Tuesday, January 30, 2007

In the name of God...

My ex colleague R called me a little distressed the other day. She needed a huge amount of money urgently. She had applied for a personal loan which was approved and the bank was to give her the cheque next month. But R needed the money right then. I obliged by chipping in. The money was for a temple renovation work her Dad was undertaking in Kerala. I wondered why her Dad should go through so much expense when they were not well off, but refrained from commenting on the same. R returned the money today. She explained that her Dad had made promises to rebuild the temple and she and her sister had to support the expenditure with their meagre salary or incur the wrath of the devi. She wasn’t too happy about the situation but had accepted the same as any opposition would make her father go into emotional blackmail mode.

Another colleague and her four sisters, all techies would send money every month to their father in Kerala for various poojas and other religious activities that he undertook. They did it reluctantly because if they didn’t, then their father would borrow and creditors would soon come calling these girls for money.

These are not just two instances but among the many I have heard from my mallu colleagues. What is remarkable about these cases are that most of these girls are from “girls only” families and their fathers are usually unemployed, retired, small farmers or in low paid jobs. As soon as the daughters are employed they start flaunting their money and justifying the expense on religious grounds by sponsoring various festivals and poojas at their local temples.

As a non Hindu I really cannot comment on any of this as I do not know much about the religious obligations of Hindus, but from the girls own account these are unnecessary expenditure and they have no choice but to acquiesce till they are married and can hence say “No”!

This post has nothing to do with religion. Such exploitation happens in other avatars in Christian families too. Exploitation of girls happens irrespective of caste creed or religion.

19 comments:

Abhishek said...

Well... what can you say..or do?
It is sad...
I havent noticed this phenomenon in the north ..

Abhishek said...

Its very sad...

God, I think would be happier if the hard earned money contributed to own's happiness... rather than being added to old men's fancies...

Jay Sun said...

So very true...when you look at it...in a lot of families...guilt plays a major role...and so many times it is easier to just give in to a parent's demand...rather than question it and in questioning it, bring a lot of other issues into the light...

Ajith said...

who said girls are the only ones who are asked to donate.. ? The problem is that, once somehow ur salary information find its way out, ppl start looking u as a millionaire.. In reality we may be getting much less after facoring in the CTC, tax cuts etc..And ppl there in kerala fail to recognize the living expenses here.. When I say I'm paying 4000 as rent in b'lore , they start thinking that I'm staying in a posh house..

I myself have had all kinds of demands starting from politicians to LIC agents, indirectly routed through my parents....But, saying a firm 'NO' to someone unabashedly is a skill that I've learned from my college life at REC.. That has saved me to some extent.

silverine said...

Abhishek: Frankly how many people really realise that offerings are no substitute for a righteous life!

jay sun:So true!!!

ajith: Didn't know that guys too have to go through it as I have heard only the stories from my female colleagues. Saying a firm "no" is an art in itself :)

abhishek said...

Nothing of this sort forms a part of any prescribed Hindu obligations. That's a very refreshing characteristic of Hindu tradition in that whatever you do should come from the heart. So you are justified in being annoyed at such superstitions. God is not angry; he is ever understanding and generous. Particularly to people who struggle to make ends meet. It is man's failings and superstitions that causes him to dig himself into holes, not the lack of God's presence. God only helps those who help themselves first.

Anonymous said...

Fuming fuming...

In South Asia, it is a shameful norm that parents/children/relations/public(!) don't think twice about taking advantage of others hard earned money. This is similar to me of a so called son-in-law taking dowry, or in laws trying to live off the girls family etc. It just sad and despicable. Of course, we should always look after our parents well. But people need to learn to respect others hard work and to have some self-respect.

In today's age, poojas seem more like business. Temples have become a business in Toronto, and every temple has some sort of "Special" poojas every week. I wonder how much evil demons the devil can send for us to need such expensive protection by the priests:-)
-kajan

Alexis said...

It is their in every religion. In my place,it is the nurses instead of IT professionals. Our place has a good hospital which has a very reputed nursing school. So most of the girls after completing 10th or 10+2 will join the nursing school. And after passing the course and working in the hospital for about a year, they are off to the Middle East, England, Ireland, Germany, Europe and so on. They send almost all the money they earn back home so that the family could send the remaining sisters also to the nursing school and soon all these sisters (sometimes as high as 7 or 8 from a family)will be send their money home.

Instead of investing the money profitably or at least saving it, their parents and brothers will first rebuild their houses, buy vehicles, and so on. None of them will go for work, nor work in their land. The brothers won't finish college. So they basically live on their sisters'/daughters' earnings.

Also the amount of money they spend on improving their social status like sponsoring festivals, making huge donations to political parties is enormous.

I think the young generation have a responsibility to look after their parents. But they should know how to save some money for themselves. So it is up to the people who work hard to make money to decide how to spend it. And I think it is high time they started saving at least a portion of their income.

silverine said...

abhishek: I totally agree with you that "It is a man's failings and superstitions that causes him to dig himself into holes, not the lack of God's presence" Wish people would do away with the elaborate rituals in religions and follow it for what it is, a direction to lead a better life.

Kajan: It is the same in Churches. Vailankanni and Infant Jesus Church here in Blr are prime examples. Their coffers are groaning with money and the priests surrounded by a coterie of people who control this money. It is a total mess!!!

Alexis: I so know what you are talking about as I have seen this in my own relations circle too. The girls toiling away while the parents throw their money around. So many of these working youth get so little to save at the end of the day!

mathew said...

Our penchant for getting into good books of god is strange..Giving gold and money as if God's coffers are empty..ridiculous at times..

Reminds of me something that I heard somewhere.."No one wants to die even if its for going to heaven"..Maybe for the same reason its some kind of kickbacks being paid to god for staying on good earth for a few more years..

naan said...

Well I really can't relate or comment on the incident described in the post because that's the first time I am hearing anything like that.

However slightly off-topic but equally relevant would be the tussle between Jacobites and Orthodox communities and the money thats being pumped in to keep the tussle going.

Ultimately all the pirivu thats been collected at churches ends up in the court rooms i guess !!

flaashgordon said...

Hmm.this was a good discussion. The issues mentioned by Alexis, Kajan etc are very relevant.Here's a slightly different story right in Bangalore. Our flat in Bangalore is in a road off Sarjapur road which is in a pathetic condition. This falls under Bellandur panchayat's jurisdiction..Despite many pleas by all residents , the road is still same. The panchayat's condition for repairing the road is that each of the flat owners pay Rs 3000/- to their temple fund !!!!! People are so desparate, they're almost willing for that now. Howzaatt? Daylight robbery in the name of a temple! It happens only in India, eh?

Di said...

arre there are no obligations....in my family they do a lot of tiny things at temples..which i think are unecessary but not too bad..like Di got a job(90% of my class did..still) let us do this small pooja..or things like that..But really it gets a little worrisome wen people take it to extremes :(

Neihal said...

there is no religion that makes such obligations.....its as you say more abt flaunting the money rather than being religious

Anonymous said...

Very politically correct, thank you.

Anonymous said...

This is a problem well made fun of in mallu movies..like Jagati character in Kireedom and so many other movies..unfortunately the sloth or parasite males who see this laugh and do not realise they are laughing at themselves.In the US there are lot of mallu nurses and stay at home hubbies..you ask teh hubbies what they are doing they will evade teh question with some "business".But here its ok as the hubbies I feel are more reponsible and take care of traditional female household chores.My mate an European tells me that in Europe its not so "traditional" and males sometimes manage the households..but I think this parasite-sloth male phenomenon is mainly Indian.me thiks this has to do with the climate ;-) warm cozy afternoon siesta nap kinda climate..how I miss it ;-)
displaced_mallu

Jeseem said...

hey, guys bear the brunt more than girls do. exploitation of guys :(

it is also a case of young people not attempting to imbibe their new learnt values, home. you just can't work in most advanced technologies, be exposed to the most diverse environment and still not try not to change your folks @home. of course nothing comes without pain.

Synapse said...

reminds me of a practice prevalent in pre rennaissance europe. The practice of buying pardons for one's sins. Pardons available for a price for everything fron adultery to murder!
the phenomenon u mention is seen all over kerala. it might be because parents want to extract maximum money from their daughter before she gets married.
In kerala having a big house n throwing money around is a symbol of having arrived.
however i do agree that aged parents neednt hesitate to ask their kids for any of their genuine needs.

silverine said...

mathew: I think offerings are a sort of sacrifice which denotes love beyond material wealth, but it has become a mindless ritual now!

naan: Very true, even I have heard of these spats, especially the very public and very ugly Orhtodox-Jacobite wars!

flaash: Ingenious! This happens in a lot of places in Bangalore!! It is nothing but money making in the guise of temple building.

Di: Well I am not talking of the small offerings but the heavy expenditure that are incurred in the name of religion!

neihal: Flaunting money it is indeed!!

Anon : ?

displaced: The parasite-sloth male phenomenon is due to the women tolerating these men and not due to weather :)

Jeseem: I have noticed this too. People working in hi tech companies who become cave men/women once they are back home!

synapse: The "showing off attitude" is an important observation... something I had written about in the past (What ails us) and for which I got a lot of flak...but it is very much a part of us :) I am disturbed by Ajith's comment that even political parties are coming to the house for collection once the son/daughter of the house is employed.