms teach their sons to be fully dependent on the female of the house for all household chores, including cooking, and ensure that the picture of a perfect wife is mixed up with an ideal maid servant. Indian moms don’t teach their sons that cooking is a “life skill”, essential for survival, Instead, they define it as a gender-role, i.e. the wife we get you shall be a good cook.
    10. Do NOT blame my son for eve teasing/rape/molestation. The girl was asking for it. Just look at her simper in those clothes, making eyes at my boy! And of course, “Boys will be Boys!” This is the worst thing ever that an Indian mom does! She doesn’t teach her son to behave well with women. And if her son is caught doing something to harm a girl, she lays the blame entirely on the victim and takes the side of her son! As a legal activist, I have seen this happen.
    11. Do NOT allow your daughter to “not cook”! After all, her round rotis shall impress her MIL and her hubby, and that’s the secret to a successful marriage (taught ONLY to daughters by Moms)! Moms of girls teach their daughters to be the chef, doormat, maid etc, and how to impress everyone at her in-laws’! They teach their daughters to think of the to-be-in-laws first. How round rotis can make a good marriage beats me.

Some of these Indian mom traits are funny, and some are steeped in our own patriarchal thinking and upbringing that define gender roles. We all love our moms, and yet, many a times, we see them (even our own) display many of these traits.

You tell me, which of these traits does your Indian mom display?

About the author: Malavika Sharma is a social entrepreneur and activist. You can read more by them here.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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