Monday, November 9

For your life

If someone were to say that India is largely a patriarchal society, I doubt we'd hear too many dissenting voices. Deeply ingrained in the so-called culture, it isn't an ideal state of affairs, but you do what you can to go against this norm. Once in a while though, you can run across some particularly outrageous notions that'd fell you faster than an Andy Roberts bouncer. 

At home, for many years, Diwali has been a low-key festival; lighting lamps, making the effort to be at home and maybe taking stock of the guest-driven mountain of sweets & savouries that accumulates despite our weak protests. A death in the family means there is no celebration at all that year. And early this year, Alzheimer's claimed my grandfather. Naturally, when the topic of Diwali came up, I was mildly surprised and asked why the discussion was even happening. 

Various relatives looked at me quizzically (admittedly a common expression) and explained that we could celebrate Diwali because my grandpa happened to be my mother's father. To say that I was astonished is putting it mildly. Here I was, naively under the impression that the lack of celebration was a mark of respect for the dearly departed only to be corrected and explained to that it did not apply to me (and my family); only my grandpa's sons and their families need mourn. 

Mother. Of. Fucking. God. 

I suspect the expression on my face must have been something substantial because it swiftly quelled anyone who brought up this little bit of cultural legalese. It's one thing that we need to live in a male-dominated society. It's another that funeral rituals are basically rigged to keep the women out. And it's completely WTF that, long after the smoke & ashes have drifted away, we're still tied down to this ridiculous standard. 

The long and short of it is that we won't be celebrating Diwali either. Not because it's culturally called for, mind you, but because I think we shouldn't.

The hysterical part of it all is the fact that I know my grandfather would have agreed with them and not me.

Song for the moment: Let's dance - David Bowie

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