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Paper on Superstitions & Women by Santosh Takale at NCSM Kolkata

Paper on Superstitions & Women by Santosh Takale at NCSM Kolkata

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    Paper on Superstitions & Women by Santosh Takale at NCSM Kolkata Paper on Superstitions & Women by Santosh Takale at NCSM Kolkata Document Transcript

    • SUPERSTITIONS AND WOMEN Santosh Hiraman Takale Scientific Officer-F, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay, Mumbai-400 085. (E-mail: santoshatbarc@gmail.com)Key Words: Superstitions, Patriarchy, Rituals, Remarriage, Constitution, Dowry, Polygamy,Malnourishment, Death rate, anemic, UNESCO, Black Magic, WHO.Marathi Words: Kanyadan, Manusmriti, Shudras, Narbali (Human Sacrifice), Bhanamati, Devdasi,Balvivah, DAKIN (Witch craft), Keshvapan, Sati.Abstract :The real cruelty behind the superstitions or blind faith is that, it creates the mental slavery, personstops thinking and opens the doors for the exploitation. Women are the victims of all the exploitationand harassment arising through these superstitions and still they don’t take any objections against that.They believe that, these are not superstitions but the beliefs or customs which gives meaning to theirlife. The women who are exploited due to blind faiths become carrier of them. Then they are passedfrom mother to daughter and Mother-in-law to daughter-in-law.There are many reasons, which make the women superstitious. One of them is unending familyproblems at her home front. She is not equipped with the ways to escape these situations. She facesmore failures, frustrations, grieves in her life. Patriarchy in our society doesn’t allow her to find theout of this maze of blind faiths. Fact that makes women helpless is their inferior position in family,society and religion. In 21st century also, she is unwelcomed from her birth.Long ago we had matriarchy in society. Every major work was done by women; they were able to takedecisions etc. But now the scene has changed. Today women spend their whole life in maledominance. She is brought up with a teaching of her role in life as daughter, wife and mother. She hasto do everything for the man in her life. Her every fast, vow is for her husband or son. If her husbanddied due to any reason, she is considered responsible for the death and ostracized by her family andsociety. As a widow, she is not invited to any religious function or celebration of any auspicious day.Every religion in the world has given the poor treatment to women in every aspect of life. Forthousands of years, this religiousness is being engraved on her mind. The inferiority complex, sorrowsand helplessness of hers leads to the superstitions.According to UNESCO Report 80% women in India are found to be anemic. Due to early marriage,especially in villages, a girl conceives and delivers at a very early age. Five hundred out of a lakh ofwomen die during delivery in India while in other developing countries the figure is 20!Most women are under continuous mental strain for various reasons. Torture by in laws, ignorance ofhusband, lack of recognition and prestige in family, household (homely) conflicts, sexualdissatisfaction etc. shatters her personality. Sometimes she sits sullenly, suffers from palpitation,shivering and twitching of the body, feeling of being choked or of chest being compressed. All theseare mental disorder called Hysteria. Sometimes this is taken as she is possessed by ghost; and for thatsome horrible & monstrous measures are taken. Page 1 of 7
    • The inferiority complex & conflict mind gives birth to some strange things like some marks onwoman’s body, tearing or burning cloths, showering of pebbles (stones) or lemons on roof, etc. This isrelated to some black magic & the women are then taken to some exorcist. Thus the main reason ofwomen being superstitious is her physical & mental illness.Another reason of superstitions in women is our customs & traditions. 150 years ago women were noteducated. She did; whatever she learnt from the pothi, puranas, katha & kirtans. She didn’t have rightto diagnose the rituals. She never asked how & why. She was doing all these rituals full ofsuperstitions with blind faith, just because it was told by her forefather. This mentality leads to somecruel & horrible customs like Devdasi, Sati, Keshvapan, Balvivah, Dakin etc. everything againstwomen.The paper discusses various aspects pertaining to Superstitions & blind faiths. Also shares theexperiences gained during awareness programs on superstitions eradication. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Introduction:Takale Charitable Trust established with main intent of Spreading literacy, Science Communication,Youth empowerment & to eradicate superstitions among masses and ignite them with scientifictemperament & outlook. NGO also works on spreading awareness about safe guarding ourenvironment, Nature & Mother earth by eco friendly celebration of all religious and non religiousfunctions.We all know there are many superstitions and blind beliefs with every, caste, sect, religion & everycivilization. In our society, it is observed that female are more superstitious than their malecounterpart. Just to elaborate I will narrate my own experience, As a part of awareness spreading orscience communication campaign, our team has arranged lecture and observations of solar eclipsethrough telescope at some remote place in Raigad district, just to pass on the message through our ownact, we were having ‘SAMOSA’ and some snacks when eclipse was happening, off course peoplewere curious and doubts related to few myths were asked and cleared by us. But reaction by old ladyaged around 55 to 60 years is worth mentioning. When we were enjoying our snacks, she approachedand asked what, exactly we are trying to convey by doing this, without waiting for answer sheenquired are we pregnant? Off course most of were male & few college going girls, so we said NO.Then she slap back, then Why eclipse should affect you, it affects pregnant ladies only, who take foodin eclipse. Our explanation & justifications were turned down by her age old blind faith & unnecessaryconfidence about it. Two things can be learned from this, superstitions pertaining to celestial bodies orphenomena or snake like species has too much influence on us, because they are imbibe on us sincechild hood, we take them for granted and if someone tries to justify us, we keep giving variousbranching to problem and support our behavior on the basis of some pseudo science. The real crueltybehind the superstitions or blind faith is that, it creates the mental slavery. Here person stops thinkingabout his behavior, Ignores the science he has learned till date & supports his decision, whether it’sright or wrong and opens the doors of mind for the exploitation.As I mentioned earlier women are found to be more superstitious. They are the victims of all theexploitation and harassment arising through these superstitions and still they don’t take any objectionsagainst that. They believe that, these are not superstitions but the beliefs or customs which givesmeaning to their life. The women who are exploited due to blind faiths become conveyor of them.Then these rituals are carried out and passed on from generations to generations ie. from mother todaughter and Mother-in-law to daughter-in-law. They never ask how and why? and the propagation ofblind faith continues. Page 2 of 7
    • The root cause of women being more superstitious lies in the circumstances and society in which theyare born and brought up. One of them is the continuously stressed situation in which she lives. She isignorant about the ways to escape these situations. She faces failures, frustrations, grieves in her life.Patriarchy in our society doesn’t allow her to find the out of this maze of blind faiths. Fact that makeswomen helpless is their inferior position in family, society and religion. In 21 st century also, she isunwelcomed from the birth due to which the male-female ratio is imbalanced, in few states female tomale ratio has gone below 900/1000 and then we have to run the projects like ‘SAVE GIRL’ or ‘LEKLADAKI ABHIYAN’ to balance the drastically reducing number of women. This happens due tomisconception that taking last sip of water from boy ensures your heaven seat or at least he willsupport his parents during their old age. But you all know ‘A son is son till he gets him a wife. Adaughter is a daughter all her life.’ This Land of Rani Laxmibai, Indira Gandhi, Kalpana Chavala,Kiran Bedi & many more still considers girls as responsibility & burden on family, what else otherthan this, you call out dated belief. The bitter truth is that the proportion of female foeticide is muchmore in educated & well to do families compare to poor & tribal communities in India.After independence our constitution has approved the male-female equality. But still this equality hasyet to touch many segments, may be legislative assembly and parliament. May be about jobopportunities as well as equal remuneration for the same work, privilege in property. The controversyis that those are only women who are the toppers of many exams in different fields and those are alsowomen who are deserted, abandoned and become victims of dowry. In India major political parties areheaded by women, but on the other hand the elected female MLAs or MPs are not more than 5%. Thebackward position which women acquire in the society, religion, culture, economy, and politics isrelated to superstitions in different ways.We know long back we had matriarchy in society. Every major work was done by women; they wereable to take decisions. But now the scene has changed. Today women spend their whole life in maledominance. To get married and give birth to a child is just like other work for man but for woman it isher entire being. She is brought up with a teaching of her role in life as daughter, wife and mother. Shehas to do everything for the man in her life. Her every fast, vow is for her husband or son. If herhusband died due to any reason, she is considered responsible for the death and ostracized by herfamily and society. As a widow, she is not invited to any religious function or celebration of anyauspicious day. She even has no right to do ‘Kanyadan’ of her own daughter, whom she held in herwomb for nine months. Just to understand illogical part of our traditional rituals and outcome expectedfrom them, we will diagnose two vratas together ‘ VATASAVITRI’ Vrata & ‘MANGALA-GAURI’.The intent of this two vratas with all ritual together is logically impossible to attain, because oneensures same husband for seven life cycles, who needs to be elder than her, other ensures her deathbefore her husband dies.Today India has progressed in many fields. Still some casts or religions do not allow remarriage ofyoung widow. Every religion in the world has given the poor treatment to women in every aspect oflife. One of the oft-quoted dictums of Manusmriti - a typical male chauvinist code of conduct-says, ‘awoman should always remain obedient to her father in her childhood, to her husband when marriedand to her son in her old age. She does not deserve freedom.’ Even the somewhat liberal poet of thecomparatively recent past, Tulasidas says that, “ Shudras, the insane, beasts and women all deserve tobe beaten.” All other religions are equally high handed towards and discriminating against women.According to the Bible, God made woman for (for giving company and comfort to) man, after manand from the man (man’s rib). This first woman-the Eve- committed the sin of eating the forbiddenfruit of the tree of knowledge, because of which both Adam and Eve the first man and woman of thehuman race were condemned to leave paradise and live their lives on earth. So here also it’s been triedto justify that for grief and sorrows of woman woman was responsible but she is only who wasresponsible for man’s grief and sorrows. Among the Jews, a wife can be divorced on as flimsy a cause Page 3 of 7
    • as burning a bread even if inadvertently. Among the Muslims the woman is made helpless andinsecure by subjugating her in two ways. Polygamy is sanctioned and the right of a very easy divorceto the wife without alimony, is bestowed on the man by the religion. According to the Jains a womandoes not have enough intellect and capacity to understand the meaning and gravity of ‘austerity andpenance.’ Gautam Buddha, one of the few ancient rationalists, too had a poor opinion of women.According to him, Buddhism that was expected to last for over thousand years would, by admittingwomen into the ‘Sanghas’, last for only five hundred years! Thus all religions seem determined tosubjugate women.Her physical & mental illness also causes to make her superstitious. Her health is always purposelyignored, from her birth. She is never given healthy diet. Always fresh & good food is given to a boy ashe is ‘KULDEEPAK’ & the remaining & stale food is given to the girl. Therefore she becomesmalnourished & doesn’t grow well. In addition to this; when she gets around 15 years old, hermarriage is held. In progressive & forward Maharashtra also 40% of women get married before 18 yrsof age. Immediately after marriage she gets pregnant. Now how can a malnourished mother, cannourish her foetus. The child born with very low weight. It increases the possibility of child’s death. InIndia the child- death rate is higher than any other undeveloped country. This fact is then related tosuperstitions. Wish to getting ‘Son’ brings more deliveries or abortions i.e. female foeticides whichmakes her anemic & vulnerable to any disease. This is also related to the heavenly wrath, some onescurse or a spell or sorcery. According to UNESCO Report 80% women in India are found to beanemic. If any women could not give birth to child then she is declared as infertile or barren & she istortured like anything by her family and society. She gets so much tortured that for getting a child shekeeps fasts, makes vows, she goes to Charlatan (so called agents of god) she even becomes ready for a‘human sacrifice’. These truths are now a days publicly know, thanks to Sony TV serial “CRIMEPATROL”.Lack of recognition, respect and prestige in family puts most of the women under continuous mentalstrain, there are other reasons too, torture by in laws, ignorance of husband, household conflicts,sexual dissatisfaction etc. These all factors shatters her personality. Sometimes she sits sullenly,sometimes starts murmuring, talking anything, cries, suffers from palpitation, shivering and twitchingof the body, feeling of being choked or of chest being compressed. All these are mental disorder calledHysteria. People ignorant of scientific reason of such behavior of any women think that she ispossessed by some goddess. The exploitation of this myth is then well known. The possessed ladystarts getting respect & superstition continues creating life miserable for many others. But on contrary,sometimes this is taken as she is possessed by ghost; and for that some horrible & monstrous measuresare taken. The inferiority complex & conflict mind gives birth to some strange things like some markson woman’s body, tearing or burning cloths, showering of stones or lemons on roof, etc. Family &society tries to relate this to some black magic (BHANAMATI) & the women are then taken to someexorcist. Thus the main reason of women being superstitious is her physical & mental illness.Our customs and traditions also contribute significantly to superstitions in women. 150 years agowomen were not educated. They did, whatever they learnt from the pothi, puranas, katha & kirtans.She neither had right to diagnose the rituals nor to question them. She never asked how & why. Shewas doing all these rituals full of superstitions with closed eyes & without thinking, just because it wastold by her forefather. This mentality leaded to some cruel & horrifying customs like Devdasi, Sati,Keshvapan, Balvivah, Dakin.Sati was a religious funeral practice among some Indian communities in which a recently widowedwoman either voluntarily or by use of force and coercion would have immolated herself on herhusband’s funeral pyre. The practice is rare and has been outlawed in India since 1829, But incidentone & half year back at Rajastan is surely a eye opener. Page 4 of 7
    • In Hinduism, the devadasi tradition (servant of god) is a religious tradition in which girls are"married" and dedicated to a deity (God or Goddess) or to a temple and includes performance aspectssuch as those that take place in the temple as well as in the courtly or home context. In the state ofKarnataka in the region of South India the devadasi system was followed for over 10 centuries. Chiefamong them was the Yellamma cult. The extreme limit of these tradition & superstition is‘NAGNAPUJA’ done by Devadasi’s.We usually see many women around having kids at an age of just 15 to 16 years; neither it’s rightfrom the health’s perspective nor is it good for the society. We can find many premature mothers inIndia especially in small towns and villages. During recent survey conducted in India by WHO, 45%women accepted that they got married before attaining the age of 18 years. Legal age for marriage inIndia is 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys. Bal Vivah still prevails in India and there are manyplaces in India where people don’t mind getting their children married before the legal age. Justimagine the situation of a girl who gets married at an age of 10 to 12 years. She is so innocent andyoung to even understand the meaning of the relationships; that little child, who is still at the stage ofplaying and kidding is sent to her in laws after marriage and her parents expect her to be happy. It’stotally out of the sense and indirectly it’s a social as well as moral crime. We are snatchingthe childhood pleasure, experience and all innocence by doing this.Witchcraft is still widely believed in and practiced in many backward parts of India. Vidarbha andMarathwada regions in Maharashtra have been dubbed the witch-killing hubs of Maharashtra wherewomen suspected of witchcraft are attacked and even killed. This tradition is known as Dakin Pratha.In Vidarbha more than 200 cases were registered in respective police stations since 1999 and theycontinue to occur. Most accused witches are widows or destitute women. They just manage theirlivelihood by doing some menial jobs. However their relatives or neighbors have an eye upon theirlanded property or house. As such they need some pretext to throw them out or kill them. Thesepeople benefit from their deaths or banishment from their home and property. The female black-magicpractitioners are generally known as Chetakins. Generally mentally deranged woman or someone whohas turned very vindictive due to some injustice done to her, turns into Chetakin.No wonder that women surrounded by so many adversities- malnutrition, neglect in childhood,ignorance, early pregnancies, deliveries without any medical help, rigors of bringing up the childrenand facing responsibilities without receiving proper training and education-become victims ofsuperstition. Solution to the problem of superstition involves solving all these related problems. Tomake women free from this yoke of superstitions & blind faiths some measures can be taken; 1) Educate the women – Women has to be educated and all help shall be extend to such women to empower and educate other women, as they know the root situation better than anybody. Women shall be trained to keep the scientific attitude so that they can diagnose the rituals & by that they can dare to deny the wrong things. 2) To bring the man-women equality. Women shall be guided to remove the inferiority complex. They have to develop themselves with a confidence. They must be adamant about the same remuneration for same work &their right in the property. 3) Women have to pay attention to their own health, along with their family members’ health, they need to take adequate rest & medical treatment for every illness. 4) Women should take the decision of birth of child by evaluating her financial, physical & mental condition. 5) They should deny the pre-natal sex determination and female foeticide. 6) They has to fight against the cruel customs like Devdasi, Sati, Balvivah. Page 5 of 7
    • 7) They must directly oppose the superstitions like black magic (BHANAMATI), spell, sorcery, witchcraft (DAKIN), possessing, Good omen & bad omen, charlatanry, quackery etc. 8) If women improve her capacity & potential to fight against the sorrows & difficulties in the life, she need not find any false support i.e. superstitions to remove the sorrows.Conclusion:It is clear that Superstitions leads to the most adverse & serious ill effects as far as human civilizationis concerned. They exist due to our ignorance of scientific facts and truths. Education can be bestsolution to this problem. Women are more superstitious due to their inferior position in maledominated society which leads to poor mental & physical health, in order to ensure safety & securityof her own family, they get trapped into this vicious circle of blind faith & rituals. Better publicoutreach program, involving various sects, caste & religion of society will be very useful to eradicatesuperstations. The help of modern technology & electronic media makes such outreach program moreinvolving & interesting for masses, this is my own experience during delivery of more than 300lectures at colleges, Grampnchyat & villages pertaining to eradication superstations about celestialphenomena, Snakes and our old outdates customs, ritual etc. Women are observed to be more keen &sincere towards there all duties. I expect same attitude & support for this movement of ‘ScienceCommunication & Superstitions Eradication’ from them as well all members of society.References:1. Marathi : i. Timiratun Tejakade by Dr. Narendra Dabholkar. ii. ‘Hindu Sanskruti aani Stri by A. H. Salunkhe. iii. Devadasi aani Nagnapuja by Uttam Kamble. iv. Andha Shraddha Nirmulan Vartaptra --- May 2011. v. Jyotiba Phule aani Stri Mukticha Vichar by Dr. Gail Amvet. vi. ‘Vichar & Sanghatana Margadarshika’ --- Maharashtra Andha Shraddha Nirmulan Samiti. (July – 2007).2. English : i. Disappearing Daughters by Geeta Arvamudan.3. Speeches by : i. Dr. Narendra Dabholkar. ii. Adv. Varsha Deshpande.Regards.Santosh Takale,Scientific Officer, BARCPh - 0-9967584554.santoshatbarc@gmail.comPrint only if essential.......SAVE TREES" Go GREEN, Save Earth " Page 6 of 7
    • About the Author :Santosh Takale is senior Scientific Officer (Scientist-F) at Bhabha Atomic Research Center,Mumbai. He has done B. Tech in Mechanical Engineering & advance studies in Nuclear Engineeringat BARC, Mumbai. He has also obtained many certification in the field of Welding, Non DestructiveTesting & Radiation Safety, which includes IWE (International Welding Engineer), Radiation SafetyOfficer & ISNT Level-III in Ultrasonic Testing, ASNT Level II in Radiographic Testing, UltrasonicTesting, Eddy Current Testing, Dye Penetrant testing, Visual Inspection & Magnetic Particle Testing.He is Founder of ‘TAKALE CHARITABLE TRUST’ & ‘Institute for Computer & InformationTechnology. He is President of Sky Watcher’s Association of Raigad. He is also honorary member ofmany of national & international organisations in technical & social field.Santosh has been honoured with prestigious award of ‘PANVEL BHUSHAN’ in 2006, ‘VISHESHGAURAVARTHI’ in 2007 & 2008, ‘MAHARSHTRA GAURAV’ in 2010, ‘YASHAWANTGAURAV’ & ‘RASHTRA GAURAV’ in 2011, ‘PANVEL GUNIJAN, PANVEL GAURAV,UTKRUSHTA KARYAKARTA’ in 2012 for his outstanding contribution in the field of Science &Technology, Science Communication as well as social field.Saalaoya ivaVaqyaa-MmaQyao vaO&ainak dRYTIkaona $jaivaNyaasaazI va %yaaMcyaa sauPt gauNaaMnaa vaava doNyaasaazI ivaivaQa vyaa#yaanaaAMtga-t iva&anaÊ KgaaolaSaas~Ê sap-iva&anaÊ AMQaEaQda inamaU-lanaÊ pyaa-varNa va Aaraogya iSaxaNa ASaa ekUNa 15 ivaYayaaMvarÊ350 vyaa#yaanao do}na 50000 vya@tIMnaa saMbaaoiQat krNyaat Aalao Aaho. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Page 7 of 7