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Sacrifice and Devotion in the Indian Tradition: A Response to the NYT Article

17 Oct

This post is a response to the NYT article in the Sunday, October 17 paper. The article can be found in an online slideshow form here.

What I loved about this article was it’s focus on devotion. At first it starts out explaining that the holiday is a celebration of devotion to one’s husband (with an all day fast), but as you go through the 5 different profiles, which span generations, neighborhoods, and family histories, you find that the focus is on a very different kind of devotion. Instead of the journey of fasting being about a woman’s gratefulness to her husband (whose language, if not theme, is at least problematic), in almost every profile the couple fasts TOGETHER because as Pradeep Kashyap says of his marriage to Reena,”I’ve always thought of ours as an equal relationship, so I chose to fast with her, and we’ve done it together every year.”

What I love about this SO MUCH isn’t JUST that it puts the focus on equality and giving to one ANOTHER (in one situation the man is a doctor and though he used to fast with her, she insisted he stop doing so so that he doesn’t compromise his patients safety). And by all means, I’m not saying that this isn’t how EVERY Indian celebration of this holiday and others it is or should be. My point, and my appreciation for the article, is the way in which the media (and the populous) generally highlights the inequalities, the wrongs, and the “weirdness” of other traditions.

I thought this was a wonderful article which (and I think unintentionally, though no less wonderfully) highlights that even the most “traditional” of families, marriages, and religious unions are still places where equality exists.