Written by: Akankshya Narayan
We live in a world where polygamous relationships are still new and not widely accepted. In India, the Hindu Marriage Act prohibits polygamy and polyandry marriages for Hindu communities. But despite the ban, a village in Rajasthan named Derassr is known for its step back in time of a ritual of men marrying twice.
While it may sound a little trailblazing to the concept of polyamorous relationships, in reality, it is a labyrinth of unfounded beliefs and age-old ideologies.
Derasar, a small village in Rajasthan with a population of 600 families, sticks to polygamous marriages. Almost every man lives with more than one wife in the same house, neither of the wives is privileged to enjoy basic human rights and equal treatment and the second wife is responsible for the future heir.
This tradition started with an old incident where the husband couldn’t have any child from his first marriage, and when he married for the second time, his second wife conceived three children. This preposterous incident compelled the villagers to believe that it is through the second marriage only that a man can become a father.
That single incident was not enough to coerce people of the village to follow this polygamous marriage for ages religiously. So people came up with absurd reasons to convince young men to marry twice. The reason given was that women have to walk for 5 kilometres to fetch water for their houses and cannot do that after getting pregnant. In that case, the other wife takes over all the responsibilities to engage in the household chores.
In short, one of the wives gets to take care of the household, while the other prepares for the role of motherhood.
Polygamy can be revolutionary and advanced only if it is consensual and benefits all individuals involved. But this can be a very toxic place for the partners if forced to carry.
This is the scenario with marriages in Derasar, where men are entwined in this age-old misogynist tradition. Here are some of the shocking realities of polygamous marriages:
The concept of love, understanding and maturity in a marriage is derided in these marriages. Hence, these marriages ostracise women’s rights and their dignity in the family.
It is believed that men marry multiple times to get free house labourers to carry out the tedious daily household works and bring water from far-fetched lands. Some are even referred to as “paani-bais” or “water wives”, which reduces their honour from a wife to a household servant.
Not just this, the cruel and sexist tradition neglects the woman’s health because of which sometimes women have to compromise their lives due to mental and physical torments.
Preserving our culture is important, but not at the cost of basic human rights and violating laws. Traditions that are built on the foundations of superstitions can wreck humanity. It becomes very important for the newer generation to acquire proper knowledge and fight together to end such regressive traditions.