burn the patriarchy

There was a death in the family yesterday. A woman died after a prolonged suffering. Yet all the conversations today were about who would perform the last rites as per “Hindu” tradition.

You see, this lady has two daughters and the elder of the two has decided to perform the last rites. The octogenarians in the family obviously choked in response as more words came out in resistance to this idea than their mouth could reasonable handle.

“But, her nephew should do the cremation, a man MUST do this” said one lady. “Why?” I asked. “ that’s the ‘reet’ (practice), has been since eternity.”, “but why can’t a women do it?”, I get stared at like I’ve started spewing blood from my vagina onto the floor. No I haven’t. They just don’t like the questions.

The prescription of these practices is written in the Garuda Purana. Although on reading the translated text I couldn’t find a reason why. But I’m pretty sure it’s the same reason why women are told they should not be menstruating when they visit temples. Ergo, stupidity. Fuckery. Assholery.

This whole trope of “mere budhape ka Kandha” (my shoulder in old age) is congruent with the thought of a man is needed to light the parents pyre. Add to that, after marriage a woman is no longer technically a part of the family (Read: KANYADAN, the most fucking patriarchal tradition treating women like chattel). And no matter how many “beti bachao and Beti padhao” movements we start and endorse, no progress will cometh until we change these entrenched mindsets. Patriarchy and misogyny ain’t going nowhere till we question these rituals that perpetuate inequality.

As for the discussion of the last rites in the family, the daughter of the deceased persisted and is going to do all the rituals associated with cremation. More power to her really.

For the deceased it doesn’t matter really, who does or doesn’t get to light the pyre. But for the progeny, it does.
So let the women be the daughters they were meant to be. Let them hold the flame high, and light the patriarchy on fire.

Meanwhile I’m going to draft another response to another woman’s contention “tell the daughter to light the pyre wearing salwaar kameez, she should have some decency to not wear pants and do these things”.

One battle at a time.
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