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The coming of age of Hinduism?

June 15, 2009

Something significant happened in Thane a few weeks ago. A father conducted the Hindu thread ceremony for his daughter, breaking the man-made traditions of Hinduism. This ceremony, “performed to mark the point at which boys began their formal education” has been compared to the Jewish Bar Mitzah, but the Bar Mitzah is for both boys and girls while the thread ceremony has been thought to be the exclusive domain of Brahmin males. However, if one digs deep enough into the Hindu scriptures there is evidence to suggest that women too underwent this thread ceremony.

This is not the first time that this thread ceremony has been conducted on girls. The followers of Shankar Seva Samiti had organized it in the year 2000 in Pune. It is possible that this ceremony has been performed on other girls too and not been publicized.

Why are these events significant? Aren’t these simply isolated incidents which in no way impact Hinduism specially as the thread ceremony is by itself an exclusive practice meant for only a tiny fraction of the Hindu community, the Brahmins and some other castes?

Maybe. But I think these incidents can have an impact on Hindu society if well known people conduct these ceremonies on their daughters. More important, this could turn into an instrument of social reform if prominent male priests of the country give their stamp of approval. The way it is now, the society as well as the male priests look upon this practice with slight amusement. In other words they simply tolerate it. The male priests refuse to do the ceremony themselves. Whoever wants it done has to call female priests.

I am calling it social reform, not religious, because Hindu scriptures do not ban girls from undergoing this ceremony. There are references to women’s thread ceremonies in ancient Vedic texts. For example The Rig Veda (10.109.4) says, “When a brahmin’s wife wears the auspicious thread, she becomes very popular.” The Harit Smriti also has references to this practice as does the Yama Smriti.

If women do not undergo this ceremony today, it is purely because over the ages the priests, who were mostly men, kept the women out. Today the male priests have an opportunity to change this, particularly the high profile priests. They need to seize this opportunity and take Hinduism a step forward.

The people too play an important role. I cannot help but wonder if those who go through religious rituals like the thread ceremony are aware of the meaning behind these rituals or whether they simply follow these rituals blindly, because of superstition or habit.

For believers of Hinduism, the thread ceremony is significant and sacred. As far as my understanding goes, it was the time when boys left home for their studies, to the gurukul. Today we educate girls, all girls, but the age-old ritual has remained just that – an age-old ritual. It seems to have lost its deeper meaning. If it had kept up with its meaning, I would have kept up with the idea that this ceremony was a kind of coming of age (for education) of children. All children.  Boys and girls. Brahmins and non-Brahmins and Dalits. The way it is today.

The days when non-Brahmins were not allowed study are long gone. Neither do all Brahmins become priests, as they did as at the beginning of the caste system. It is believed that when the caste system originally started, people were able to move from one caste to another…it was based on occupation. Today occupations are not the exclusive domain of any caste, but age-old prejudices remain. Age old rituals are practiced, not in their true spirit, but out of long habit.

I hope that more and more parents conduct these rituals on their daughters, if they believe in them. If they do it for their sons there is no reason to exclude their daughters. If they look hard enough they will find a priest who will agree to it. If there is a demand for it, then the priests, even male priests, will come forward.  Hinduism has this flexibility.

Related Reading: The women priests of India
Too much importance given to rituals and less to faith
The original meaning behind fasting for husbands in Hinduism

Are converts accepted in Hinduism?
Gurus – should we love them or leave them?
The Ram Setu controversy
A book countering the “Hinduphobia” of the west

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181 Comments leave one →
  1. Meghna permalink
    June 15, 2009 6:55 pm

    Banal ritualials are the bane of all religions. the thread ceremony, however, is not one of them. it has a deep significance even in todays world.

    keeping out a certain section of society ( be it women, dalits etc) has been a tradition of hindu society for hundreds of years. even though many have tried to reform it, the caste system ( which includes discrimination against women) is very predominant, even today.

    the true essense of Hindusim died, unfortunately, when the scriptures of Manu started dominating mainstream Hinduism. I am heartened to hear of girls under going the thread ceremony, and hope it catches on, although i am cynical about it ever happening.

    Meghna, I am glad you mentioned Manu. I almost wrote about him when I was writing this post and then said, Nah!! I couldn’t stand to write about that person in my post! Yes, the true essence of Hinduism is dead today but there are some people who do follow the true essence of Hinduism. I think this gentleman who did this thread ceremony on his daughter is one of those. He has followed Hinduism the way it is meant to be. I hope more people take this path instead of performing banal and noisy rituals for the sake of pomp and show. – Nita.

  2. June 15, 2009 7:01 pm

    So now we have to turn to outdated religious rituals to bring about social reform? In my opinion, true reform will be when society gets rid of such rituals.

    Religion has been an instrument of gender inequality all over the world. Few such exceptional incidents will not impact the all-pervasive negative impact of religion on gender equality. If emancipated women derive hope based on some such isolated incidents, in my opinion, it is a false hope.

    Mahendra, I may agree with you about the rituals but that is not the point. The point is that there are people who believe in them and it gives them fulfillment and satisfaction and I respect that. In fact all rituals have deep meaning. I may not follow them but I respect rituals if they are done in their true spirit and I respect those who do them. – Nita.

    • June 15, 2009 7:13 pm

      What’s wrong with such rituals? Its no different from a graduation ceremony. As long as trashy religious sermons are kept out of this, such rituals are simply social occasions to get together. No? :)

    • June 15, 2009 10:43 pm

      Mahendra, who decides whether a certain ritual is outdated or not, or significant or not? Does it not depend on the individual and the practitioners – if they choose to give it a meaning? And is the ceremony of throwing graduation caps in the air or wearing a specific gown of a certain color – over which the wearer has no control and has no choice (try going to your graduation in jeans and t-shirt or shorts minus your gown) – any less silly/more meaningful/more rational than a thread ceremony?

      I sometimes think that “liberal” becomes “anti-religious”, which is but another form of (somewhat accepted) prejudice.

      • June 15, 2009 11:01 pm

        I would like to stick to the context of the post, where I was critically examining rituals like these that have been used by religion to maintain a male-dominated culture.

        If a widow chooses to immolate herself by following the practice of sati, should we sanction the act because she chooses to give it meaning or should we say it is outdated?

        • June 15, 2009 11:10 pm

          Mahendra, since you want to stick to the context of the post, I’ll ignore your second paragraph which lists an apple when we are discussing oranges. :)

    • June 15, 2009 10:52 pm

      Yes, I think I missed your point. I was referring to: “More important, this could turn into an instrument of social reform if prominent male priests of the country give their stamp of approval.”

      My comment was that such isolated exceptions in rituals can’t be instruments of reform.

      Respecting rituals and those who do them in the true spirit is fine with me. I respect people, their freedom to find fulfillment and satisfaction in such rituals, and my freedom in not following such rituals.

  3. June 15, 2009 7:11 pm

    The biggest difference between Eastern ‘Dharmic’ religions and Western ‘Abrahamic’ religions is that the Dharmic religions change and adapt with times, while the Abrahamic religions are stuck in a 2000 yr. old era.

    While I am mostly agnostic or even atheist (which strangely is allowed in dharmic religions but a sin in abrahamic ones), I do not think that Eastern religions and social progress are mutually exclusive.

    [Note for the unaware: Abrahamic religions include religions of the book: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Dharmic religions include Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and variants.]

    Priyank, as you mentioned, being agnostic is allowed in Hinduism. Very few people know this and they think that one must follow rituals to prove one’s belief! – Nita

    • Vinod permalink
      June 15, 2009 7:50 pm

      The biggest difference between Eastern ‘Dharmic’ religions and Western ‘Abrahamic’ religions is that the Dharmic religions change and adapt with times, while the Abrahamic religions are stuck in a 2000 yr. old erai>

      If I may put this a little more precisely, the biggest difference between the Abrahamic and the Dharmic religions is that the former are more stringently defined by hermeneutics while the latter are not, some not even having any clear set of foundational scriptures.

  4. June 15, 2009 7:24 pm

    An interesting development, Nita! Glad to hear Hinduism can be so flexible.

  5. Vinod permalink
    June 15, 2009 7:42 pm

    I wonder whether the dalits would think of this as a development in Hinduism of any significance? I’m not trying to say that caste is a bigger problem than gender. But what I’m saying is that Brahmin rituals may seem very alien to Dalits, who may not relate to this in anyway whatsoever. It would perhaps be as alien as muslims allowing women to pray in mosques. I could be wrong here and a dalit perspective would help.

    Vinod, your are right I think. This type of rituals might seem alien to Dalits and quite meaningless. Unless they have some other substitute for it, but I am not aware of it. – Nita

  6. June 15, 2009 8:40 pm

    Nita, the idea behind the post being right, I can’t help but point some factual errors:
    Thread ceremony is not just a Brahmin ritual but is meant for three upper varnas of Vedic religion,i.e. Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya. It is through its performance that the child becomes ‘twice born’. Hence the concept of ‘twice born’ also originates from it, a term from which only Shudras and Dalits are excluded.
    Moreover according to you, “The days when non-Brahmins were not allowed study are long gone. Neither do all Brahmins become priests, as they did as at the beginning of the caste system.”
    However, in actual practice, there was no time in the history when non-brahmins were not allowed education. Lets take the example of Krishna, a present day-OBC, who attended Gurukul along with his Brahmin friend, Sudama.
    Secondly, a statement, that ‘all the priests were(and still are) Brahmins’ is right but to claim that ‘all the Brahmins became priests at the beginning of caste system’ is also not correct.
    It is not homogenous throughout the country but has regional and temporal differences.

    Vipul, thanks for the corrections and have made them in my main post. I read that about other castes being included in the wiki and even linked to it, but then forgot to make the correction in my draft. However about Krishna, don’t you think that quoting him is not a good example because it was not very common? However I may be wrong and it may have been the prevalent practice. I do not know. And ofcourse you are right about the regional differences. – Nita.

    • June 16, 2009 12:35 am

      Well I gave Krishna’s example just because we all have heard Krishna-Sudama tale. Anyways, I’ll elaborate a bit on the education aspect. Education at that time was more functional in nature. So, while Brahman students concentrated more on scriptures, Kshatriyas had to concentrate on warfare from early childhood.
      However, if we go by scriptures(Manu Smriti and later classical texts), then we have heard of the four ashrams of a Hindu’s life. The first ashram, i.e. Brahmacharya is meant for ‘learning the foundation of lifestyle. The focus is on healthy, positive training and discipline, learning about spiritual, community, and family life.’ This 4-ashram system applied to all varnas(Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra). So education was for all(except Dalits) though its nature might have been different.
      Having said this, I’ll have to admit that this is the general perception based on Indological studies but what was the reality, no one can be sure of.

  7. June 15, 2009 9:13 pm

    I sort of agree with mahendra. The trouble with these rituals is that, soon the intent behind them is lost and they simply become empty actions with no thought behind that (except of course the thought that allow a certain section of people to still establish their (misguided) sense of superiority over others). I may be painting a broad stroke here, but I think many if not most rituals of Hinduism fall into this. I think some of the excellent aspects of Hinduism (that is common with Buddhism) has been eclipsed by over-use of rituals.

    So while I do agree that opening up something to all instead of one-caste is indeed better from one perspective – I am not sure if it is necessarily a step in the right direction.

    Arun

    As you said, rituals often become empty actions and well if they are restricted to one or two castes they have not meaning at all! – Nita

  8. June 15, 2009 9:43 pm

    Well I had my thread ceremony when I was 6 and a half years old :) And till date I only know the gayathri mantra and none of the other mantras . Of course they all have a meaning and I will learn once I learn Sanskrit(which I intend to do soon ) . But no one in my house has ever forced me , so when I do learn them , I am doing it out of my own wish and because I am curious . I believe this choice is the most essential to understanding our religion and the reasons associated with various things.

    Vishesh, if you have a sister, has she done it too? :) – Nita

  9. June 16, 2009 1:38 am

    I think religion is like a piece of cake. You can have it if you feel like but you won’t die without it. :)

    • June 16, 2009 4:16 am

      Nice one :)

    • June 16, 2009 9:03 am

      And having too much makes you FAT. :)

    • Vinod permalink
      June 16, 2009 9:07 am

      And your cake is no better than the other person’s cake. :)

    • June 18, 2009 12:08 am

      That comment takes the cake!

    • June 18, 2009 12:51 am

      And If you are not having your cake and someone else is having his, then he will always make you feel bad about it! :)

    • Vinod permalink
      June 18, 2009 8:25 am

      Who would think that a cake eating meptaphor can be so pregnant with wisdom? All cakes have the basic egg and flour in it as the basic substrate. It is only the flavour that varies. Can’t the multiplicity of flavours be appreciated for its variety while still having one’s own favourite flavour?
      We’re getting good, aren’t we? :)

  10. June 16, 2009 10:07 am

    Hinduism in itself is not a religion but its the way of life and in the Gupta’s dynasty it was taken up as a combination and then was forwarded as a rligion. We have forgotten what true hinduism is and as Meghna mentions earlier, “the true essense of Hindusim died, unfortunately, when the scriptures of Manu started dominating mainstream Hinduism”

    Am glad that females are accepted as a part of the society ;)

    sakhi, I think very few people really try and understand Hinduism. I personally believe that very few people are actually spiritual. – Nita

  11. Vinod permalink
    June 16, 2009 10:58 am

    Is there anybody here who thinks positively of rituals? I actually think ritualism has its benefits as long as it doesn’t get a life of its own. Every religious teaching cautions against this. Rituals can be used as a barometer on one’s own spirituality, although not in a very precise way. An analogy to elicidate this is that of monitoring one’s distance run or weights lifted to ensure that one is not slipping in the exercise regime. Lethargy can slip in imperceptibly. Regimentation through rituals helps preserve the ‘kernel of truth/values’ and in the fulfillment of some essential needs of socialization, identity building, social structuring and joint affirmation of values and structuring time for the individual. Not just that, I believe a religion derives its unique identity through its rituals. Shaving rituals off like the way Lutheran christianity has can lead to a very wishy-washy notion of religion that fails to give any real sense of identity to is adherents.

    Vinod, rituals can give a feeing of peace and tranquility to those who perform them, and as you have mentioned the majority of us perform some ritual or the other, not all religious. We survive only because of rituals. Spiritual rituals can bring peace of mind and helps in meditation. – Nita

  12. June 16, 2009 11:49 am

    I think each ritual has its own importance. And not all religions believed hence some adopted it and other did not.
    With equality of gender gaining maturity sooner time will come, when caste structure will dissolve itself.

  13. June 16, 2009 2:19 pm

    I personally do not believe in these rituals.One does not have to go through all this to prove a point in favour of girls and their empowerment.Just treat them with respect and give them same or more education as given to boys.

    B.K, but what if you do the rituals for boys and not for girls? Why should it be so? Just educate both sexes then, why do the ritual for the boys?- Nita

  14. June 16, 2009 2:25 pm

    why does the society stop from getting one step ahead and opposing the Manu’s texts? His scriptures are not authentic scriptures and are in direct opposition to what Geeta and other scriptures say. What Manu says on women is horrible and can be seen replicating at places on the internet. His books had only personal opinions of his own and they his opinions ought to be discarded.

    If people believed more in logic, rational thinking, philosophy and the words of Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, we would have achieved what is there today 500 years back.

    We have big temples but more beggars outside. Why not work on educating the poor rather than to worship the glory of unknown? Creator would also like to see his children living nicely among themselves rather than people glorifying Creator, because Creator if exists, is certainly not a ego – hungry narcissist.

    Whatever Strikes, I think many people do the ritual thing for show and as a commentator said, to show one upmanship over the neighbor. As you said, we need to love our neighbors and that is true religion! – Nita

    • June 16, 2009 3:04 pm

      i totally agree. the money spent on all the rituals around the world to please the “Unknown” could be used well to feed the “known – dying of hunger”.

      • June 16, 2009 10:45 pm

        oorja, I couldn’t agree more with you.
        Let’s start focusing on the alcohol imbibed in pubs and clubs – all that money is so obviously better spent helping the poor, and besides, drinking all that alcohol is not good for one’s health.
        Ditto for all the handbags and shoes that women buy – who can justify buying 10 different handbags and pairs of matching shoes, when one or two are enough and the money spent on the rest could easily go towards feeding the known who are dying of hunger? ;)

  15. Dr Nishith N Dhruv permalink
    June 16, 2009 3:03 pm

    //Lets take the example of Krishna, a present day-OBC//
    Since Krishna was born in the Yadav dynasty which originated from Yadu who was a Kshatriya – the quoted statement is incorrect.
    Manu’s dictates are part of the Smriti literature which has been created by humans. But we have to be guided by Shruti literature which has been directly heard by the pue in the heart from God himself. Whenever a dictate from Shruti comes in conflict with one from the Smriti, it is the Shruti that must prevail. Hence it is absolutely appropriate to alter the dictates of the Smritis. We can do that without being unduly harsh on the originator of that Smriti – Manu had indeed done monumental work in several spheres of life of his times.
    The thread that is to be worn ever after the ceremony is a symbolic reminder that the person has seated the Gods and Vedas on his body and has to conduct his life in a manner worthy of this fact. It is something like the badges worn by the army-men to remind them of what they are and what are their commitments.

    Thanks Dr. Dhruv. You do have an in-depth knowledge of this subject. I agree that Manu has contributed other things too, but frankly I think Hinduism could have done without him. – Nita.

    • Vinod permalink
      June 16, 2009 3:43 pm

      Am I the only one that sees a parallel between the role that Shruti and Smrithi play in informing about what Hinduism is and the role that the Quran and Hadith play in informing what Islam is? Or am I just being hasty?

      • rags permalink
        June 17, 2009 10:12 am

        I don’t think there is a parallel. Quran and Hadith are primary to Islam and the very basis of Islam. But a Hindu can spend an entire life without ever hearing about Shruthi or Smriti or Manu.(I know may people like that). I’m sure there aren’t any Muslims who haven’t heard of the Quran. I don’t think Shruti or Smriti can capture the essence of Hinduism.

      • Vinod permalink
        June 17, 2009 10:38 am

        Rags thanks. I was coming from a purely exegetical point of view, regardless of whether the adherents advert to it or not. In other words, what is the religious significance of Shruti and Smriti within Hinduism? Do they provide any doctrines of Hinduism? Is one of them of greater significance than the other? How do the texts of each relate to each other?

        As an analogy, if I answer those questions for Islam, the Quran is the revelation of Allah while the Hadith are the historical records of the sayings of the Prophet, his companions, and some events during that period. While the quranic verses are unchallengably true the hadith have degrees of truth to them. The Hadith are more like evidence with various strengths assigned to each. The Quran always trumps over the hadith in the event of a clash of messages between the two. The hadith may clarify, specify and expand upon a particular Quranic verse.
        Could you shed some light about the Shruti and Smriti in Hinduism along the above lines?

        Hope that clarifies.

        • rags permalink
          June 17, 2009 1:02 pm

          I don’t have enough knowledge to explain it the way you did. I hope someone who has read the scriptures can enlighten us..

          • vasudev permalink
            June 17, 2009 8:59 pm

            shruti or smriti i do not know. in any case, i think they were for the brahmins and not for the ordinary mortals? one is remembered another is sung or said. abrahamic faiths had their’s for everyone (unless the pope is keeping something up his sleeve).

            what i remember having heard is that the sanatana texts are the vedas and their scholarly interpretations are the upanishads…something akin (perhaps) to hadiths.

        • vasudev permalink
          June 17, 2009 9:09 pm

          [While the quranic verses are unchallengably true the hadith have degrees of truth to them]

          unchallengeably true for whom?

          • rags permalink
            June 17, 2009 10:11 pm

            For their followers :-) For the rest of us Quran is the imagination of Prophet Mohammad.

          • Vinod permalink
            June 17, 2009 10:13 pm

            For their followers ofcourse.

  16. June 16, 2009 3:43 pm

    yeah,well I guess hinduism is the most flexible religion of the World, it provides us with a lot of multiple choices, from different GODs to pray to various festivals, rituals!!

  17. Dr Nishith N Dhruv permalink
    June 16, 2009 4:25 pm

    There was nothing like Hinduism as such. The people of ancient India called their religion Sanaatan Dharma or the eternal religion. And the various and often mutually antagonistic philosophies existed and developed in an entirely free milieu. There was no organised religion and not even the word Hindu. The races staying on the other side of the river Sindhu used the pharyngeal h in place of the dental sibilant s and that is how sindhu became hindu and the people of this land became hindus and the conglomerate of religions of the land came to be known as Hinduism. The intricacies of this fact were best explained by Swami Vivekanand. It is because of the essentially freedom-loving nature of the religious systems of India that we have survived from the ancient to the modern age.

    • Vinod permalink
      June 16, 2009 5:17 pm

      It is because of the essentially freedom-loving nature of the religious systems of India that we have survived from the ancient to the modern age.

      While this paints a pretty picture of what we call Hinduism today, I would speculate that the more realistic version of history is that no one political power was powerful enough inthe lands that we call India today that could enforce one type of all the religious thought on everybody. The multiple centers of power were more or less equally matched and they were either at peaceful co-existence or in conflict depending on arbitrary human factors. It was purely serendipitous. I do not think that adherents of one ‘religious system’ thought about the other and “respected” their freedom to believe. It was something more mundane and ordinary in that a fortuitous unfolding of political history prevented the dominance of one single group over all others for a sufficiently long period of time.

      The tendency to paint our own history in glorious terms is quite irresistible, isn’t it?

      • rags permalink
        June 17, 2009 10:25 am

        Nice of you to ignore that entire paragraph about Hinduism (which is quite modest and self effacing in my opinion) and focus on that one particular line. I wonder…. were you made to clear an esp. difficult paper on Hinduism and India during college to justify your antagonism towards both.. ;-)

      • Vinod permalink
        June 17, 2009 10:40 am

        Rags, I did not ignore the rest of the post. There was nothing there to disagree. It is quite accurate. The ending was a bit off-track and I had to pick on it. It is not possible to preface every post one makes with disclaimers, no?

      • Vinod permalink
        June 17, 2009 11:12 am

        One more thing Rags, there was nothing deprecating of Hinduism in what I wrote. Yes, it did not help put Hinduism in a ‘sexy’ historical light. But neither did I say anything foul about it and Indians.

  18. June 16, 2009 7:29 pm

    Hi Nita .. as far as i know thread ceremony is not limited to Brahmins only .. others like Kshatriya also perform this ..


    yes SP I know. I knew it when I was writing the article as well and if you read my reply to Vipul’s comment you will understant it. Thanks. – Nita.

  19. June 16, 2009 8:32 pm

    We are not Brahmins, but still we wear the sacred thread (but during the time of marriage). In fact, certain practices like being a vegetarian, etc. were adopted only during the beginning of the 20th century uniformly by everyone (This surprises me!) of our caste. So, I think the caste system was supposed to evolve beyond its boundaries, and it did as in the case of our caste.

    But as we have seen, even the best systems are abused by the worst people (all over the world), it should come as no surprise that rituals have been abused by people. The people who think they are too clever, especially. The rituals do have a meaning, and if performed properly, I believe were intended to give a better meaning to life for the concerned individuals. At least a better illusion of a meaning than what we have today.

    It is of great interest to note that we have discarded certain things that were unique (either directly or indirectly) and we want to take over the mantle of technology and become experts in it without having any credentials or a base and not even working hard towards such a path. Go and speak to any student in an Engineering college and you would be wondering at the quality of education and his understanding of the technical concepts. There are people who memorize equations and pass the exams!

    We are blindly following science today like how we blindly followed rituals earlier. Nothing more.

    Destination Infinity

    • June 16, 2009 10:56 pm

      DI, you have given a modern twist to the subject, and made me think in a different way! You are so right. We are blindly following textbooks without applying the knowledge, without understanding what it means. Our education system is itself a ritual. The exams are a ritual!

  20. June 16, 2009 9:13 pm

    Hi Nita,

    I am very sorry to inform you about some misconceptions and short commings in this article.

    “but the Bar Mitzah is for both boys and girls while the thread ceremony has been thought to be the exclusive domain of Brahmin males.”

    First of all You can’t compare Jewish bar Mitzah & Hindus Thread ceremony.There are different ways of celebrating for Boys and Girls among all religions and in Hindus among all castes for “Comming of Age”.

    Thread Ceremony is not limited to Brahmin Males But It is for series of other castes which are having a role to play in the Kingdom for various deeds Like Kshatriyas,Baniyas,Nayi Brahmins (Barber),Viswa Brahmins (Goldsmiths) etc…

    First of all one need to understand what is a thread ceremony and why it is needed.I feel Nita had to do homework on this.

    Regarding the Thread ceremony for the Girls .. There is a function celebrated among all
    castes in Hindus when the girl gets matured.During this time a Big function is organized (bigger than thread ceremony).

    I feel the subject and content of the article is not worth.There is nothing superior undergoing thread ceremony. and it is not limited for Brahmins.All castes across India are having functions for the “Comming of Age” to both Boys and girls. I don’t know what you want to reform in this .. ? What is your problem ?.. we had Spent more money infact for my sisters to do a ceremony for their “Comming of Age” Function. Now should we again do thread Thread Ceremony .. to them..?

    Do you really know How many castes in Hindus wear a thread..? And How it is being organized and what a Guy has to do after the ceremony..?
    Very Poor Article…Not expected from you Nita.

    • June 17, 2009 9:03 pm

      P.S :- Readers, Beg your Pardon to use the word “Baniya” .. I couldn’t get the right usage word in my tongue during writing.Actual word should be “Vyshayas”.

  21. June 16, 2009 10:10 pm

    Dear Nita,

    Your Quote:
    “The days when non-Brahmins were not allowed study are long gone. ”

    Non-Brahmins are not allowed to study …? This really shows your poor knowledge about ancient India… Kshatriyas,Baniyas,Soldiers..etc from Sudras use to attend Gurukuls for various studies which are useful for them to perform their daily works.

    Your quote
    “Neither do all Brahmins become priests, as they did as at the beginning of the caste system. ”
    Not all Brahmins become priests Nita.. there are various sects in brahmins… to become a Poet,to become a Minister in the kingdom, Mathematicians,Economics,Kingdom welfare .. Village heads…etc.. Not all brahmins can become priests in the ancient India or in the present India.. Not all Brahmins are eligible to become priests…

    You really need to do your Home work well for presenting article on this subject.

    • June 16, 2009 10:27 pm

      Kumar, I am sorry that my ignorance has offended you. But I assure you that neither am I an expert on this subject or any other one on this blog. My ignorance can be seen on all subjects, whether it is on politics or religion. This blog is basically to give my opinions and I try to research but I do not have the time to research any subject very thoroughly. I am open to be corrected however, from polite readers. I cannot take your advise to do my homework because I have already spent a some time researching this topic, which is indeed vast. Not to mention the time to think about what I feel about it and then write it in coherent english. For every “article” I write some person will not like it. But I do what I can and you can take it or leave it. I suggest that you leave it. Thanks.
      p.s I don’t have a poor knowledge of ancient India. I have almost zero.

      • June 16, 2009 10:45 pm

        Dear Nita,

        Hey Common..Its okay.I am not offended with your writings but just correcting some with my limited knowledge.There is no space for a single person view rather people go by facts.

        It not liking your article or not.I enjoy reading most of your articles .. In this article there are factual errors so i mentioned and clarified.Its your blog you can write anything and have your opinions but i am just trying to differentiate your opinions and historical facts. Both cant be mixed…:)

        • June 16, 2009 11:07 pm

          Kumar, its fine if you correct me but do think what you have written. Firstly, I have every right to compare the Bar Mitzah and the Hindu Thread ceremony simply because I choose to. Secondly, I understand why the thread ceremony is needed. I have written that. If you feel it is for something else, kindly say so. Thirdly, I have no idea what function you are talking about when you talk about a function, a “bigger” one for girls. You have not named it. If you have the “facts” kindly present them and enlighten me and other readers. Also my articles, from movie reviews to articles on politics or education all may contain errors. Often they do. Frankly I don’t get all uptight about it because I know I am doing what I can. If it isnt good enough for readers, they are welcome not to read.

          • June 17, 2009 12:27 am

            Dear Nita,

            For Comparison of Bar Mitzah and the Hindu Thread ceremony I dont have a problem.Both the ceremonies
            represent for “Comming of the Age”.
            But the problem in your comparison is you are saying Bar Mitzah is for Both boys and Girls and for thread
            ceremony there is a Gender discrimination…as Thread Ceremony is only for Boys in Hinduism.. Thats why i
            differed.Well in Hinduism for Girls we have a different function performed for girls in place of thread ceremony.That is the reason i said so. Even in orthodox jews there is no place for Bar Mitzah for girls..only in

            the modern age jews it is conducted for girls as there is no other function to celebrate for girls for “Comming

            off the age”. You can check it here
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar_mitzvahs#Jewish_girls

            Function for Hindu girls.
            “Comming of Age” Ceremony for Hindu girls all the castes celebrate and perform a ceremony when the girl

            attains puberty.This is not limited to Brahmins or any one caste.All the castes & tribes across Hindu religion
            celebrate this ceremony for Girls.For this ceremony Lot of money is spent and its a grand affair across all castes.The ceremony ranges from 5 to 12 days even more upto a month also depends upon region & castes.
            You can check these links.We had celebrated for my sisters also.
            http://books.google.co.in/books?id=7lOc8ZoLV0wC&pg=PA9&lpg=PA9&dq=puberty+function+in+hindus&sou

            rce=bl&ots=miO-QRkzhV&sig=M9WXIQWXU-Pf-olG3iGxNzxxvqU&hl=en&ei=gOE3St_-Lc-HkAWyyo2gDQ&s

            a=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2#PPP1,M1
            http://images.google.co.in/images?hl=en&q=puberty%20ceremony%20in%20hindus&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N

            &tab=wi
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nair_ceremonies_and_customs#Thirandukalyanam_.28announcement_and_celebr

            ation_of_puberty.29

            “Comming of Age” Ceremony is for both Boys and Girls for all castes across Hindus.
            The girls will be having a puberty ceremony and the name differs with language and region like in telugu
            “pedda manishi” in malayalam Thirandukalyanam…etc.. and Boys will be having a thread ceremony for
            Brahmins,Kshatriyas,Vyshayas & for some castes in Shudras who has links to perform a birth,death &
            funeral like a Nayi Brahmin, Dhobi, Goldsmith and there are some more castes in shudras who has to
            undergo thread ceremony.In Some shudras they give the clothes of a adult to a boy like a lungi or Dhoti.. And the name of the ceremony varies as per caste and region.

            “Secondly, I understand why the thread ceremony is needed. I have written that.”
            This is what you had written “As far as my understanding goes, it was the time when boys left home for their studies, to the gurukul.”

            Dear Nita, No your understanding is just symbolical and not correct…. Thread ceremony or comming of Age for boys ceremony is not just for boys or before going to gurukul.It is the ceremony celebrated and performed to convey to a boy that
            1) His chilhood is over now.
            2) His actions should be responsible.
            3) To maintain a Brahmacharya (celibacy)
            4) To concentrate his actions for a responsible goal.
            The list goes on… ….:) Even for girls the puberty ceremony Do’s and Dont’s will be there.The objective of these ceremonies are these points for both girl and a boy.
            You can check more about thread ceremony in the wiki
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upanayanam

            So, we cant say that a curry in a Brahmin house is superior than a curry in a Shudra or a tribal person.A ceremony is their in all castes only thing is the way of celebrations will differ from place to place and as per the tastes of the people..Only thing is we need to just enjoy it.Since it is a vast religion with different people and languages ehtinicity .. difficult to understand Hinduism .. only thing we can do is enjoy the religion.

            Kumar, thanks for giving these links but I realised after reading your comment that you have not got what I was saying in my post at all. The message of the post you have missed in toto. This post was never about giving the details of how the thread ceremony is celebrated. And yes my understanding of the thread ceremony may be symbolical but it is correct. It may not be comprehensive, but it is absolutely correct.
            Also I have every right to compare the Jewish ceremony and the Hindu one. As I said, I can compare the thread ceremony to anything I think is relevant. It is my personal way of looking at it. In a post I have even compared terrorists to pirates! Again, that is my own thinking. – Nita.

            • June 17, 2009 7:24 am

              Nita,
              I had clearly written you can compare the Jewish ceremony and the Hindu one.But you can’t say there is a Gender discrimination.
              I had given you how hindus celebrate “Comming to Age” function for Girls.
              In your own thinking you can compare anything and its your blog you can do that…But you can’t Say anything which is not true.
              Like one that only Brahmins do thread marriage or Hindu Girls dont have Rituals for “Comming to Age”.

              You yourself had written about thread ceremony & why it is celebrated.Now you are saying the article is not regarding thread ceremony..? then delete or modify the sentence that you are saying “Brahmins do thread ceremony before going to Gurukuls”

              You should never say one caste or its rituals are better than others.. Your rights,views and personal opinion in public shouldn’t harm any caste, creed, race, Gender..

              Infact there are a yearly ceremonies for Hindu Girls to celebrate the end of the childhood like attlataddi in Andhra Pradesh.I dont know the name in other languages.

              I will be glad If you can come up how Hindu Girls are denied a ceremony for “Comming of Age”.

              Well the Points are clear.
              1) Lot of castes do thread ceremony to Boys in Hindus as “Comming of Age” ceremony .
              2) Hindu Girls have a seperate ceremony for “Comming of Age”
              3) “Comming of Age” ceremony is celebrated among all castes across hindus.
              4) One caste ceremony is not superior to other caste.Every caste is having its own pride and prestige in celebrating its rituals.


              Kumar, as I said you have not understood the contents of my post. I said the thread ceremony is only for boys and there is no doubt in my mind about it. There is enough proof provided in my post that it is for boys. YES THERE IS GENDER DISCRIMINATION. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO MAKE YOU UNDERSTAND THAT!! And as for girls coming of age ceremony I have not seen it practiced anywhere and please do give a link of examples of it being practiced. It may be a prevalent practice Andhra in some states, BUT in any case it is not the thread ceremony or mundan or munj. This post is about the signficance of the thread ceremony which is male oriented! As for you saying that I have said that one caste is superior to others, that is sheer nonsense. If you continue misrepresenting my post, as each and every comment of yours has done, I will stop publishing your comments. You are wasting my time. – Nita

              • June 17, 2009 8:35 am

                Nita, You are mixing a Boy cereony with a girls one.Yes, thread ceremony is only for Boys you are right and i accept it.But for girls there is a “comming of age” function performed across all castes in Hindus.You can check the following links.I am providing you these links for second time in my responses.

                http://books.google.co.in/books?id=7lOc8ZoLV0wC&pg=PA9&lpg=PA9&dq=puberty+function+in+hindus&source=bl&ots=miO-QRkzhV&sig=M9WXIQWXU-Pf-olG3iGxNzxxvqU&hl=en&ei=gOE3St_-Lc-HkAWyyo2gDQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2#PPP1,M1

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nair_ceremonies_and_customs#Thirandukalyanam_.28announcement_and_celebration_of_puberty.29

                In the above link i had provided for nair girls in Kerala..Puberty function for hindu girls is prevalent right from the existence of a Hindu Girl …:)There is no Gender Discrimination.We can’t mix the functions of a Boy and a Girl.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devadasi

                You can check in this link how for a hindu girl in devdasi caste “comming to age” function is important.

                Hope now you understand Hindu Girls are having there own way of celebrating the ” Comming of Age ” ceremony.I can understand you being in Metro city, its difficult to practice all these ceremonies.But Most of the Hindus even we in my family being in abroad also we celebrate these ceremonies.

                Your quote:
                “YES THERE IS GENDER DISCRIMINATION. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO MAKE YOU UNDERSTAND THAT!!”
                Then you have to prove that how discrimination is being done…? Do you want to perform a thread ceremony for a girl and the girls puberty ceremony for a Guy…? Do you think by this will be gender equality.

                Kumar, Girls also need to do the thread ceremony, not just a ceremony for puberty!! That is what my post clearly said. I believe that girls should do the exact thread ceremony that boys do. That is what my post is about! Gender equality. But at last I understand your lack of understanding of my post. It is your view of women, which is also clear on your comment on the post I wrote before this one. No more shall be said now. You have given your point of view and I have given mine. In fact I am glad you came on this post as I need all opinions to be represented. You do not think the thread ceremony is necessary for girls because they have one for puberty. As I said no more on this topic. And yes I think the boys can also have one for puberty, if there is such a ceremony for girls being practiced. I am certainly not talking of devsasis! :) This exchange is now becoming funny. No more. Please. – Nita.

                • June 17, 2009 9:05 am

                  I had given an example of devadasis a caste in Hindus.. Similarly all castes do a puberty ceremony.Its not funny .. no caste is funny in Hindusism.

                • vasudev permalink
                  June 17, 2009 8:46 pm

                  kumar…
                  the puberty function for nair girls was a ‘urrrrrghhhhh’ for me even when i was 10 and my newly puberted sis was 12. i am glad such idiotic rituals are no more valid. in any case, the public have better entertainments nowadays on the tv.

                  • June 17, 2009 8:59 pm

                    Vasu,
                    Actually, with time constraint to search for the puberty ceremony i got the nair girls ceremony in wiki so i presented as an example.But this is celebrated across all castes in hindus.Even we had performed for my sisters just as big as marriage.
                    Well, some can consider its idotic but some may find it useful, Its personal matter.
                    But i myself and my friends and family members believe its good to perform as it is good for puberty girls. Yes, its big entertainment with family & extended family members reunions and celbrations.. Cheers :)

              • June 17, 2009 8:58 am

                Nita, Common you are changing your replies from time to time.
                A girls “comming of Age” ceremony is not a thread ceremony or mundan or munj…? See, for a girls ceremony
                there will be a thread on her hand just like a freindship band and for a Guy it is on his chest.Since for a girl we

                can’t have a thread on her chest .. it was made to tie on the hand.They do it regularly in the puja also.Are you really ignorant of these practices and ceremonies..? Just because of variance in thread wearing .. you cant say it is different.You shouldn’t mix the boy and a girl ceremonies.You should respect girls ceremonies and her importance in the religion.You can’t say a girls ceremonies are not superior to boys ceremonies just because boys are having thread ceremony..Thread ceremony wont make a gender superior.. You cant say a girls ceremony is inferior to boys ceremony.

                If you say that boys thread ceremony is not equal to Puberty ceremony of girls .. Than what is the “comming of Age” ceremony for Boys..? Thats why i insisted you to know about the thread marriage..You can read about sandya vandanam also ..this will help you understand the essence of thread marriage for boys.Girls across india celebrate Puberty ceremony.I dont know why you are ignorant about this.

  22. Meghna permalink
    June 17, 2009 12:08 am

    Nita, I want to add that this is an excellent article and a thought provoking one. You are one of my favourite bloggers because you apply your mind to the various topics you cover. I don’t care about errors, it’s what you are trying to say which matters.Y ou actually think! And your stuff is usually thought provoking and original. You also give links, which any one of us can explore if we want to go deeper into the subject. I have no idea how you manage to do it, year after year, month after month, week after week, because you have a life too! This is all unpaid work and i want you to know how much I appreciate what you are doing. And i know that are other readers who feel the same way I do.
    Thanks for being around.

  23. June 17, 2009 3:23 am

    I have found Science in Hinduism whenever I try to look up for something about the religion. I believe that Hinduism is built on a strong foundation of Science which simply got destroyed/discarded/adulterated/modified over the years.

    Example, In those days they used Palm leaves for writing. So in order to preserve the Palm leaves from being consumed by the termites, they smeared it with Turmeric paste, a natural disinfectant. But people now continue to apply turmeric to any paper that has something holy written on it. If you are using any modern A4 sheet of paper that can last for atleast 10 to 20 years, or better yet if you are just digitally storing it in a PDF file, there is no need for turmeric there. As simple as that. I read this from a blog of a spiritual person, who sometimes explains the customs and points out superstitions and people’s ignorances.

    I just think that Hinduism needs to be revived as a way of living and not as another religion that needs to be blindly followed!

  24. vasudev permalink
    June 17, 2009 7:58 am

    I wish there would come a time when you could post a topic: “The coming of age of Islamism & Christism”.

    Enough said about Hinduism and how not to become a Hindu or how to say how dirty we are.

    Vasudev, This is a positive post, or that is what I think. As for Christianity or Islam I cannot write such a post. I do not think I know enough of these religions. I know so little about Hinduism! In any case I write what I feel strongly about, and I feel strongly about Hinduism. – Nita

    • vasudev permalink
      June 17, 2009 8:51 pm

      nita…what i meant was, enough of digging out our putrefied teeth…. (something more decent would be ‘washing our dirty linen…). do not think others aren’t backward (if any they are even more orthodox and pegged right at the ‘adi-manush’ stage but cleverly acting as if nothing is amiss.

      Am not sure what you mean Vasudev. I was praising Hinduism with this post, but I guess everyone has a different take on it. Hinduism is this flexible, I said that. I do not like to say other religions aren’t because I do not like to do oneupmanship. I think Axinia got it. Read the post again. I am praising Hinduism, one by saying that the way it originally is it does not discriminate against women, and secondly that even if it makes mistakes individuals can rectify them without the clergy protesting too much. – Nita.

  25. June 17, 2009 9:59 am

    Nita

    i dont think we Hindus ever had a tradition of “education for brahmins only”…..But what i do believe is being “Guru” (Teaher), running Gurukul etc was exclusive prerogative of Brahmins..

    we should not confuse between the two

    Second thing, i dont think for gender equality, Girls should do exactly the same thing what boys do and vice versa :)

    For example i dont think exactly same religious ceremony to be performed on both boys and girls if it’s not the tradition…i dont understand where gender discrimination comes into picture here…….

    There are some traditions and practices which are meant socially/traditionally exclusively either for males or females…and i dont see any discrimination in that

    for example i dont think girls should necessarily start body building and developing muscles only because boys do it..It’s the tradition that boys are admied for muscular body but not girls…

    Vivek, Lets not bring an unrelated subject like body building into this issue. I believe that girls should also do the thread ceremony and I have given the reasons very clearly on this post. Let me repeat I think the thread ceremony should be performed on girls and it is not against Hinduism. I repeated it because I think you may not have read my post. This post is not about ALL religious ceremonies. It is about the thread ceremony. – Nita.

    • June 17, 2009 2:47 pm

      Nita,
      When arguing with me you had said this post is not about thread ceremony.Now you are saying with vivek This post is about thread ceremony. See, You written lot of posts.Suddenly when you find that you are on wroung side by asking for a boy\’s \”Comming of Age\”ceremony to a girl under your mental problem of gender discrimination.You are in Panic.

      You Argued there is no ceremony for Hindu girls.But after finding a proof for Girls ceremony you are arguing what a guy is getting i need it for a girl.One can be wroung we are humans.Since you don\’t know there is a \”comming of Age\” ceremony for Hindu Girls.You relaized your misake but unable to accept.
      Imagine if we have a same ceremony for boys and girls than some people may say hinduism is not good giving a girl her right as she has to undergo lot of stress during puberty and all.One can argue in lot of ways.
      You know for a hindu girl puberty ceremony how much money is spent..?
      what kind of religious food is feeded ?
      How the food is helpful for the girl to aintain her health and to cope up with blood loss..?
      Do you know how the religious dishes/ceremony/rituals are helpful to nuture the organs and skin of a girl during puberty.

      Similarly do you know what kind of food is feeded to a Guy in thread ceremony..?
      Do you think a girl has to go home by home for food like ia guy with empty stomach? Is it possible ?
      Do you feel a girl has to shave her hair in an adolescent stage where we say the beauty of a girl is her hair..?
      Do you feel a girl has to keep a panchshika on her head .. and you know how bad it looks for a girl.
      For thread ceremony its compulsory to be bare cheasted just like when we go to vaishnava temples the men has to be bare chested do you think a girl has to be bare chested at her puberty…?
      Nita, argue when you know the subject but blindly without knowing thread ceremony you cant say this is not there for girls.

      • Bombay wadapav eater permalink
        June 19, 2009 5:18 am

        btw thread ceremony is performed when the boy is 4 or 5, latest by 7 and it is the beginning of entry into the educational aquirement. I know that many Brahmins including my uncle’s thread ceremony was performed when he got married so it can be delayed until marriage but then the actual cause of the thread ceremony according to my belief “entry into the educational phase” is lost. My father never wore the thread “janve” and after my brother’S thread ceremony was performed and my mum coaxing him to be a good example, he started performing sandhya vandana (the whole ritual learnt during the thread ceremony) everyday. I remember learning the whole thing myself just by hearing my father and saying the gayatri mantra all the time. It never harmed me and nor did my parents forbid me from saying it altho’ I am a woman too. I guess if the old custom was followed, even I would have undergone thread ceremony when I was 5 just like my brother did. I remember my father and my mum mention it that it seems it was performed on women also during ancient times just like in Parsis where the navjot was performed on both the sexes. Puberty comes much later in life! And during the thread ceremony or even the marriage ceremony, the males wear a sort of dupatta/ stole around on the shoulder so it is not bare. And remember that there are pictures of bare-breasted Kali/ Shakti stamping or dancing on Shiva’s breast.

        • June 19, 2009 1:39 pm

          @Bombay Vadapav eater,

          “btw thread ceremony is performed when the boy is 4 or 5, latest by 7.”
          I told as per tradition it is between 5-15 years Its purely personal choice when a guy want to undergo.

          “it is the beginning of entry into the educational requirement.”
          Yes it is required for the vedic studies for a boy.For a girl it is not required to enter into vedic studies.

          “I know that many Brahmins including my uncle’s thread ceremony was performed when he got married so it can be delayed until marriage.”
          The delay is only due to our own constraints like performing of sandya vandanam or maintaining celibacy
          life.Mostly now a days we dont prefer celibacy as it is common in Hindu girls and Boys to enter into short term relationships,teen dating,dating with or without commitment or marriage,pre-maritial sex .etc so most people prefer it before marriage.As a boy is not eligible for marriage without thread ceremony it is performed just before marriage symbolically.Also now a days boys dont go for vedic studies so its ok to perform before marriage.

          “but then the actual cause of the thread ceremony according to my belief “entry into the educational phase is lost.”
          there is no relationship to education and thread ceremony.Without thread ceremony one can enter into school
          and have studies.Before education the ceremony for Hindu boys and girls is “Aksharabyas” Now dont mix this
          ceremony with Puberty ceremony.

          “My father never wore the thread “janve” and after my brother’S thread ceremony was performed and my mum coaxing him to be a good example, he started performing sandhya vandana (the whole ritual learnt during the thread ceremony) everyday.”
          Its very nice to hear about your brother doing sandya vandanam sorry about your father.

          “even I would have undergone thread ceremony when I was 5 just like my brother did.”
          if you are elgible to undergo for a puberty ceremony you need to undergo a puberty ceremony not thread ceremony .. You can see this in “Balika vadhu” prominent hindi serial in Colors about puberty ceremony.Its your personal choice.For
          your education you should go for “Aksharbyas” ceremony.

          “During the thread ceremony or even the marriage ceremony, the males wear a sort of dupatta/ stole around on the shoulder so it is not bare.”
          It is not duppatta it is “uttarya” for men during marriage and thread ceremony.It should be tied around the waist and chest should be bare during the “Kaarya” like when a guy (Kartha) is performing vedic duties like Yagya and a girl should be in a vedic saree.Just like when a girl performs a dance she ties her chunni to her waist.

          “And remember that there are pictures of bare-breasted Kali/ Shakti stamping or dancing on Shiva’s breast”
          Being Bare chested for hindu girls is purely personal choice. Now since there is a gender equality and Hindu girls wear mini skirts and micro skirts.We shouldn’t see anything wroung in that.. its a personal choice of a hindu girl.But we should respect a girl even if she wears a micro skirt or a saree.I personally love to see
          Hindu Girls to be independent in their decision making and free to wear what she likes.

  26. June 17, 2009 12:18 pm

    If we read religious books, we can understand that they are only for helping human beings to achieve their objective of realizing everyone are God.

    As far as I am concerned, one can decide that s/he belong to a certain religion only by following its principles and not because s/he was born to parents who claim to be of that religion.

    If we take Hinduism, they say there were sruthi and smrithi. Sruthi is a set of philosophies that stays for all period where as Smrithis should be altered as per the current demands. They even bring Ramayana and Mahabharatha under smrithis. The best example for smrithi is widow remarriage. In those days where wars were more common, it was hard to find a young guy for marriage as they used to dye in war. Many of the young ladies stayed unmarried because of shortage of young guys. so they develop a law allowing no widow to remarry. This is a sruthi which doesnt suit this current AD and should be altered. But no one dare question religion. The problem in Hinduism is that it is very old philosophy. Since it is handled by variety of people these many years, the original philosophies were distorted naturally. Few well thought interactive lessons became mere rituals. Few sects of people, to ensure their suvival, added some unnecessary procedures using people’s fear. Few of the esteemed procedures were treated to be barbaric as there is no one to explain the reason behind that.

    Who ever follows Hinduism should understand that rituals are only to teach certain theories in a more interactive way and there is no need to attach any emotion behind it. They should be brave enough to cut any rituals that is not uniting the people as no philosophy can be bigger than unity after all the very base of all religion is to understand everyone are God. Instead of making people understand the above, I dont think, allowing women to wear thread will bring any difference.

    By the way I am an agnostic and dont claim to be a Hindu.

  27. Uday permalink
    June 17, 2009 4:12 pm

    Nita,

    Sorry to be direct but you seem too caught up with feminism and your identity as a woman ;). Nothing wrong with it, but when you become obsessive with it, it kind of limits your potential.

    Coming to the topic, it seems completely opposite to the actual truth. Isn\’t Hinduism the only existing mainstream religion where Goddess worship is allowed or is at least as prominent as God worship? Even in mainstream Christianity, Mother Mary is second to Jesus.

    I would suggest you to read a book written by Linda Johnsen (an American WOMAN) called \”Complete Idiot\’s Guide to Hinduism\”. Here are couple of pages from the book to give you an idea:
    http://tinyurl.com/hinduism73
    http://tinyurl.com/hinduism74

    Read the section \”Ramakrishna Samples Religions\” from the below pages:
    http://tinyurl.com/hinduism80
    http://tinyurl.com/hinduism81
    http://tinyurl.com/hinduism82

    The amusing part is, Linda, like you is (or rather was) a strong feminist. She was from Norway, born Catholic but not particularly religious. In any case, she had an \”out-of-body\” experience (also called God-experience — watch the interesting video at the end for more explanation) out of nowhere when she was a teenager (not drug or alcohol induced hallucination but clear experience – what she calls the realest real). The experience lasted only a few moments, and according to her it was beyond words. It was completely unexpected, and she could never duplicate it (as she had no idea why/how it occurred in the first place).

    Her fervor to reproduce the experience led her to India, where she studied at the feet of several Masters (men and women) including the woman saint from Kerala – Ammachi, and Shree Maa of Kamakhya, Assam).

    Feminist as she was, she was amazed to see the importance given to Goddess in Hinduism. This very tradition attracted her to study the religion itself. She has written another book specifically on Women Saints of India
    http://tinyurl.com/womensaints

    Think about it. Ever heard of Ammachi – the woman Saint from Kerala (one of the Saints under whom Linda studied)?
    http://www.ammachi.org/
    http://www.amritapuri.org/
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTh4MXQ8H2I

    She is a dark-skinned, uneducated, \”lower-caste\” woman (daughter of a fisherman) from Kerala. She can\’t even speak any other language other than Malayalam – her mother tongue. And yet she has millions and millions of devotees in India (far far more than highest male Brahminical Shankaracharya — in fact no comparison). If Hinduism was that much against women, how is it that so many Hindus including several Brahmins fell (and continue to fall) at Her feet? How is it that no sane Brahmin priest dares to issue a \”fatwa\” against Her?

    The same can be said about the beautiful Anandamayi Ma from Bengal or Shree Maa from Assam or virtually any woman saint in India. They have humongous following irrespective of their caste or their gender.

    I am not denying that women are suppressed in the Indian society. Even these great Women-Saints to go through tough times because of the society (so did several \”Men\” Saints including Jesus). But that is mainly because of \”Might is right\”. It is therefore virtually true in every society. When you have true power, people fear you, irrespective of whether you are man or woman. Women, on average, are physically weaker and therefore are subjugated. It has little to do with religion (more to do with societies).

    Here is a good video talking about \”God experience\” explained in layman terms (watch carefully from 15:33 to 22:40 especially starting at 16:52)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9q7pkfh1PN4

    As the man himself says \”Anybody who goes through this experience, acceptance of everybody as he or she is starts coming into your life… then superficial concepts which lead to religious fanaticism, linguistic fanaticism etc. disappear\”.

    He should have also added gender based fanaticism to the list.

    Even the above video is very interesting in the sense that different people focus on totally different things (it actually speaks about their mental conditioning or innate prejudices). An American friend of mine focused on his dress code, a Muslim thought Allah is going to punish the guy for spreading wrong messages.

    For those whose hearts are open, and who see beyond these superficial things, the difference between experiential understanding and intellectual understanding is very clear.

    Regards,
    Uday

    Thanks Uday, for your views about Hinduism. All I can say is that they are different from mine. Maybe one day I will explain why I think Hinduism does not respect women but the answer here will be too long. However I think you should not assume that I am a feminist. Although ofcourse I have a strong identity as a woman, just as much as you have as a man. No more, no less. – Nita.

  28. June 17, 2009 7:26 pm

    It is believed that when the caste system originally started, people were able to move from one caste to another…it was based on occupation.

    is this true?

    • June 18, 2009 10:51 am

      A per my learning and understanding about caste system. Occupation based caste systems did exists.
      But there was very stiff opposition to change of caste. I most of the cases change of caste was forcible. Major caste changes happened in India were during British Raj. Before that People were happy with whatever they were born with.

    • vasudev permalink
      June 19, 2009 9:26 pm

      your chance to ‘upgrade’ your caste comes during the next census. remember!

      • June 21, 2009 2:56 pm

        Me not aware of anything as such. Pointer appreciated.

  29. vasudev permalink
    June 17, 2009 8:43 pm

    for brahmin boys, thread ceremony marks the start of regular communion with god and chanting of sacred mantras. it is believed that girls can become ‘period’ically impure despite a pure divine mind but for a bleeding body(which does not recognise the significance of the water bath). boys with a dirty mind do not physically manifest and hence the dirtiness of the mind is not considered as ‘carried-over’ to the post bath stage. hence, no evidence, nothing unholy!

  30. June 17, 2009 8:50 pm

    Here is the Analysis of the Hindu Thread marriage for Boys Vs The Hindu Girls Puberty ceremony.

    Let us analyse how the Comming of Age ceremony for a Hindu Girl and a Boy benefits them.

    For a Hindu girl puberty ceremony
    1) It is a grand affair and lot of money is spent more than for thread ceremony for boys..?
    2) Girl is feeded with religious and vedic food which is helpful for the girl to maintain her health and to cope up with blood loss.
    3) Hindu Religious Puberty ceremony and dishes are helpful to nuture the female organs and skin of a girl during puberty.
    4) The types of food varies as per the caste and region and the most prominent being the mixture of til (Sasem) and Gudd(Sugar cane). Chimmiri in Andhra Pradesh and various names thru out India in all languages. http://www.gayatrivantillu.com/chimmiri
    5) There are various forms of dresses offered to the girl as per caste and region
    6) The girl is informed by elders,priests,religious heads & caste heads about the Do’s and Don’t for a girl for the well being.
    7) Girl is introduced to the vedic puja (Daily Worship) related to Godess lalita or as per the diety of the caste/region of a girl.
    8) She will be told by the elders how to lead a life and how her actions should be.Thus she will become responsible for her actions.
    9) The ceremony marks a end of childhood.
    8) The girl will be able to cope up with the changes happened to her physically and will be guided to
    concentrate for her future life.
    9) Finally, The Girl will be ready for the marriage.

    Now for the Boy Thread marriage ceremony.
    1) The food offered to the boy is very simple and the vedic food varies as per the caste and region.The food offered will not have any items which will benefit for a girl.Rather the food offered is in specific for a boy which will help him to maintain concentration including a fasting for specific days and one time meal for specific
    days.
    2) The boy has to go home by home for food with an empty stomach (Bhiksha).
    3) The boy will be shaved of his hair on head This is a vedic ritual needed for a Thread ceremony.Shaving of a girl’s head is incorrect and cant be done for a “Comming of Age” ceremony for a girl.Infact it will be beautiful for a girl to have hair on head rather shaved head.
    4) The guy has to keep a panchshika on the head.the girl shouldn’t be shaved and panchshika is not advisible for girl looks.
    5) For thread ceremony its compulsory to be bare cheasted just like when we go to vaishnava temples the men has to be bare chested.The Hindu girl cant be a bare chested and rather in a puberty ceremony
    Lehanga/Pattu Langa(south India) will be introduced as a dress which really looks cute for girls. ..
    6) The Boy is introduced to the vedic dress of uttarya (White Cloth wrapped on chest/upper body) & Dhoti (White cloth with Punchkatto (five ends closed) for lower body) .
    7) The guy will be introduced to the vedic puja (Daily Worship) and to the Godess Gayatri Devi and the lord as per the caste or region.where as The Girl is also introduced for the Puja.
    8) He will be told by the elders how to lead a life and how his actions should be.Thus he will become responsible for his actions.
    9) The ceremony marks a end of childhood..
    10) The Guy is told by the Guru or father or Elders of the family/Caste/religion how to lead a brahmachari life till the guy gets into Gruhastha (Married) Life.
    10) Finally, The boy will be ready to lead a brahmachari life with celebacy(Bachelor Life) and further will be ready for marriage.

    We ourselves can conclude how it is beneficial for as per the gender.

    • June 18, 2009 4:33 am

      In short what your are trying to say is that the girl is fed and primed and advertised as being ready for sacrifice in the alter of marriage, and the poor boy gets the short end of the stick because he gets the lecture of how to lead his life, without the delicious food or the money used to advertise? Eh? Then why is the boy now called Brahma charee? Means inside one whom Brahma roams? And why does his thread ceremony get done when he is any where between 6 years of age to just before marriage? I would call neither the end of childhood, would you? How ever you disguise it, what it comes down to is that the boy gets indoctrinated into the vedic philosophy of life, and the thread ceremony marks that beginning. But the girl gets the option only through marriage, and there she gets to follow what ever philosophy (there are many in the vedic philosophy itself) she is married to. (of course the boy does not get much of a choice due to parental guidance, but at least he is exposed to various ideas and philosophies, how ever they may be, and he can make a choice, by changing his teacher!-but a girl cant change her husband can she?)

      Meenashi, I am so relieved to read your comment. Thanks. I had started to think that I have hardly any women readers! I believe in gender equality and my whole post was about that. That we have now started to give equal opportunities to women in various fields but religion is not keeping up with the times. I am glad to read that there are people like you who believe that women should get these the same educational opportunities and exposure to the world as men. – Nita

      • June 18, 2009 10:10 am

        Meenakshi,

        See, Money is spent on both for boy and girl ceremony and it depends on personal financial status of a family.Just like the marriage function.Whatever the family feels to spend and can afford they can spend that
        much.We in our family made a it a grand affair..and i envy my sisters that they had a bigger function…:)

        See after Puberty ceremony the girl can opt for being single…one of my cousin remained single by choice and she works with harward.One of my cousin had divorced her husband due to personal reasons..so getting
        married or being single is a personal decision of a girl.

        Do’s and Don”t are told to both Boy and girl during and after the ceremony.In some rich families the Boys ceremony is also celebrated with lot of fanfare and money.Like one of my kshatriya friend had celebrated his thread ceremony for 7 days .. with lot of gifts to friends and families .. its again a personal choice.. so the boy is not poor or getting a short end of stick .. or without delicious food and all this.

        The unmarried boy is called Brahmachari and married man is called Gruhasthu.No its not that Brahma roams inside.A Bit of Brahma roams in all living things from supreme ParaBrahmaSwaroopa.

        Thread ceremony for a boy is done between 5 and 15 years.Because the minimum age for a boy to leave a childhood is 5 years.The change of food habits and the performance of puja,sandya vandanam the boy can be
        only ready with a atleast 5 years.even for the pronounciation of the words…taking all this into account between 5- 15 years is taken.In some families people will be unable to perform thread ceremony due to
        personal choice or any reason… so they go for a thread ceremony before marriage irrespective of age.Only after thread ceremony the boy can marry….Still its a personal choice to have thread ceremony or not.

        Ofcourse,once thread marriage is over the childhood is over.Because the boy was introduced to a systematic lifestyle and he has to follow that.Thats why our forefathers say from scriptures all the sins we commit before
        thread marriage or girls puberty the sins will be beared by God and there after the sins should be beared by ourselves.

        Yes,Thread ceremony marks the eligibility to have vedic studies.But its a personal choice to go to vedic studies or not.. Like i am a management professional and i only perform Puja.My cousin is an Engineer and he never performs Puja nor follows vedic lifestyle.Even in olden days its not compulsory for a boy to go into vedic philosophy there are lot more philosophies .. but mostly people follow vedic life style.. A kshatriya may opt for going into studies of metallurgy for armoury.Girl can make her own choice. My sisters studied
        management and masters in sciences and they had a puberty ceremony.The girl can remain single in olden days also and now also .. there is no compulsion to get marry and opt for a certain way.. i had given you examples of my cousins and in olden days you can take the example of Meera Bhai and Radha.

        The Girl can remain single and live a vedic lifestyle.Its not that the girl gets a vedic lifestyle with marriage and thru husband.Thru Husband she will get a gruhasthu life (Family Life). My sisters use to follow vedic life before
        marriage also.They do lalita sahasra Namam and various hymns from Vedas.Its purely personal interest and choice.

        The girl is also exposed to various vedic literature.Only the Godess will differ.Like i said in all castes and regions they follow certain Godess.. the girl will be exposed to that.

        Yes, the Boy can change his course of studies both in olden ages and now also .. even girls can do that.i had seen lot of girls changing there course of education, jobs and profession.

        I had clarified that girl can have a vedic life without husband and marriage being single.For changing husband the girl can opt for a divorce.

        • June 18, 2009 5:05 pm

          Thanks for the enlightenment!;) If the amount of money spent on a function was the objective of this post, I must re think my education. I am not sure “Mine was bigger than yours,” is the essence of gender equality.
          brahmachari: Indian Hindu Dictionary on brahmacharini

          brahmachari (m), brahmacharini (f): One who moves in Brahman; that is, one who continually fixes the mind on the eternal Truth. The more common meaning is student, or one who practices spiritual discipline and celibacy.
          There I knew my Sanskrit was not off mark! ;)
          I wonder how it has been decided that 5 to 15 years is perfectly alright to end childhood. Will childhood magically end once the thread ceremony is done to a 5 year old?(just sarcasm, not a question)

          If I remember my Vedanta right, and the story of Ani-mandavya, he never involved a thread ceremony to declare the age for willful sin. Rather just age, and yama got cursed because he punished the sage for a ‘sin’ he did when he was six, irrespective of whether it was before or after the thread ceremony .
          “Yes,Thread ceremony marks the eligibility to have vedic studies.But its a personal choice to go to vedic studies or not.. Like i am a management professional and i only perform Puja.My cousin is an Engineer and he never performs Puja nor follows vedic lifestyle.Even in olden days its not compulsory for a boy to go into vedic philosophy there are lot more philosophies .. but mostly people follow vedic life style.. A kshatriya may opt for going into studies of metallurgy for armoury.Girl can make her own choice.”

          In those days as of today our education has hardly any relevance to what we do later in life.
          Let us compartmentalize this to-those days, and today. In those days, if we accept that vedic studies were not meant for a life as a Brahmin alone…(since a vast section of the society went to gurukula and studied)… we can infer that philosophy was aimed at betterment of the mind and not for earning a living…hence every body had the privilege of learning it irrespective of what they would do with it. Fast forward it a few hundred years…Indians today read only with the aim of how useful it will be to their economic success. So people like you place more importance to the display of wealth and the importance of bhakti yoga(chanting of mantra and devotion) and forget any thing else that philosophy would have to offer.
          As for the rest of your comment, there is a gross misconception (could be me or you) as to what constitutes a vedic life. And no a girl of those times, did not have a choice of changing her husband or remaining single. Mirabhai was married, and Radha was a fictional character. Of course today’s women divorce or remain single, but I doubt vedic philosophy is in their mind when they do so.

          Nita: I have to confess that given a choice I would not opt of the thread ceremony and would discard it quicker than dew in summer if it was imposed on me, because it is an empty outdated ritual. Instead I would have appreciated it if at some point in my early life I had be presented with books on Hindu philosophy, or even an open discourse on the various school of thoughts. Today a thread ceremony is merely a symbol, devoid of essence. But that is just me. Sorry for dragging this argument, beyond sanity.

          Meenakshi, I too would not have liked to have this ceremony! :) However there are those who strongly believe in rituals and well, they should do them and should feel free to do them if they want to. – Nita.

          • June 18, 2009 5:32 pm

            True!

            • June 18, 2009 7:19 pm

              “Amount of money spent on a function”
              Money arises depending on the family status.But we can’t say a comming to Age funtion of a tribal
              girl or boy is inferior to thread ceremony since the money spent or way of performing differs.

              There are no issues regarding Meaning of rahmachari.brahmachari (m), brahmacharini (f):

              “I wonder how it has been decided that 5 to 15 years is perfectly alright to end childhood. Will childhood
              magically end once the thread ceremony is done to a 5 year old?(just sarcasm, not a question)”
              If you dont accept it than you can change the age like before marriage or after marriage or childhood or
              adulthood as per your wish No one is there to ask in Hinduism, No fatwas anything, Purely your wish…:).

              “In those days as of today our education has hardly any relevance to what we do later in life.”
              Well, If so than one has to read entire vedas..? No .. a Khatriya course differs to a Vyshaya.Similarly a Brahmin who wants to become a poet course will differ to a brahmin who want to become a Cook.similarly lot of other professions like an astrologer,mathematician,minister,painter,doctor… etc

              “we can infer that philosophy was aimed at betterment of the mind and not for earning a living…hence every
              body had the privilege of learning it irrespective of what they would do with it.”
              Yes, No one in those days use to work for living..But definetly their is a choice for the selection of the
              curriculam and what one wants to perform (Karma) in life time.So they also have a career building just like
              today.. This you can confirm even in todays vedic Gurukuls…No changes have been made still they are
              running with same courses.

              “So people like you place more importance to the display of wealth and the importance of bhakti
              yoga(chanting of mantra and devotion) and forget any thing else that philosophy would have to offer.”
              I am from a poor family and i dont have a house nor a vehicle i just walk on the roadside in pollution you want to make fun of my wealth i dont have any problem….:)

              “And no a girl of those times, did not have a choice of changing her husband or remaining single.”
              I think family life is prevalent in those days so girls use to marry and have kids.Regarding changing of
              husband in those days i dont think Hindu girls use to change husbands in those days.In Ramayana Sita had
              remained single leaving Lord Rama after returning to Ayodhya.But she did not remarried nor had maintained any relationship with any other person after leaving Lord Rama .. So we can take this as an example for single women after marriage.

              “Of course today’s women divorce or remain single, but I doubt vedic philosophy is in their mind when they do so.”
              But we should respect women who wants to be single irrespective of what their intentions are vedic or non vedic.We should fight for the abolition of social status.. .which is prevalent in Hinduism.A single boy or a girl should be given same respect as a family woman or man.Asking social status should be trated like a crime in India just like in Europe….:)

              We should respect all and shouldn’t be jealous by seeing people celebrating marriages and ceremonies.We may not like ceremonies but tommorow our kids or near ones may like it .. so shall we impose our idea on them.Thats why ceremonies that to related to family,caste & religion is a personal affair can’t critisize any ritual.If we like we should follow otherwise ignore it.I respect all, a rich person or a poor person, religious or
              non religious, Married or single .. Its a European way…:)

              • June 18, 2009 11:33 pm

                “Amount of money spent on a function”
                Money arises depending on the family status.But we can’t say a comming to Age funtion of a tribal
                girl or boy is inferior to thread ceremony since the money spent or way of performing differs.”

                (Scratches head) Are we having a discussion on the same subject, or even a conversation in the vaguest sense of the word… or was in addressed to somebody else, and just came under the magnetic influence of my ego? That can happen ;)

                “Yes, No one in those days use to work for living..But definetly their is a choice for the selection of the curriculam and what one wants to perform (Karma) in life time.So they also have a career building just liketoday..

                Is that sarcasm or are you agreeing to something I have not even said? (was not all professional teaching held as a family secret passed on from father to son…without the involvement of vedic studies)

                “So people like you place more importance to the display of wealth and the importance of bhakti
                yoga(chanting of mantra and devotion) and forget any thing else that philosophy would have to offer.”
                I am from a poor family and i dont have a house nor a vehicle i just walk on the roadside in pollution you want to make fun of my wealth i dont have any problem….:)

                Eh what you place importance to is quite different to what you actually have!

                “…husband in those days i dont think Hindu girls use to change husbands in those days.In Ramayana Sita had
                remained single leaving Lord Rama after returning to Ayodhya.But she did not remarried nor had maintained any relationship with any other person after leaving Lord Rama .. So we can take this as an example for single women after marriage.”

                No! Did you really bring Sita in the context of gender equality and freedom of thought? And in the same sentence mention that she left Rama? Really? We seem to read different mythological stories as well! or you need to seriously re think what constitutes gender equality.
                That means there cant be any sensible conversation…or exchange of views.(even in the vaguest sense!
                Sorry Nita..I will not take up any more space!

                • June 19, 2009 12:31 am

                  “(was not all professional teaching held as a family secret passed on from father to son…without the
                  involvement of vedic studies)”
                  Yes, there are professions kept as family secret but definetely there is an open option to join as apparentice
                  and build a career in those days in profession.
                  Yes, without vedic studies students use to obtain knowledge and build their career. No issues regarding this.

                  “Eh what you place importance to is quite different to what you actually have!”
                  I told i have nothing in this world as wealth and i dont accumulate it. I dont give importance to wealth But i
                  respect people who are wealthy also along with poor.No difference for me both are same.

                  “And no a girl of those times, did not have a choice of changing her husband or remaining single”
                  These are your own words taken from your response.For which My answer was,

                  “I dont think Hindu girls use to change husbands in those days.In Ramayana Sita had remained single leaving
                  Lord Rama after returning to Ayodhya.But she did not remarried nor had maintained any relationship with any
                  other person after leaving Lord Rama .. So we can take this as an example for single women after marriage.”

                  As per Ramayana Its true Sita didn’t had any relationship with other person after the separation from Lord Ram.This we can take as an example for hindu girl remaining single in those days.
                  Taking sita as an example we can say that in those days Hindu girls dont change husbands.Even after
                  separation from their husband they dont use to go for a relationship or remarriage or any kind of relation with other male.Because in those days girls dont prefer to change husbands and they were like that.

                  Now in these days, since we have a fall of Hindu family system a girl can change her husband.She is free to
                  make her choice to change husband and go for a relationship with other man and she is free to choose a Guy of her liking at any time without coercion.or she can choose a divorce after marriage or she can choose to be a single woman.She can go for a date with marriage or without marriage.Similarly a guy also is having his choice to make.This could be possible only due to gender equality.

                  “No! Did you really bring Sita in the context of gender equality and freedom of thought? And in the same
                  sentence mention that she left Rama? Really?”
                  Ok if she left Lord Rama or Lord Rama left Sita, But finally there was a separation.After separation Sita had not changed her husband nor had gone for any other relationship with other man after separation.but in present age a Hindu girl is free to have a relationship after separation & it is her right.

                  Don’t you feel it brings a Gender equality.I strongly prefer a Hindu woman should be given 100% freedom just like
                  Man.Thats why i strongly encourage widow marriages immidiately after the death of the husband,Divorce, 2nd
                  marriages.Pre-Maritial dating also gives a woman her right to know the guy fully before marriage.

                  “That means there cant be any sensible conversation…or exchange of views.”
                  I had given reply to all your phrases and Questions. I am 100% sensible regarding Gender equality .. you can see my words.

                • June 19, 2009 12:57 am

                  Meenakshi,

                  If you feel there is no separation of Lord Rama & Sita in Ramayana returning to Ayodhya after Lanka war than certainly you studied a different Ramayana and i had studied a different Ramayana…is it possible..: )
                  :) Okay let me give you a clue…listening washerman’s words in the night when Lord Rama goes on a secret visit to see how the living of the people in his kingdom.. Lord Rama & Sita will fall apart.
                  Ans Sita never returns to Lord Ram after this separation.

                  Hope now you understood, from where i picked.

                  • June 19, 2009 11:00 pm

                    Yes I know quite well. I was pointing to the fact that you said that she left Rama. It is not the same as Rama left her-Though the out come seems the same. When you say she left Rama, it automatically implies that she made the choice. and it was not imposed on her by Rama. The character of Sita in most of Ramayana was merely to be a prize to be , gained, lost and regained, or remain as a shadow of her husband. She does not really signify the epitome of women’s emancipation, since she would not raise a word, to even protest her own unjust. What she portrayed was the moral obedience that was a cherished character in the society of her time. Obedience and respect are usually earned, and when forced on some one represent suppression of freedom which is a basic human right. So in this context, your representation of Sita as a single woman, free to choose her education and philosophy is wrong., and implying that just because she was single and not under the shadow of another man, she was emancipated are also wrong. Seriously marital status or views on remaining single are not really signs of emancipation, but the side effects of it.

                    • June 19, 2009 11:44 pm

                      “Yes I know quite well. I was pointing to the fact that you said that she left Rama.”
                      Glad you know this in Ramayana.. :) Than you studied the same epic as I.

                      “When you say she left Rama, it automatically implies that she made the choice. and it was not imposed on her by Rama.”
                      Yes, true but Later Lord Rama pleaded her to be back which she ignored probably, enjoyed being single.

                      “She does not really signify the epitome of women’s emancipation, since she would not raise a word, to even
                      protest her own unjust.”
                      Thats why i love to see Hindu women as a free bird with out the clutches of Hindu Boy.

                      “Obedience and respect are usually earned”
                      Yes, Hindu Women in those days use to earn respect like that unlike these days.

                      “your representation of Sita as a single woman, free to choose her education and philosophy is wrong., and implying that just because she was single and not under the shadow of another man”
                      So, you dont want to accept sita as single woman after leaving Rama.. Than you mean she is staying with
                      other Man..? I am asking about being single or not (maritial status) not about education and philosophy. the purpose is to know a woman is single or not in those days.

                    • June 20, 2009 3:00 am

                      Also you could google for yagnopavithan sanskar, and it might help clear up if it is indeed a boy puberty ceremony. You could also try under the’ significance of the thread ceremony’. Beyond that I would not want to try and convince you.

              • Bombay wadapav eater permalink
                June 19, 2009 5:47 am

                Have you ever heard of teh “gandharva maariage” in teh vedic era? the girl was allowed to choose her own husband. i guess that sita too decided to marry the winner of the person who broke the bow and now just that Kind Janak suggested the competition. Same with Draupadi who married the winner of the one who met the fish in the eye with the arrow. I reckon that when Karan/ karna wanted to participate, he wasn’T allowed since Krishna prompted to Draupadi of not letting him participate. I am not sure but I guess so. In any case there are many learned women like Maitrayi and Gangi.
                Check
                http://books.google.de/books?id=1chAq-ETv7oC&pg=PA2&lpg=PA2&dq=gangi+learned+women+in+vedic+times&source=bl&ots=H3N1hO0yDg&sig=L1Y93R4MUkcOZLs-4p054ke0g8Q&hl=de&ei=rtg6So-BFJewsgblrvjXBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1

                • Bombay wadapav eater permalink
                  June 19, 2009 5:50 am

                  My comments were replies to Kumar. Wonder why it is coming under yours since I am on your side.

                  • June 19, 2009 6:52 am

                    @wadapav eater I dont think it would be fair to bring eithor Draupadi or Sita into the context in choice of suitor; Just as it would not be fair to bring Rama or the Pandavas. Marriage in their case had political or strategic importance, and their view in that matter would be the last thing considered. They were merely a source for kingdoms to form strong alliances and they would never had any choice in that matter except in wishful thinking.

                    As for puberty rituals I did not have proper source links so I did not want to bring it up, but I have read that it is merely a ritual of the rich and famous hijacked by the so called wanna- be elites of the society. The puberty ritual was a way of advertising that with an eligible girl the powerful were ready for alliances through marriage. I am not sure it has any vedic authenticity to it. (but I could be wrong)

                    • June 19, 2009 10:04 am

                      How can you say the puberty ritual is only for rich.The Hindu tribals, SC’s and ST’s also perform to the girls after the attainment of the puberty.

                      No, after Puberty function also girls can live single life.I had given you example of my cousin sister.Infact i like to see more and more girls being single just like in Europe.That will give a Hindu girl more choice and live a better life.

                      Ofcourse, it has a vedic authenticity just like Thread ceremony.

      • Bombay wadapav eater permalink
        June 19, 2009 5:37 am

        I really love your comment! And this whole puberty ritual thingie is Greek to me and I am happy that it is not performed among Sarastwat Brahmins. Also as mentioned in my above comment, even my parents mentione dthat in ancient times, the thread ceremony was performed on women too. In any case, my father was very particular about my education and would have been disappointed if I did not fare well. if i argued that my brother was playing so much longer than me and what if fared badly, my father’s answer was: well as a boy, he can become a car mechanic but you have to be a good academic. A good career for me than my brother was equally if not more important to my parents.

        • June 19, 2009 10:17 am

          Just because you are a saraswat Brahmin .. there is no ceremony for a puberty girl….Its not like that.. nor some thing which is greek for you is same for all.. You can check a video with Nita to see a Puberty cereony i had sent to her.

          It depends on the kind of family you came from ..
          1) Some Hindu parents are lazy and they dont celebrate all ceremonies.
          2) Some Hindu parents ignore a Hindu Girl child thinking its waste to spent money on a girl.
          3) Some Hindu parents kill Hindu girl child right in the foetus.
          4) Some Hindu Parents dont allow Hindu girls to have relationships whereas they allow for Hindu boys.
          5) Some Hindu parents dont allow a hindu girl to go out in the night.
          6) Actually now a days hindu girls are allowed to go out in the night in the most of the hindu families.

    • Bombay wadapav eater permalink
      June 19, 2009 5:29 am

      And for what you say about the puberty ritual, I never underwent one and nor have I heard of it in my caste. I am a Saraswat Brahmin.

      • June 19, 2009 10:07 am

        If you like to see a video of a girls Puberty Ritual you can ask Nita i had given it to Nita.

        • June 19, 2009 2:55 pm

          I do admit to a certain amount of ignorance. There exist such a sanskar called the ritu kala sanskar for girls and the equivalent one for the boys called the keshanta kala sanskar for boys. But in all truthfulness, it is a way of advertising that the girl or the boy are into adulthood, and used mostly by families to advertise that the girl is available for marriage. Other than that it has no relevance to the topic Nita posted, nor can it be equated to the thread ceremony performed on the boys.

          • June 19, 2009 6:44 pm

            If the Girls Puberty ceremony is not equal to Thread ceremony of boy Than 1) what is the Comming of Age function for a Hindu Boy. So do you want to mix a Boy finction with girls puberty function..How the girl will get benefitted .. than
            2) what about the benefits of the puberty function for a girl.
            3) There is aksharbyas ceremony for both Boys and girls to start education now dont mix puberty with education.
            4) See, you are asking a comming of age function of a hindu .. do you like to ask for a comming of age function of the MuslimBoy.. Is it possible for a Girl..?
            5) Thread marriage is not superior to Girls puberty ceremony

            • June 19, 2009 9:16 pm

              Though this is not relevant to the post I hope Nita will excuse me this once.
              The ceremony for a boys attainment of puberty is as I mentioned called “keshanta kala sanskar” I believe this custom is not followed today but was once in practice, where like the girl, the boy was also given lot of advice on what it was to be an adult and it was the time of his first shaving , and was presented with is first razor!  As for the benefits that a ritu kala sanskar, supposedly provides. I think it would benefit if the importance of proper diet was taught to every one regardless of gender. Anemia alone is not a common problem in India today. There is more concern for diabetes, and obesity and related issues which is sadly not gender based. More over. A sudden intake of iron will not help as much as a steady diet provided at all times (including before a girl reaches puberty). Imposing the burden of Motherhood on a barely teenage girl , while the society she lives in barely acknowledges sex is misplaced. Teenagers of both genders need proper education that focuses on present day issues when dealing with sex education. Also the ritual involving the maternal uncle, while in a naive sense provides the girl shelter in case of misfortune. It gives the maternal uncle more advantage than is warranted, or socially approved in today’s society. As for the sudden diet of raw egg, or other stuff (read Vedic diet). Why force it on a girl only at that age? Surely protein and iron are beneficial from an early age (what with omega fatty acids and their benefits) And sadly the very family that treats a girls coming of age with such pomp and splendor and appreciating her would be mother hood ness…will discriminate her and force her to believe she is untouchable and polluted for the very same act. The hypocrisy is appalling. If we are to continue further, it would require you to realize that thread ceremony is not a boy puberty function.

              • June 20, 2009 12:10 am

                “keshanta kala sanskar”
                If you believe there is a custom so you can produce a documnentary evidence for this or a video.What it is understood from the word is it is related to hair… Nothing to do with mens puberty.
                We already have panchshika in thread ceremony so it shows there is no ceremony or it is just a word related to hair.
                Normally a girl cant have a panchshika nor a mundan.For girl it is done when she is a widow.. Hope you dont like to mix them again..

                ” what it was to be an adult and it was the time of his first shaving , and was presented with is first razor!”
                Can you come up in Hinduism how many castes go for a shaving or which castes go for shaving and which caste doesn’t go for shaving ..

                Can you come up with the thread ceremony religious diet for Guy and how it beneficial for a Guy.Similarly can you enlighten me ( U love this word naa..okay let me use :) ) How the diet of a thread ceremony meant for a
                boy will help a Hindu girl.And in comparison how the Hindu girl benefits with the diet in the puberty ceremony.

                Since you raised a topic of maternal uncle let me ask you …
                What kind of a role the maternal uncle plays in thread ceremony for a Boy …?

                What kind of a role the paternal Aunt plays in the thread ceremony..?

                Similarly in the puberty ceremony of a girl what role the maternal uncle plays for a girl..?

                “And sadly the very family that treats a girls coming of age with such pomp and splendor and appreciating her would be mother hood ness…will discriminate her and force her to believe she is untouchable and polluted for the very same act.”
                They use to do it as part of hygiene.But now a days you find it rare . i also dont like it.I love to see a hindu girl as a free European girl.

                Your remaining writing doesn’t state that thread ceremony is for a girl.It has been clearly stated thread ceremony is for boys and a girl can participate in vedic activities and vedic life without a thread ceremony.No stopping in this.Hence there is no gener discrimination.Further, i stated that Aksharbyas ceremony is there equally for a boy and a girl.Hope you wont make Hindu girls a widow right in their teenage. Already Hindu parents are killing Girls right at foetus stage.Spend money where it is needed for a girl rather going for a boys ceremony.

        • Bombay wadapav eater permalink
          June 19, 2009 5:28 pm

          Kumar:
          Sorry not interested. As to my knowledge, I have not heard of this ritual being performed among the Saraswat Brahmins and since I lived in a society with only SBs, none of the girls I have known have undergone such ceremonies. Nor have I herad of it among my relatives some of them who live in Bangalore, Goa, Mysore and Chennai. And my parents were definitely not lazy and they have educated me very well! I am a postgraduate in Economics with a major in Econometrics and Mathematical Eco and I was selected in a PhD programme where only 24 students in Germany get entry to with a stipend. And my husband is German so you can be assured that I come from a very broad-minded family.

          Meenakshi

          Unfortunately I have very little knowledge on the epics, etc. . So I assumed about Sita and Draupadi. Though I always wonder how Kunti could just force Draupadi into polyandry. I took a bit of interest in the Gita Govinda because I am an Odissi dancer and at least from those times, Radha was very dominant and women were not lower-positioned than men. But I do reckon that many women in the Vedic times had better rights and Chritianity and Islam distorted a lot as well as Hindus themselves screwed up a lot for personal benefits. I am not sure but I had read somewhere that caste system – the four varnas were introduced for a better division of labour – no one was superior and no one inferior and it wasn’t hereditary. So if a Brahmin’s son was a better warrior, he would become a Kshatriya. I am happy after having read your comments and some others, about the Manu Smriti. I would love to read more if I have the time to know Hinduism better. I am more of an agnostic and do believe in God. But I think God has no shape or form and is just energy and light. Since I do Reiki, i see it that way. I think by giving Gods names and forms it just makes it easier. So I know this is Ganpati and pray to him or Saraswati or Shiv. It is like in higher mathematics. It is hard to visualise a Borel sigma or forms in the fourth dimension and everything gets too abstract. So life becomes easier to simplify such complex issues such as God. And I do agree with Priyank that probably most rituals were made for the purpose of get-together. Probably our ancestors forecasted the nuclear families and somehow wanted new reasons to get people together.

          Priyank:

          I like rituals too esp. brushing my teeth everyday in the morning and at night and telling tarn bed-time stories and putting him to bed or taking him to the park. Only making Traun brush his teeth or toilet training is most strenuous. ;)

          • June 20, 2009 12:31 am

            Bombay Wadapav eater.
            “As to my knowledge, I have not heard of this ritual being performed among the Saraswat Brahmins and since
            I lived in a society with only SBs, none of the girls I have known have undergone such ceremonies.”
            See, i dont like to to disclose my caste… But you believe me it is there.Well since you came from a very
            broadminded Hindu family these ceremonies will normally be ignored and also you are from a urban family.So
            lot of ceremonies in urban areas people wont celebrate due to lack of time,resources whatever be the reason.

            “And my parents were definitely not lazy and they have educated me very well!”
            I am very sorry i doesn’t mean it to your parents but now a days parents are full of stress due to present jobs
            and metro life & whole lot of reasons.So, we dont celebrate most of the festivals and ceremonies.

            ” I am a postgraduate in Economics with a major in Econometrics and Mathematical Eco and I was selected
            in a PhD programme where only 24 students in Germany get entry to with a stipend.”
            Congrats for your acheievement i was there in Germany in my earlier life.Hope you will have a good time
            there.

            ” And my husband is German so you can be assured that I come from a very broad-minded family”
            I understand you are from a well to do family and now a days education and career are more important than
            religious ceremonies and functions though we love them.Sorry, i dont mean anything personal… Cheers.

          • June 20, 2009 3:31 pm

            Meenakshi,

            “Also you could google for yagnopavithan sanskar.”
            I am always open to know anything new.

            When you had seen for the first time yagnopavitham?
            Where you had seen Yagnopavitham?
            On whom all you had seen Yagnopavitham.?

            Can you tell different postures for the Yagnopavitham…. and their significance..?

            In which posture you had seen the Yagnopavitham.

            Significance of the thread ceremony can be discussed at length and we can see no where a girl’s role comes..:)

            • June 20, 2009 4:48 pm

              Your comments on Sita and this are too twisted for a fair debate. As the dialogues proceed I get more more than a clear view of the debater than the debate! All the best!

              • June 21, 2009 1:24 am

                Meenakshi,
                I doesn’t mean anything personal when we are debating.I am really sorry if i hurt you anywhere.I respect you as a brave Indian Hindu Woman.Infact, you had hurted me and my religion.but i won’t complain and i will fight it out what i want and what i can do for my religion.

          • rags permalink
            June 20, 2009 7:59 pm

            “Though I always wonder how Kunti could just force Draupadi into polyandry”

            Was Draupadi forced into polyandry? I thought she was a strong minded woman. Women in polyandrous societies usually have a superior position. But I guess this is out of context because the Pandavas were clearly patriarchial.

            “But I do reckon that many women in the Vedic times had better rights and Chritianity and Islam distorted a lot as well as Hindus themselves screwed up a lot for personal benefits.”

            Why blame Christianity and Islam? Hindus by themselves had enough laws to screw women. Besides I don’t know if there is any historical evidence to prove women were better treated in Vedic times. All we know was they were pastoralists and were just settling down to agriculture.

      • Vinod permalink
        June 19, 2009 1:10 pm

        The girl’s puberty ritual is a big thing in Tamil Brahmins.

        • June 19, 2009 1:50 pm

          Yes, Puberty ceremony is a big thing. Its a big ceremony.I am wondering how some of these girls in the discussion never heard.Probably the costing,metro culture and the modern age issues made them ignorant.Still i wonder atleast the parents should be responsible when they have kids.. I feel it might be because of a burden of a girl child…(feeling in the mind).
          We should fight it out for gender equality.

          • rags permalink
            June 21, 2009 12:19 pm

            I went through this ceremony and even the memory of it is quite revolting to me. If I ever have a daughter I’d never make her go through it.

        • rags permalink
          June 19, 2009 4:57 pm

          OMG, are you a tambram?

        • Vinod permalink
          June 19, 2009 5:39 pm

          Yes, a Palghat Brahmin who has been ridiculed for the way we speak Tamil by the people in Chennai. Why do you ask?

          • rags permalink
            June 19, 2009 9:22 pm

            Then you’re the most atypical tambram I’ve come across. :-) I’ve lived among many and never seen any of them support reservations. That’s why I’m surprised.

            • vasudev permalink
              June 20, 2009 3:31 pm

              rags…a brahmin loses his caste once he crosses the seas (or some say the seven seas).

              • rags permalink
                June 20, 2009 7:49 pm

                Then I wish all Indians would cross the sea once if only to lose their caste..:-) :-)

                • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
                  June 21, 2009 12:38 pm

                  rags,

                  It’s not as easy as all that. The ritual part Hinduism offers a “solution” to every existential dilemma you could imagine. To begin with, the “losing caste by crossing the sea” thing applied mainly to the upper castes(read “Brahmins”) who, as the codifiers of the faith in the first place, devised adequate loopholes and escape clauses. The simple device of a prayashchitta was enough to get you out of the jam. A well-known case is that of Lokmanya Tilak, who underwent the ritual after visiting England, and was reinstated without much fuss.

                  There were other methods too, competing for primacy in their sheer deviousness, but that would be a long story. :-)

            • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
              June 21, 2009 6:51 am

              rags:

              Of course the Palghat Iyers are atypical! An eminent member of their tribe, Tirunellai Narayanaiyer Seshan alias “alsatian”, is reported to have once commented, they excel as cooks, crooks and bureaucrats :-) . Even the most illiterate of them (if there are any) are bilingual, having been exposed since childhood to Tamil and Malayalam in equal measure, and it is not at all uncommon to find several who know four or more languages. They can also boast of several outstanding musicians from their ranks.

              Like most communities that produce achievers in disproportionate measure to their meagre numbers, they attract their share of both admiration and envy. Both these sentiments (depending on the tone used) are reflected in the term pattar, by which they are known to their Malayalee neighbours, and which they often use for themselves in mildly humorous self-deprecation of which only supremely successful and self-confident people are capable.

              • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
                June 21, 2009 7:08 am

                postscript:

                For an interesting account of pattars by one of their own kind, and some insights about them which may have a general bearing on the topic of this post, do go to

                http://www.keralaiyers.com/pkr_pattar.html

              • Vinod permalink
                June 21, 2009 8:50 am

                Vivek, thanks for that link. I’m actually educating myself about some of my family traditions from scratch through those pages.

              • Vinod permalink
                June 21, 2009 9:03 am

                having been exposed since childhood to Tamil and Malayalam in equal measure,

                Yup, I understand Malayalam too although I can’t speak it. My mother writes Tamil in Malyalam script!! My father speaks Malyalam with his brothers and Tamil with his mother!! My grandfather could recite poetry from both Malyalam and Tamil. Our Tamil has a heavy dosage of Malyalam in it. No wonder the Chennail Tamilians mock us. We are a strange species!! My father is more at home among Malyalis than Tamilians. It’s the opposite for my mom.

                • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
                  June 21, 2009 1:08 pm

                  Vinod,

                  You have placed your finger on a familiar phenomenon. It is quite normal in families and communities living in a linguistic environment other than their own to speak both languages (with the exception of the Hindi imperialists, especially after the 1960s). This applies more to the men than the women. Women, until fairly recently, tended to be confined to home and hearth, with little exposure to the outside world. One of the positive outcomes of this was that the mother tongue was preserved even in the alien environment.

                  Maharashtra has many Gujarati and Marwari business families setled there since generations, in which the menfolk tend to speak Marathi, and it is the women who conserve the original Gujarati culture and language.

                  Of course this is changing now, with women getting better education and emerging from their cloistered lives; also because of more cross-regional marriages, and the premium placed on English (and the assault of the Hindi popular media on the privacy of homes) strongly influencing even the domestic environment, especially in urban areas.

              • rags permalink
                June 21, 2009 12:26 pm

                Seshan was the E.C. guy no?
                Vinod, you are in hallowed company :-)

              • vasudev permalink
                June 23, 2009 9:02 pm

                vivek…i salute you on your vast knowledge.

          • Vinod permalink
            June 20, 2009 10:18 am

            My support of reservation is at a high level of general policy. I’m unsure about the details of its implementation especially the way it is currently. I have indicated that in my comments. Still atypical? :)

            • rags permalink
              June 20, 2009 11:42 am

              Yes. From what I’ve seen they are simply allergic to the ‘R’ word. :-)
              Maybe if you had stayed back in India you would have become too. :-)

  31. Rama permalink
    June 17, 2009 11:46 pm

    Hi Nita,
    Your article was very interesting. Btw, a close family member had a thread ceremony for her son and daughter a few years ago, conducted by a male priest.
    Perhaps the priests are more enlightened in some cities :)

  32. June 18, 2009 11:16 am

    Nita, I agree with you, it is a positive development. This is just one of the few signs of the positive changes in our society. Last year I read about female pundits performing marriage ceremonies. Personally I don’t find anything wrong with the rituals as long as they are sources of festivity and are not forced on people. In the fast paced life of today ceremonies like these create occasions for families and extended families to meet and strengthen their bonds.

  33. Vinod permalink
    June 18, 2009 1:43 pm

    Anthropologically speaking, most major modern day religions developed after agriculture developed in human civilization. And the development of agriculture forever divided the society along various lines – gender and class being prominent. The development of agriculture will be viewed very negatively if feminists take a closer look at it. For a detailed analysis of this, pls refer to Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel. A study of hunter gatherer societies reveal that women are treated equally as men. Both have to work to get food to the table. There are many hunter gatherer soceities today that by choice remain like that and reject agriculture. So once the split was made by agriculture, religion formed to naturally reinforce it. One therefore cannot expect the major traditional religions to be treating women equally as men.

  34. June 18, 2009 2:34 pm

    The main problems in hinduism regarding Gender equality are:

    1) Dowry system.
    2) Killing of a Girl child in foetus itself.(As scared of expenditure/spending money on ceremonies for a girl as the girl have more ceremonies in Hinduism)
    3) Confinement of women to kitchen & home in some families.
    4) Supression of expression of women in some families.

    I am totally against any kind of gender unequality.Similarly, Hindu men are also facing numerous problems.But performing boys ceremonies to girls and girls ceremonies to Boys will not bring gender equality.We cant
    say due to thread ceremony boys are exposed more and girls are not exposed.Infact if we start performing a boys comming to age ceremony to girl like this in Islam or judiasm that will be disastrous…isn’t it..?

    We should think the ways how we can empower women right from the childhood by spending more money and giving more care for a girl child.This has been acheived very early in Andhra Pradesh.As N.T.Rama Rao than chief minister of the state had introduced equal rights in property as early as in 1984.

    We should encourage girls to have a unmarried single life rather than going for early marriage.

    • Bombay wadapav eater permalink
      June 19, 2009 5:35 pm

      Kumar

      Female infanticide is not only common among the poor but also the rich and very common in China. Everyone wants to have a boy-child there and it becomes critical when given a choice of just one child.
      I do agree that ceremonies conducted on boys or girls do not play any significant role on equal rights but you should understand what Nita wants to say. At least I think that she meant that performing the thread ceremony was an entry into the educational phase and sth like that was not done on girls for a long time but was a common practice in the vedic times. I see nothing wrong when the original ritualsa nd traditions will come back and Hinduism will gain come to its original broad-mindedness. Altho’ obviously all of us who never underwent a thread ceremony are still very well-educated.

  35. June 19, 2009 7:02 pm

    1) See for education Aksharbyas ceremony is there.It is celebrated to both boys and girls.No gender discrimination.
    2) Why a girl needs a boys thread ceremony when a girl is introduced to vedic studies and living without thread ceremony…?
    3) Girl can go thru vedic literature and rituals alloted to her no need of thread ceremony for this.
    You want to bring back all original rituals back and lock yourself at home.. ? Common i love to see you move freely alone in the Midnight ..
    and enjoy the gender equality being single.
    Just like free girls move around.I am strongly for Gender equality.During Vedic times Hindu women are discriminated i dont disagree to that.. But thread ceremony is for boys .. One can’t ask for the boys ceremony for a girl.

    I strongly recommend a European way.. and love to see Hindu Girls having equal rights like hindu Boys. we are already towards that route as the Hindu family system is no more among hindus.Thats why more and more Hindu girls & boys are against family system and opting for single life.

    I love to see a free Hindu girls without any problems from her hindu males with equal rights just like a European Girl.

  36. vasudev permalink
    June 19, 2009 9:34 pm

    since we are already here can we extend the discussions to ‘vagina monologues’?

    • June 20, 2009 1:25 am

      Feminism is okay to the extent like wearing jeans or asking for male clothes or male jobs,male education..but not to the extent that they like to celebrate a male function.. imagine tommorow girls asking for a muslim “comming to age” ceremony than what will be the source to perform the ceremony for a girl..?
      God knows how we can convince them that this ceremony is not for you …..We have to cry it hard enough, still i feel they cant understand.

      • vasudev permalink
        June 20, 2009 9:29 am

        kumar…actually my comments were on a different path when i talked about the monologues. a group of women theatrical personalities got together to project the pains and pangs of the vagina (not physical) and mainly wanted man to focus on the path of arrival, recognising it and respecting it. i wanted these discussions to continue further on the issues of women that you had highlighted. i expect women here to comment on the topic.

        • June 20, 2009 11:11 am

          Vasu,

          I Thought you are talking about the Eve Ensler’s Episodic play “The Vagina monologues”.

          Anyway, I feel the Indian women should remain as single and enjoy life rather going for marriage like a european women where they marry in late 30′s or 40′s.

          The indian women shouldn’t go for Kids as going for kids may give them a loose physical structure and loss of health.Indian women has to maintain a clean personal hydiene like a European women..

          Indian women should compete with Indian men in each and every field from earning bread to the family to spending money for there pregnancy,health pills and abortions.

          • June 20, 2009 8:03 pm

            :) Interesting advice…

            • vasudev permalink
              June 20, 2009 9:42 pm

              hi nimmy! finally are you plucking coconuts now or going after dragons?

              • Nimmy permalink
                June 20, 2009 10:29 pm

                :) plucking coconuts doesn’t seem to be a nice idea..So I am gonna start some river-soil mafia business .Thatz the hot item this season..

          • rags permalink
            June 20, 2009 9:21 pm

            @ kumar
            Is this sarcastic?

            • June 20, 2009 9:38 pm

              @rags,

              I am serious for the Hindu feminists who defy hindu traditions and rituals.And specially to those who call indian epics as mythological…

              And sarcastic for Nice Indian Hindu women who love Hindu family system and follow Hindu traditions without any western influence.Who perform all ceremonies to their kids as per our traditions irrespective of place (abroad) and constraints.And women who teach their kids about our religion,caste and traditions..And respect fellow Hindus without any caste difference. I just bow in front of that Hindu women.

              • rags permalink
                June 20, 2009 11:23 pm

                Thanks for explaining your stand. Now are there any nice Indian Hindu men who love Hindu family system and follow Hindu traditions without any Western influence and blah blah blah? Would love to meet this new species.

            • vasudev permalink
              June 20, 2009 9:44 pm

              sure! but with a message and a whole lot of forebodings in it!

  37. June 20, 2009 8:04 pm

    Things change over time.. I am for all changes that will make us move forward,with unity…

    • June 20, 2009 8:46 pm

      Thats so positive from you Nimmy. Thumbs-up for you.Hope other women also in the forum are as positive as you.

      Some poor indian women take the help of a male hubby and will cross seas in search of greener/better life on H4.Unable to cope up with blondes or caucasian women…and satisfying themselves seeing Afrikans..
      They are Confused which culture is best ? west or East…? …..:) and there brought up or their confused state says .. anything Indian or Hindu seems mythological to them…their own life becomes mythological to their kids due to confused culture.Far from parents and motherland unable to pratice traditions .. they try to be NRI feminists..:) mincz :) Their thoughts wont help a poor indian women nor themselves.

      Yes, Unity among Indian women will bring lot of changes for good to women.Its possible to bring the change for good and happy living with equality and competing in real sense with males.

      • rags permalink
        June 20, 2009 11:26 pm

        This is my fav line “their own life becomes mythological to their kids due to confused culture” :-)

        • June 21, 2009 9:39 am

          Thank you rags,Even my favorite line is also the same.I am sure after reviewing she will stop using word “Mythological” in public for hindu epics.If she believes so, she can use it in her heart … ofcourse its personal right and freedom.

  38. June 21, 2009 9:39 am

    This is what I love about being a Hindu…it gives us more flexibility than any other religion.

    • June 21, 2009 3:00 pm

      I second it! Hinduism is much more flexible and Awakened one compared to others.

    • Vinod permalink
      June 21, 2009 3:44 pm

      Perhaps people could compare Hinduism and Confusianism Or Buddhism in one or two aspects to illustrate the claim about it being more flexible than any other religion?

  39. Vinod permalink
    June 21, 2009 11:50 am

    Kumar, I could use your perspective on this. Here is the translation of some mantras that is recited during a Kerala Iyer marriage. This part is called Pradhana Homam.

    1,2,3. This offering is poured for soma who had this maid. This offering is poured for the Gandhrava who had this maid. This offering is poured for the Agni (fire God) who had this maid.
    4.This maid has come out from her father’s family where she was a maid and joined my family. I am pouring this offering so that she is excused for the sins she has committed as a maid.
    5.Hey Indra, who grants all desires. Please free this maid from her father’s family’ Please tie her strongly to my family .She is future should develop attachments to my family only. Please make her a part of my family and make her bear male children to me, through her

    Gulp…tell me that it’s not saying what I think it is saying. The source of this is –

    http://www.keralaiyers.com/iyer_wdng5.html

    • June 21, 2009 12:43 pm

      Vinod,

      Good picks.Each and every ritual in our marriage ceremony has a significance… Its quite unfortunate todays Hindu metro women doesn’t understand them.
      For them Marriage is just a relationship for,
      1) sex (Anything less means opening a new door).
      2) Husbands MNC Job & fat pay cheaque.
      3) Father-In-Law House and retirement benefits.
      4) Mother-In-law pickles.
      5) In nuclear family they need a socialization and meet people rather taking care of husband.
      6) Working women can never think of a unemployed Groom.

      Finally, they need a son if not they want to raise their daughter like son (out of feminism) trying with male ceremonies.

      Indian womanhood was cherished in the olden days now it had lost its charm.. thats why we can find that many single woman in India & Guys money is lost in the background checks of profiles with agencies.

      • rags permalink
        June 21, 2009 8:43 pm

        Yes, its quite unfortunate todays’s women don’t understand these cermonies.I’m sure you regret those beautiful olden days when women were merely objects and property.

        • June 21, 2009 8:56 pm

          I don’t approve nor i believe seeing women as objects & property.

          In context of discussion of women as ‘maid’ mentioned in the translation.. the meaning is not equivalent to ‘maid’, It is not the exact word but i feel the appropriate meaning in english what it means in the above link is .. wife is someone who is always there to take part in the activities related to husband, kids and house without expecting anything in return..She is always a giver and doesn’t expect anything in return.

          It is a service to the husband and his house with devotion and love .. and not expecting anything in return.

          • June 22, 2009 12:22 am

            Further to add,The problem of deteriorating or collapse of hindu Family system is limited to the Elite,
            Educated upper class & Upper middle class families that too in the metros and tier-1 cities in India.

            If we observe, The Hindu family system is intact in the lower class,Daily wagerers & Below poverty class in
            India and among Hindu families in tier-2 cities and rural India.Still the women are dedicated to the family.The
            virus had not spread to these people.They are more happier than the urban class of India with regard to family system.

            presently, India is in a transition phase..Europe had undergone a similar phase in between 1950′s and 1960′s.
            Slowly the virus got spread to USA in 1970′s asking for women’s rights.But the effect on USA is not as severe
            as it effected Europe… resulting in a complete collapse of family system in Europe further resulting in a low
            birth rate and rise of aged population.The reason USA didn’t suffered like Europe is … the class of population is mostly working & peasants class migrated from Europe to USA for oppotunities.Another reason is the
            Religion is strong among working class (Protestant christians) in USA and their is a backing of government for
            the strong family system.Not just women rights other reasons include consumerism,development of
            captalistic & materialistic society.

            I feel if the present trend continues in India the most effected population will be in Metros and the upper caste
            population.I strongly recommend readers to watch “Three colors white” a french movie about womens equality
            and the fall of family system and values in Europe.Google it to read story.If lucky you can catch it on UTV world movies…otherwise download on Internet or worth buying a CD.You can relate what India is going thru presently… in that movie.

    • vasudev permalink
      June 23, 2009 9:18 pm

      vinod…nothing wrong with 1,2,3…good to rejuvenate the loins since you are getting ready to do it, anyway. don’t you know there was/is also a ‘yoni puja’? and a ‘yoni porutham’? and there is also a ‘shanti muhurtam’. everything is scientific, if you take it that way. ‘pattars’ to the best of my experience, are the most ‘un-inhibited’ creatures on earth, the most happy, intelligent, practical and bold. maybe this is applicable only to kerala tambrams (as rags puts it). kerala tamil brahmins have been exposed to both the cultures of tamil and mallu.

      4…is actually good. the guy is accepting upfront that the maid has had her fair share of accidents when she was a maid. what’s wrong with that? happily married they remained, ever after.

      5…is actually very good (nay! excellent!0. wish some such was available to us poor nairs also. all our life we live with our wives who have their heart and mind given to their pa’s family and their bodies given to the poor hubby. (result: hubby feed the body (expense! expense!)…pa’s family do the directing. so they would have a clutch on the girl all through-out her (or their) life. tragedy!…)…better free the woman from the clutches of her father’s family and make her whole and soul united with the hubby so that she and her children listen to this sucker!

      i feel these are excellent and most practical mantras. you don’t know what you are missing amongst the pattars!

      • Vinod permalink
        June 24, 2009 7:29 am

        Vasudev, are you being facetious?

        • vasudev permalink
          June 24, 2009 11:29 am

          vinod…no! i have no need to.
          part of it is my own life experience (i think i made it clear wrt nairs)…part of it is through my own close interaction with the pattars of killimangalam (duno if you know the place…)…and the deduction is based on the mantras you cited but i interpreted (too often we throw muck on our own selves w/o understanding the real import)

      • Vinod permalink
        June 24, 2009 12:16 pm

        Can you elaborate on ‘rejuvenating the loins’? I didn’t understand its connection various beings ‘having the maid’.

        • vasudev permalink
          June 24, 2009 2:46 pm

          ???
          you must be joking (or pulling my legs). i ain’t gonna elaborate on the specific words (u look up a dic) but the guys referred to are all great with a lot of horse power downtown. rest…i leave to your own imagination. simply put, the hymns are supposed to give the mystical ‘mythical’ blessings of power/energy/fire for whatever trials one is to face with the maid.

  40. rags permalink
    June 21, 2009 12:51 pm

    I don’t think these mantras should be taken literally. I’m wondering what ‘maid’ means..

    • Vinod permalink
      June 21, 2009 3:36 pm

      It refers to the bride. I forgot to mention that.

    • Vinod permalink
      June 21, 2009 3:38 pm

      I think the more controversial phrase is ‘having the maid’. Wonder what allegorical meanings it had in Sanskrit, if any.

    • June 24, 2009 9:41 pm

      Could it be a translation error – translated as ‘maid’ instead of ‘maiden’? Without looking at the original text, it’s difficult to say.

      • rags permalink
        June 24, 2009 11:08 pm

        I thought the same thing too…. but then I thought maybe they referred to her as a maid because she has to do the household work…

        • June 25, 2009 1:25 am

          but then I thought maybe they referred to her as a maid because she has to do the household work…

          I guess that makes me a maid too. :)

  41. rags permalink
    June 21, 2009 4:34 pm

    I know it is the bride (it is a marriage ceremony after all). I was wondering in what context she was referred to as a ‘maid’.
    To answer your other question, in those days (and even now) women were considered the property of men (father’s and then husband’s) . Maybe someone fluent in Sanskrit could give us a different perspective.

    • Vinod permalink
      June 21, 2009 7:08 pm

      I too got the property impression of women as I read through the translation of the other slokas used. Many slokas indicate the husband expressing his ‘possession’ of the woman. There are slokas where the father refers to the woman as if she were a possession that brought the blessings of the ancestors.

      Anyway, all in all, I wasn’t drawn towards the general undertones of these slokas.

  42. vasudev permalink
    June 23, 2009 10:25 pm

    nita…my comment to vinod on 123…4…5…6 got stuck-up in your attic. please rescue. thnx.

  43. July 3, 2009 10:41 pm

    True… Hindu Dwija [twice born] is some what similar to BORN AGAIN concept in Christianity.

    Once upon a time “thread ceremony” associated with becoming a DWIJA [ twice born ] was for every one who belong to three castes [Brahmana, Kshtriya and Vaishya]

    The thread is the connection between the material world and spiritual world and belief is that through that ceremony a youngster step into spiritual pursuit.

    A youngster also chants “Gayatri Mantra” from the day he or she accepts the thread.

    Who is a Dwija (Twice Born)? …..A Brahmin.
    Who is a Brahmin?…. He or she who knows Brahman.
    What is Brahman?…That which is infinite…God

    So in a nutshell,

    HE WHO KNOWS GOD IS A TWICE BORN
    or
    HE WHO IS THE TWICE BORN WILL AUTOMATICALLY WILL REALIZE GOD.

    According to Hinduism, unless there is an absolute change in consciousness and absolute self purification, nobody can achieve God_realization.

    Without complete change of consciousness, it is impossible to realize God and vice versa.

    So, it is to be assumed that omnipresent Jesus Christ was referring to a complete change of consciousness rather than any ritualistic and symbolic gestures, when he said …..”Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again”. (St. John 3_7).

    He who is born-again, is a Christian as well as a Brahmin.

    • vasudev permalink
      July 3, 2009 11:09 pm

      why this comparison with abrahamic faiths? both are poles apart!

  44. July 16, 2009 10:52 am

    Prophet Muhammad asked Muslims to respect any religion in which the word of God is mentioned, many phrases in Rig Veda, Bhagvat Gita and Upanishads contain the concept and truth about formless, Omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent Almighty (Allah) God. Islam is a Monotheistic religion so is Gyanshriya shaka of Hinduism
    Prophet Muhammad asked Muslims to go India for gaining worldly knowledge from Hindus and spread Islam to them peacefully.
    Islam and India are undivided and true Hinduism is against Idol worship and similar to Islam

    • illyas permalink
      September 23, 2009 2:31 pm

      This discussion is mental mastrubution, in another 50 years there wont be any Hindus left in India, all will become Muslims.

  45. vasudev permalink
    July 16, 2009 11:51 am

    [true Hinduism is against Idol worship and similar to Islam]

    omg! when did this happen? till last night hinduism was ok and this morning it seems to be similar to islam and against idol worship! talk of modern age speed!

  46. Carolyn permalink
    July 5, 2012 10:25 am

    But, in Hinduism, girls have their own coming-of-age ceremonies too(when they get their period).

    • July 5, 2012 10:42 am

      I am a Hindu Brahmin and in our family all the relevant ceremonies are conducted. However, I am a Maharashtrian and cannot speak of other states and cultures. A lot of foreigners assume that India is a homogeneous land, but in actuality it is far more diverse than Europe. This post will help you understand India better:
      http://nitawriter.wordpress.com/2006/10/22/multi-cultural-multi-racial-india/
      Not only are we ethnically different, we have more languages than Europe and significantly all these languages have different scripts. Our customs are different. Even Hinduism is interpreted differently by the different cultures, and different deities are given prominence. The calender for the auspicious days differs and so do the dates of new year and some other important festivals. The way we celebrate the festivals in different parts of India is also different.
      When it comes to coming of age ceremonies for girls, in the majority of states this is not so. An odd state might do it, but it is more to do with their culture rather than Hinduism itself.

      • Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
        July 5, 2012 5:33 pm

        @Carolyn: If you google “Hindu coming of age ceremony for girls” you will find a large number of sites giving information for different communities, regions, caste groups etc. Always bearing in mind Nita’s caution about the diversity of customs, rituals and practices, you can find some useful information here.

        I would be suspicious of any site that claims, explicitly or implicitly, to speak for “all India” or “all hindus”. Some of the sites are maintained by second- or third-generation, orthodox, expatriate communities. I would take these to be authentic descriptions of the traditions of those particular communities.

        In India today, partly because of cultural homogenisation trends at work and partly because of examples set by popular movies and TV shows catering to the least common denominators of culture, there is a lot of dilution of traditions happening, being replaced by loud and garish rituals. However, with some effort you can always find people who are well-informed about the various customs and their underlying meaning. This includes enlightened priests.

  47. vasudev permalink
    June 24, 2009 8:19 pm

    nice cartoons, well depicted. thanks

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