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).
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.