Shobana P. Mathews
Ritualisation of Body of Widows in Moth Eaten Howdah of Tusker
In any cultural space today, if we have a closer look at the how it functions, what holds people of the culture together, and what is the basis of their subjectivity and objectivity, there is only one answer that anyone could find-religion. Be it a small community in a village, or an entire country, religion is that factor that makes and breaks a nation. Religion has divided gender roles, castes, has monitored growth and learning of an individual, and has taken care of designing an ideal lifestyle that men and women should follow. These rules of the “ideal lifestyle” is different for men, where they have an upper hand on women, and women follow these rules, which at one point had become normalcy and ideal, to fuel and preserve the hegemonic social structure in a cultural space.
Woman, a term that stands as a definition for the gender roles and status of people who are biologically female, have been the ones who were “Othered” throughout the history. For example, in her novel, Abhiyatri, Nirupama Borgohain shed light on how the protagonist, Chandrapriya, and her sister, Rameswari, were forbidden from going to school, since they belonged to a Brahmin family, and were crossing flooded fields to reach their school to study to become a doctor one day against the norms and wishes of the society, where only a boy gets to go for higher studies, and gets to become a doctor, whereas the women are educated for the sake of better groom for their marriage. Here, these two women are burdened by their gender roles, by the social stereotypes, by their caste, and by their age. Here, Chandrapiya and Rameswari had to perform the role of their gender, caste, age, and society, where their neighbours and “well-wishers” affected their lives, in other words, designed their lives step by step.
When it comes to the people who belong to the high caste in...