India may be a land of rich traditions but one cannot deny the fact that most of its rituals and ceremonies are inherently patriarchal in nature. This sends out an indirect message that a woman always needs to depend on a man at every major step in life. Sadly such rituals play an important role in most religious and wedding ceremonies.
That’s why an Indian woman in London who single-handedly raised five daughters decided to conduct all rituals that the family’s men would otherwise perform herself. Her daughter, Hernool Grewal, wrote an emotional post on The Pink Ladoo Facebook page about her mother’s difficult journey as a single parent to five girls in an overwhelmingly patriarchal world after her husband left her.
Here’s the complete text of her post:
"In this photo my Mum is giving me away at my wedding - a cultural custom that is reserved for men. I am 1 of 5 girls, we don't have a brother and our Dad left the scene some years ago. If your father isn’t present at your wedding, it’s expected that you will find some other suitable male to take part.
When my dad left, the community were quick to blame our Mum entirely. Similarly, my sisters and I have had to endure a life time of "don't worry, maybe you'll be blessed with a brother in your next life" type comments. This treatment culminated in a family being uninterested in having my sister's hand in marriage for their son on the basis that our family had too many girls.
Our Mum stood strong in the face of the gossip-making aunties and uncles in our community even though she was probably crumbling and devastated on the inside. She raised us to believe that we do not need to depend on a man for our happiness or emotional/financial stability, and that we should learn to stand on our own two feet as early as possible, and as much as possible. That's why we pushed to have the women in our family take on the roles during the wedding that the men 'traditionally' would have, and we also try to practise this sentiment in our daily lives.
We hope our story can provide support for other single-parent families. Male-centric traditions and customs are just one way of trying to show women that they are nothing without men, but we know first hand that just isn't true - we hope that this picture and this story proves that."