Monday, June 15, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Bagariya tribal women in the village of Badi Sadri, Rajasthan, have to prove they have been faithful to their husbands by dipping their hands in boiling oil for five seconds. It's a weird test: If you are chaste, your hands will come out unscathed from the bowl of boiling oil; if you suffer burns, you've been cheating on your husband.
What's worse, it's an annual ritual. Every year, women in a tribal village in Rajasthan, western India, face this trial by fire - to prove their good character during the previous year.
Every year, when the country celebrates the victory of good over evil by burning effigies of the demon king Ravana and his brothers, men in this village, in wanton disregard of human life, subject women to this barbaric test.
This Dushehra, too, at least 20 women of the Bagariya tribe, in Badi Sadri village in Udaipur District, were forced to take this test. Fortunately, none of them got burned.
The men broke into gay folk songs and cooked a meal for the tribe.
On the morning of this festival, a wood fire was raised to boil mustard oil in 14 bowls outside a temple in the village. The women were then asked to immerse their hands one by one into the liquid, and to keep them submerged for five seconds.
When they remove their hands, they are checked for burns. Those who suffer burns, have been immoral in the past year. The gravity of the burns dictates the degree of infidelity.
"Our men mostly stay out during the nights for livelihood. We sustain on crime: thefts, loot. Therefore, it's quite likely women will fall for the other guy," Durgesh Bagariya, the tribe's head, defends this ritual. Yet he offers no reason for this test. Nor does he answer why men aren't subjected to the same test.
Such tests are commonplace in the tribal areas of Udaipur and adjoining districts.
A few years ago, a theft was reported. Instead of summoning the police, the village heads decided to subject all the men to a test to identify the thief. They boiled oil and made the men immerse their hands.
Three were singed, and the villagers concluded them to be the thieves. The local police also accepted this theory, and the trio were arrested without any further investigation.
But that was once-off incident. In Badi Sadri, it happens every year - ironically, on the day when the country burns the evil.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
A Bollywood actress caught saying
so-and-so is amazing as a director. He can make even a black African look pretty”.
A Bollywood actor saying:
(I knew) it was time to leave Shanghai and Hong Kong after six weeks of stunt training and go home when his eyes started “turning into little slits like the Chinese”.
As the BBC critic of Indian origin remarks, these are not unsurprising remarks. As most Indians know, we make these remarks all the time and either don’t realize these are offensive, or just don’t care. Why, we have names for such obscenities. We call our north-eastern country-men(and women), or just any person with mongoloid features “chinky”. We call any white-skinned person “firangi”. Any person of African origin is still called a “negro”, decades after this term has been replaced by “africans” or “african americans” in politer societies.
The fact is that we Indians have more ways to divide and discriminate humans than any society in the world, but few Indians would admit to this. We discriminate by race,skin color,caste, religion, regionality(”madrasis”) … if there are any other ways to divide people that I can’t remember now, we probably do that too.
However, nobody in India has the guts to address this problem. We let people openly advertise for “fair”, “brahmin” etc. brides and grooms in matrimonial listings in newspapers and online sites. There is still no government push for banning all temples from restricting who can enter by caste. There is no push to accommodate our north-eastern brothers and sisters into mainstream society. In fact, most of India would rather revel in “Gandhigiri” but blissfully ignore that Iron Sharmila , who has redefined Gandhian methods of struggle, even exists.