Tuesday, August 7, 2012

We have three children....and..oh yes one daughter too...

This being the Malayalam Ramayana month (Adi maasam in Tamil), I decided to start introducing Mayini to Lord Rama's story. So Ayodhya's noble king took centerstage at last night's story time. And that's when not-so-adept-in-mythology-me thinks aloud a wee-bit confused; ''Is Sumitra King Dasharatha's third wife or is it Urmila!?'' So here goes daddy into the all-knowing Google. While he did confirm it is Sumitra, daddy also chanced upon a little-known fact about Rama. Ramanand Sagar (the one who brought Ramayana into our living rooms) also failed to highlight this factoid. Even my religious granny had never spoken about it so far. Today, over our daily phone call, my mom-in-law also professed not knowing about it untill now. I guess most Hindus in India do not have a clue about this. Now why I am going on and on about it, that too on FB, where it is generally not fashionable to talk about mythology? Because this little obscure point touched a raw nerve in me, in the light of recent incidents in India. All relating to women's fate and rights.

All along I thought Lord Rama had three siblings (brothers). But, according to google wikipedia, Lord Rama was King Dasaratha's second child. The king first had a daughter, Shanthi, through his first wife Kausalya. Shanthi was born handicapped. Rishis proclaimed that this was because of consanguinous marriage between the king and his wife from the same gothra. The royal couples, on the advice of these rishis, gave away their daughter in adoption to another royal couple.With their care, Shanthi's condition improved and she started walking and even got married. The point is, only one obscure version of Ramayana mentions about Shanthi. For some reason I, as a woman, feel wronged!!!

This google revelation triggered memories of another incident. I had felt equally enraged then.
When I first moved to Bangalore after marriage, our next door thaatha (granpa), a retired Armyman, who ALWAYS spoke in English even though we both knew Tamil, said something that clearly, without a doubt, sans any confusion, reflected the true, stinking attitude of most Indians. Very proudly he said, ''We have three children.'' He then gloated over his three sons' educational, professional and family history. AND AS AN AFTERTHOUGHT, after several long minutes, he said, ''Ahhh, we also have a daughter. We have married her off to an IT guy.'' So, the daughter doesnt count as his child???? For political correctness I am not mentioning which community he belonged to. But I am sure, no matter which community you belong to, deep inside most Indians' heart, there is very little space for daughters - mere liabilities.

Well, from Rama's times till today, very little has changed. King Dasaratha performed Yagas and rituals to have at least one son as a heir to his throne. Today, after centuries of civilisation, people opt for ultrasound scan and downright murder of the female child, caught as they are in their sick and mad favourof the male child.

Just pay a visit to the GH in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, to keep a count of the shocking number of girl children abandoned by cruel parents. Also visit the houses of these children to witness the painful depression and mental trauma of the mothers who were 'forced' to abandon their little ones, right after delivery.

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