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Sthree Dharma
Advanced apologies to Mudy and others for the revolting topic to follow and for polluting this thread with something vile. Didn't know where else this could go. For a long time didn't want to post this. But then, after reading the news item HH put up on how the US helped their minion Jihadistan go Nuklear, as well as G Sen's article on British 'intelligence' loons meddling in India, I felt I really ought to show my appreciation and gratitude to the great western powers. Hence I am highlighting those wondrous aspects of western civilisation which are sadly not as general knowledge as they should be; and the heights whereof us lesser (heathen) mortals have never even strived to reach.

And if the Nandu Rajurikars of this world ever wander by again, we can refer them to this. After all, if they <i>will</i> blindly worship everything about "the west" and insist on following it in <i>everything</i>, then can remind them what they should not forget to worship and follow as well.

Contrast the following with India:

The glorious enlightened western practise of <b>Female Genital Mutilation</b> (FGM).
Article courtesy of Hateward itself, so Michael WitSSel is no doubt a foremost proponent of seeing the Californian school books include the following excerpt in the next editions.
(The Hateward article is - for a change - somewhat more honest than the usual garbage coming out of that centre. Even so, the writers carefully choose to change FGM to FGC - C for Cutting - <i>at the very start itself</i>. That way, they handily avoid its negative connotations when they thereafter discuss the western practise too. Goes to show how powerful language is in conditioning minds.
However, FGM - M for MUTILATION - is the <i>only</i> applicable term for what's described below, it hardly need be said.
Next to that, the whole reason for them to bring the matter of FGM up at all, is to drive home their own point which is on a rather different topic - something that does not concern this post.)
Some extra paras preceding the relevant bit are included because they give other insights.

(Intersex Surgery, Female Genital Cutting, and the Selective Condemnation of "Cultural Practices", by Nancy Ehrenreich with Mark Barr)
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><i>b. Western Medical Practice as Culture-Free</i>
By labeling African genital cutting a “cultural practice” but not applying the same label to North American intersex surgery, FGC opponents imply that medical treatment around intersex cutting is culturefree. 85 In so doing, they also imply that procedures deemed necessary by doctors in the United States cannot possibly constitute “cultural practices” or “rituals” of the sort that exist in Africa.86 This conclusion is consistent with common, hegemonic understandings of Western medicine as providing objective, apolitical, and accurate descriptions of physical processes and conditions.87 To the extent that scientific (in this case, medical) assessments of, and treatment protocols for, various human conditions are seen as merely descriptive of a biological reality, they are not seen as cultural, socially constructed, or contingent.88

This rhetorical association of Western medical knowledge with objective science as opposed to contingent culture ignores not only the cultural understandings behind intersex treatment protocols (to be discussed further below),89 but also <b>the history of female circumcision in the West</b>—as well as modern feminist critiques of medicine and of science more generally. 90 <b>As critics of mainstream anti-FGC discourse have pointed out, female circumcision was long used in Western societies, and its use was justified on grounds of medical necessity premised upon patriarchal assumptions about women.91 Clitoridectomy was performed in Great Britain until the 1860s, as well as in France and Germany. In this country, female circumcision began in the late 1860s and, despite the fact that the British medical establishment repudiated it in 1867, continued well into the twentieth century.92 The surgery was usually performed to address female “hysteria,” a diagnosis that was frequently applied to women who violated gender norms of the era. Behaviors “treated” with the surgery included masturbation, hypersexuality, melancholy, and nervousness, as well as “[l]esbianism and aversion to men.”93 Middle-class white women, the same demographic group agitating for women’s rights during this period, were the main recipients of clitoridectomies.94</b> Like current recipients of FGC on other continents, they often consented to these treatments, convinced that the surgeries were necessary to alleviate their depression or “cure” their “deviant” impulses.95 Other recipients of genital surgeries did not have that luxury, however. No option to refuse was given, for example, to the slave women and poor white immigrant women who were subjected to shocking “practice” surgeries—as many as thirty per woman— performed by the now-infamous Dr. Marion Sims to perfect the clitoridectomies and other gynecological techniques he would later use on privileged white women.96

Isabelle Gunning, discussing the important research of Ben Barker-Benfield, places these surgeries in historical context. <b>Following the Civil War, white men in the United States were concerned not only about “disorderly” women who posed a threat to the established patriarchal order by seeking to wear bloomers and speak in public, but also about immigrants who posed a threat to the “racial purity” of the United States.</b>

Thus, female circumcision practices arguably expressed social concerns of the dominant male elite about threats posed by both middle class women and lower class immigrant populations. Those concerns were addressed by controlling the sexual and reproductive behavior of both groups of women. <b>Moreover, these surgeries also might have helped to elevate the status of the field of gynecology, which arose as a specialty during this period.97</b> Barker-Benfield describes gynecological practice of the era as “characterized by flamboyant, drastic, risky and instant use of the knife.”98 These dramatic surgeries arguably enhanced the image of gynecological practitioners, presenting them as god-like transformers of the bodies— indeed, the very nature—of North American women.

<b>Thus, Western nations are not immune from patriarchal cultural practices that involve female genital cutting. Moreover, these historical accounts cannot be dismissed by arguing that the United States is simply more advanced than non-Western nations, having abandoned practices that those nations still employ.</b><!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->With that statement of "female circumcision was long used in Western societies, and its use was justified on grounds of medical necessity premised upon <b>patriarchal assumptions about women</b>", they are referring to christianism and derived mentality.

When the fictional Englishman Phileas Fogg was busy saving the fictional Indian Parsi Aouda from a fictional "Hindoooo Suttteeee", he forgot to save his mum from being mutilated by the W-European practise of FGM <!--emo&:o--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/ohmy.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='ohmy.gif' /><!--endemo--> Tsk, tsk: Fogg galavanting over the globe, playing hero elsewhere and neglecting the distressed damsels in his own land...
Somewhat related to the icky matter of the "patriarchy in western societies" mentioned in the previous post. Psychologist gives us a rundown on WASPy male mindset in that century. For those that take psychology seriously, the excerpt here might offer an explanation for the phenomenon related in the previous post.

As much as I loathe psychology in general (except for occasionally finding it a source of unexpected amusement on seeing how pathetically it "diagnoses" all that's really straightforward), I do not want to deprive Americans the right to diagnose their own WASPies in this way. I mean, although their methods of psychology and psycho-analysis are a dismal failure when applied to Hindus and Hinduism, who is to say that it might not be perfectly applicable to WASPies?
(Back when they were both the observers and observees, WASPies appear to have been among the originals around whom the field of psychology was designed anyway - in the English-speaking world, I mean... Therefore, although the shoe made for them certainly doesn't fit us, it may well fit them...) Am being a bit sarcastic here, but I'll let it stand. Of course I do not agree that such an evaluation of the western male - as follows below - applies universally to all American males of the 19th century. At least, I can't believe such a thing. I personally know of some exceptions in this century and have fortunately never met any resembling a descendent of the "rule" discussed below. But then, the "rule" speaks of <i>WASPy</i> America, so it may still hold for those that fit the bill...

WASP = "white anglo-saxon protestant"

The following article is a critique of a male(?) feminist's psych evaluation of American (WASPy) men of the 19th century. We can dismiss the critique itself (if only in imitation of Wendy and her Spawn dismissing our protestations against their defamation of Hindus and Hinduism). Hence, am only pasting the part that summarises the work being critiqued.

Oh and one more thing: the following illustrates a comparatively benign application of the western field of "psychology". The malignant form was reserved for Hindus.

<b>Review: Man Amuck</b> by Anita Clair Fellman; Michael Fellman, Reviewed Work(s): <i>The Horrors of the Half-Known Life: Male Attitudes Toward Women and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century American.</i> by G. J. Barker-Benfield, Reviews in American History, Vol. 4, No. 4. (Dec., 1976), pp. 558-564.
(<i>Reviews in American History</i> is currently published by The Johns Hopkins University Press.)
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->With Barker-Benfield's introductory quotation from R. D. Laing that every aspect of man's being "is related to every other aspect" (p. xiii), one might have assumed that he would be dealing with the reciprocal relationship between the nineteenth-century American <b>WASP</b> male psyche and its setting, that he would show the ways in which the setting helped form that psyche and in which the psychological needs of individuals led to attempts to shape the human environment.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd--><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The universal male ambivalence toward women was sharpened and heightened, Barker-Benfield argues, in democratic America, where the anxieties generated by extreme competitiveness and drive for success between males deprived of intense ties with their fathers, made men fearful of the restrictiveness of women and family life, and endlessly insistent upon the necessity of sexual demarcation. In the absence of other accepted hierarchies (except race) "the sexual distinction was the only one guaranteed a man" (p. 40). In their atomization, American men could make no real ties with women, so caught up were they in the engrossing combat with their brothers that consumed all their carefully marshaled but nevertheless always insufficient energies. Because democratic societies robbed fathers of any significant authority, nineteenth-century American males never had to rebel against their fathers and so remained perpetual adolescents, responding to women only as mothers.

No option other than marriage existed for American women, and marriage meant confinement to the home, about which American men were both pious and distrustful. Once there, the carefree American girl disciplined herself to absorb the domestic and parental responsibilities ignored by the striving husband, becoming the worn-out creature that Tocqueville described. The irony was that she was trained to choose voluntarily a situation in which she was profoundly unfree. This "willing resignation" of women into "a kind of life demanded of them by another group" (p. 44) is indicative to Barker-Benfield of the ways in which nineteenth-century American women gave themselves up to other male fantasies, desires, and definitions. Such an assumption enables the author to draw conclusions about women's lives and feelings solely from the framework of the male psyches that he attempts to reconstruct.

In their passion for autonomy, American males feared and resented their origins in the female body. Even while they were creating a separate sphere for women and a role for them as men's comforters and supporters, they were beset with a guilty fear of their dependence upon women; their "need for total autonomy was an impassioned reaction to that fear of total dependence" (p. 215). Further troubling them was the awareness that even as women were ostensibly giving of themselves, they were, in fact, feeding off of men, sucking them dry of money, time, energy, will, and semen. Women were "insatiable consumers" of male resources, and consequently men were in danger of being depleted of their manhood and of becoming "unmanly, passive, and dependent, like women" (p. 305).

In explaining how nineteenth-century American males worked out their position vis-a-vis women, Barker-Benfield ties in these preoccupations to two broader currents in Western thought: vitalist theories of limited human energy and the dualist division of mindbody. Men, who because of their gender were responsible for the progress and activity of human society, had only a finite degree of energy for the tasks they were compelled to face if they were to succeed. Consequently they could not let themselves be drained by the demands of women. It was essential to husband their resources rather than to spend them on women. It followed that nineteenth-century American males were often ambivalent, even basically negative about heterosexual activity, a signal which their womenfolk picked up and transposed into reluctance to bear children. This spermatic economy, as Barker-Benfield calls it, was linked to the mindbody dualism by "proto-sublimation." If the body's powers were directed toward one organ, then they would be withdrawn from the rest of the body. The rightful master of the body was the mind, which could either expend itself in monitoring a dissipated body or could pursue its "own further activities, the pursuit of success" (p. 178). The body was the passive female principle, and the mind, the active male. By disciplining themselves to direct energies to the combative, conquering mind (proto-sublimation), men could thereby escape women and ensure success.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Make of it what you will. Am entirely entertained. (By the psychology.)
<b>Watch girls Mallakhamb</b>.
<b>Every father has to get his daughter married: HC</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Mumbai, February 26: The Bombay High Court has held that every father is under obligation to maintain his daughter and get her married.

“The obligation to maintain the daughter and get her married arises from the very existence of the relationship,” the court held.

Under the Hindu Law, a daughter is entitled to be maintained out of the estate of the father even after death of the father, Justice C L Pangarkar of the Nagpur bench of the High Court has said.

The court was hearing an application filed by one Kusum Rewatkar (58) of Wardha district in 2006, for recovering the amount she spent on the marriage of her three daughters.

Misleading heading
where else to post...?

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Braveheart teen tames molester</b>

KOLKATA: Shafiqul Sheikh preyed on unsuspecting women after dusk. He used the cover of darkness or a crowd to pounce on victims, stunning them momentarily. Before they knew what had happened, he would have molested them and vanished.

On Sunday, though, his luck ran out. For, he made advances at a girl who was unlike all the women he'd preyed on. Sanjana Acharya, a Class XII student of Kendriya Vidyalaya, was just as fearless as her father, an ex-brigadier. She caught Shafiqul by the collar and held him tight till police arrived.

The incident happened around 8.20 pm at Behala's busy No 14 bus terminus. Sanjana and mother Ratna were out shopping. They had just passed a crowd gathered around a Sreeleathers outlet when a scruffy man groped her.

Taken aback for just an instant, Sanjana reacted with ferocity. She let out a scream and lunged at the man. Realizing that she was unlike his other targets, Shafiqul attempted a quick getaway. He swerved to the left to avoid the girl's grasp and melt into the crowd beyond.

But he never made it. Before he could escape, Sanjana had him by the collar. "He was desperately trying to break free, but she just wouldn't let go," recalled her mother.

Businessman Indranil Roychowdhury, who was passing by, heard a girl scream and turned around to spot the unequal struggle. "A teenaged girl was trying to hold a man in his mid-30s. I thought he'd snatched a purse and rushed to her aid. It was only later that I learnt he had been up to much worse."

Roychowdhury first helped Sanjana pin the man down and then dialled the police. The cops arrived in minutes and bundled the accused into a vehicle.

"The police were really prompt in taking action. After hearing of the incident, they took him to the police station and put him behind bars," Sanjana said. On interrogation, Shafiqul revealed he hailed from Murshidabad and had been living in Behala's Dhalipara.

"we've reared our kids to take care of themselves. Today, Sanjana gave a good account of herself," said a proud Ratna.

The Marriage Bargain, Women and Dowries in European History. By Marion A. Kaplan.


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Here are some excerpts from a wonderfully, enlightening book, The Marriage Bargain, Women and Dowries in European History.

"In France, the dowry was almost a universal institution, even among servants, laborers and tenant farmers, until the interwar era (1918-1939). Only the poorest urban industrial workers had no dowries, and as a result many of them did not marry at all. "For the great majority of the bourgeoisie (middle class) marriage is the greatest financial operation of their lives."  Wrote an observer of the French scene in 1927.

"What was the status of the daughter whose birth ' filled a father's heart with fear' (Dante, Renaissance poet, 1265-1321 C. E. because of the large dowry which her marriage would require?"<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Which explains the phenomenon of 80% of christians in Kerala being into dowry:
Viren posted earlier on Rajeev2004's blog entry, quoting this original from the Red Times of India
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Even in matter of dowry, Christians lead the tally with 80% families following it. Muslims tag along at 76%. Though less, Hindus too are yet to rid themselves of the social evil with 52% still under its grip.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Yeah, we're trying to get rid of evil christo social customs.
Dowry seems to be a very recent, European influenced custom. I was reading Arrian's Indica - here is how ancient Hindu women were married:

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->They marry <b>neither giving anything nor receiving anything</b>; such girls as are marriageable their fathers bring out and allow anyone who proves victorious in wrestling or boxing or running or shows pre-eminence in any other manly pursuit to choose among them. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

This is in-line with stories in our epics.

in mahAbhArata, there is particular mention of one type of marriage where money is negotiated and exchanged for the wedding. This is mentioned as one of the worst amongst the (8/5 types of) marriages along with other type where girl's relatives are to be defeated/ girl kidnapped.

however, even there the mention is that the money comes from the groom/groom's father to the bride's father.

By "dowery", if it means the gifts and other objects that are exchanged by the families to each other - then certainly such a custom has an ancient tradition. in mahAbhArata itself, yaduvanshI-s are mentioned to have given huge portions of gifts to pANDava-s, in subhadra's marriage with arjuna:

from haraNaparva section of Adiparva, the translation of KM Ganguly:

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Then Hrishikesa of great renown gave unto the party of the
bridegroom much wealth. And unto Subhadra he gave the
nuptial presents that had been given to her by her relatives.
Krishna gave unto the Pandavas a thousand cars of gold
furnished with rows of bells, and unto each of which were put four steeds
driven by well-trained charioteers. He also gave unto them ten thousand
cows belonging to the country of Mathura, and yielding much milk and all
of excellent colour. Well-pleased, Janardana also gave them a thousand
mares with gold harnesses and of colour white as the beams of the moon.
He also gave them a thousand mules, all well-trained and possessing the
speed of the wind, of white colour with black manes. And he of eyes like
lotus-petals also gave unto them a thousand damsels well-skilled in
assisting at bathing and at drinking, young in years and virgins all
before their first-season, well-attired and of excellent complexion, each
wearing a hundred pieces of gold around her neck, of skins perfectly
polished, decked with every ornament, and well-skilled in every kind of
personal service. Janardana also gave unto them hundreds of thousands of
draft horses from the country of the Valhikas as Subhadra's excellent
dower. That foremost one of Dasarha's race also gave unto Subhadra as her
peculium ten carrier-loads of first class gold possessing the splendour
of fire, some purified and some in a state of ore. And Rama having the
plough for his weapon and always loving bravery gave unto Arjuna, as a
nuptial present, a thousand elephants with secretions flowing in three
streams from the three parts of their bodies (the temple, the ears, and
the anus) each large as a mountain summit, irresistible in battle, decked
with coverlets and bells, well-adorned with other golden ornaments, and
equipped with excellent thrones on their backs. And that large wave of
wealth and gems that the Yadavas presented, together with the cloths and
blankets that represented its foam, and the elephants its alligators and
sharks, and the flags its floating weeds swelling into large proportions,
mingled with the Pandu ocean and filled it to the brim, to the great
sorrow of all foes. Yudhishthira accepted all those presents and
worshipped all those great warriors of the Vrishni and the Andhaka races.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-Bodhi+Jun 22 2008, 08:54 AM-->QUOTE(Bodhi @ Jun 22 2008, 08:54 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->in mahAbhArata itself, yaduvanshI-s are mentioned to have given huge portions of gifts to pANDava-s, in subhadra's marriage with arjuna:
[right][snapback]83174[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Major royalty like Krishna/Balarama (or the Pandavas) could do all that. But can't imagine others matching it: 10,000 cows, 100,000 horses, 1,000 elephants, alligators and sharks too, not to forget the gems and 1,000 ladies-in-waiting. (About that last: does this mean it is Arjuna's responsibility now to find 1,000 grooms to marry them? What kind of gift is that, more work match-making I'd say.)

I've always meant to ask/complain: why do Hindus (not just KM Ganguly, but some others too whose books I have in my possession) translate Hindu literature in the style that the bible has been translated into English? That is, phrases such as "he gave <i>unto</i> them" above. I wished they just translated it straightforwardly as "he gave them". For one thing, makes it easier for persons like myself to read and comprehend and not be alienated by the odd language.
we look at the "dowery" from a prejudiced perspective due to all the ongoing propoganda. consider it in this way which would come naturally to a Hindu:

kanyA is a ratna, a lakshamI, in the household of her father. in Arya marriage, father would find a suitable match and family, ideally equal or better in status than his own, and propose to 'donate' his kanyA to the groom. kanyA-dAna we call it, from the bride's father pov. This is also a donation.

now, every dAna is to be followed by a dakShiNA. by accepting the dAna, the receiver does a favour to the giver, and the giver therefore expresses his gratitude by giving a dakShiNA. (this topic is elaboratedly discussed in the episode of rAjA harishchandra, where after donating everything he had as dAna to the brAhmaNa, rAjA had nothing left to offer as dakShiNA, therefore he sells himself and his family as slaves to raise the money to offer as the daKShiNA)

so, the gifts and the wealth that accompanies the bride in a wedding is a dakShiNA, sent by the bride's father in gratitude for the groom/his family having accepted the kanyA-dAna.

look at it also from another perspective. This wealth being given to the girl and her husband is a way of equitably bequeathing one's wealth to both sons and daughters - to son after one's death, and to daughter at the time of her marriage.

now, there can be no excuse or justification for the excesses that could be seen in recent times in name of dowery - however that must clearly distinguished from the real purpose and good intention of such tradition. A greedy brothers/parents of the kanyA not giving enough wealth to her/her husband are also guilty - just like greedy parents of the groom lusting after such exchange.
Husky: now, abt KM Ganguly's translation. At the time he translated mahAbhArata over a century ago, there was no English translation available before. Being a product of his time, he used a style that was prevalent in the late 1800s. Not only that, he also had the notions propogated by Max Muller etc which appear in his translations at times - which are by now thoroughly debunked. And dispite this, his effort and contribution can not be negated.

For a better and a modern translation along with a thorough Hindu understanding of the context, one may use Geeta Press Gorakhpur version of mahAbhArata (which comes in 6 massive volumes).
The "dowry" phenomenon as practiced in modern times is a later custom primarily spread during British rule, mainly among upper classes, even today there are many castes that do not have this practice, a good book on this is:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Dowry Murder
The Imperial Origins of a Cultural Crime Veena Talwar Oldenburg

The Hindu custom of dowry has long been blamed for the murder of wives and female infants in India. In this highly provocative book, Veena Oldenburg argues that these killings are neither about dowry nor reflective of an Indian culture or caste system that encourages violence against women. Rather, such killings can be traced directly to the influences of the British colonial era. In the precolonial period, dowry was an institution managed by women, for women, to enable them to establish their status and have recourse in an emergency. As a consequence of the massive economic and societal upheaval brought on by British rule, women's entitlements to the precious resources obtained from land were erased and their control of the system diminished, ultimately resulting in a devaluing of their very lives. Taking us on a journey into the colonial Punjab, Veena Oldenburg skillfully follows the paper trail left by British bureaucrats to indict them for interpreting these crimes against women as the inherent defects of Hindu caste culture. The British, Oldenburg claims, publicized their "civilizing mission" and blamed the caste system in order to cover up the devastation their own agrarian policies had wrought on the Indian countryside. A forceful demystification of contemporary bride burning concludes this remarkably original book. Deploying her own experiences and memories and her research at a women's shelter with "dowry cases" for almost a year in the mid-eighties, the author looks at the contemporary violence against wives and daughters-in-law in modern India. Oldenburg seamlessly weaves the contemporary with the historical, the personal with the political, and strips the layers of exoticism off an ancient practice to show how an invaluable safety net was twisted into a deadly noose. She brings us startlingly close to the worsening treatment of modern Indian women as she challenges us to rethink basic assumptions about women's human and economic rights. Combining rigorous research with impassioned analysis and a nuanced treatment of a complex, deeply controversial subject, this book critiques colonialism while holding a mirror to gender discrimination in modern India.

Another evil known as female feotocide is widely practiced but from what I know the Dharma Shastras consider abortion a sin, so the one's doing this don't have any justification from "scriptures".
absolutely. does not matter if the foetus is male or female, abortion is considered as heinous a sin equal in status only to bramha-ghAta.
From Deccan Chronicle, 22 June 2008, Sunday Chronicle section....

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Bindi yatra </b>

The bindi, which is symbolic of an Indian woman, holds a special place in the hearts of the people. It has also been the theme of a variety of songs, which reflect the moods and traditions of Indians. The popular song, rendered beautifully by Lata Mangeshkar, Bindiya chamkegi, chudi khankegi, has been very popular. Meri bindiya, teri nindiya — a popular song of the 90s further strengthens the belief that women in India look more beautiful with the little dot on their foreheads. It is a seductive tool that is reflected in many Bollywood songs. Who can forget the evergreen song Teri bindiya re from the evergreen movie Abhimaan?

Most Indian families make their children aware of the immense "strength" the bindi has and its auspiciousness. Women, all over, agree to shoulder this responsibility of carrying on the auspicious tradition. Indians take pride in their culture and are always eager to explain its significance to anyone who shows interest.

But symbolic of love and unity in a marriage, the bindi too, like any other object of reverence in the Hindu culture, has its share of stringent ideologies attached to it. It is common observation that in Indian customs, widows do not wear the pottu, or bindi. It is an unspoken law, which invites ostracisation and wrath of the people if broken. Wearing it after the death of a kin is perceived as insensitive and unholy by many. According to Ed Vishwanathan, author of the book, Am I a Hindu?, "In earlier times, people prayed to God, first thing in the morning after their ablutions. After the puja, a dot was marked on the forehead. A mark just above the place where the two eyebrows met. This is believed to be the seat of memory or thinking and people marked this place. This was primarily for retaining God in the memory. As people get on with their daily chores, the divine is not retained in active memory and many times man indulges in worldly pleasures. The pottu was meant to help men in those times. An act believed to help lead an honest life without driven by greed. This seat of memory, the bindu was decorated with a dot – the bindi. As everyone marked their foreheads, it acted well as a reminder. When people went out, they saw other people with marks and thus it helped them lead a humble and modest life."

For most people today, it is more of a matter of "accessorising" than anything else. It doesn’t matter if it has many colours or if it is ornamental. It is more about a piece of ornament, used exclusively to enhance beauty. It is like a tattoo, which sticks to the forehead and if it falls off, it hardly ever gets another thought.

But, little is it realised that, this insignificant mark, was once significant, so much so, that it had a symbolic meaning.

<b>The Symbolism:</b>

The vibhuti is the sacred ash, which is got by the performance of a homa. After the offerings are made, the fire embraces all the earthly objects, it burns brightly reducing everything to ash. This ash is applied on the forehead to remind oneself of not just God, but also of the transience of man, the impermanence of everything and that after life man becomes one with God.

It also symbolises that the big, small and the mighty all reduce to ash and become one with the Divine. Vibhuti is also believed to absorb excess moisture from the body. Even today, in many households, it is applied on the scalp of babies after their bath so that the young ones don’t catch a cold.

The sandalwood paste is popularly known for its fine fragrance. Also known as chandan, it is used especially by the worshippers of Vishnu. Sandalwood paste is considered to be very pure and therefore it is offered to God (signifying purity of God) and then applied. It was used by the Brahmanas. This paste is known to have cooling effect on the body and is applied on the forehead to cool the seat of memory which can heat up because of concentration.

This seat of memory is also called the Agya Chakra. It is also called the third eye. Today chandan/chandanam is used in many parts of Kerala perhaps because it helps them withstand the heat in that region.

The vermillion is used very widely. Women apply it on skin to make it glow and is also used to heal cuts and wounds. Vermillion is also a good insect repellent and so is also used in preserving old manuscripts too. Vermillion is made by adding lime/alum to turmeric.

Turmeric which is yellow then, turns red and so, becomes vermillion. Initially, it was used by men and women, but over the years, women continued to use it. Kumkum or Vermillion is associated with prosperity and is applied by older women on younger women on special occasions and during the festive season of Navratri and Sankranti.

In many households in Southern India, haldi-kumkum is offered to women who visit the house. It is a mark of respect and prayer to prosper. It is however not offered to widows.

It is believed that the colour of the kumkum comes from the colour of the blood. Animal sacrifice was rampant and the blood of the sacrifice was applied on Goddess Kali and also on all the devotees.

Thankfully, this has given way to kumkum. Traditionally it was made at home. Today, this has given way to the sophisticated sticker bindi. <b>The sticker bindi came to existence about 20 years ago and has gone through the whole process of evolution. But, what is interesting is that the kumkum, which costs a few rupees has now taken the form of the bindi, which boasts of even a small diamond on it and costs a lot.</b>

That is quite a transformation to talk about. It comes in layers, shapes and colours and some of them look extremely sophisticated. There is a bindi for every mood, every season and every occasion available these days.

So, what does this mean to "today’s woman"? In today’s world, expecting the younger lot to learn about the significance is "Herculean".

Perhaps, a better option would be to educate them and make them wear the bindi with pride. For most people it is exotic, for some, it is religious, for some others, it is ethnic or traditional but somehow, over the years, the bindi has been gradually getting ignored by masses.

<b>It is the symbol of being Indian.</b> The women of India should take pride in the fact that they are carrying on a tradition that was probably started by the Aryans. <b>By wearing a bindi, they respect not just the tradition, but also its history</b>.

Two things.

1. Christian paper Deccan chronicle is wrong.
Pottu (Bindi) is Hindu. It is not merely 'Indian', but particularly Hindu. It has great significance in Dharmic tradition. Hindu women know well that it covers the third eye for a purpose.
But I don't know why christoterrorists like Ambika Soni are wearing it, other than sheer ignorance. Then again, who am I to stop them when they keep making fools of themselves in public.

And good grief, not another gratuitous mention of the oryans/japhetites again (which are brought up at the end of the christorag Deccan Chronicle's article in the above post).
Why do christo fictions (jeebusjehovallah and the japhetites) keep getting imposed on unbelievers across the globe?

<b>About christoislami Deccan Chronicle:</b>
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Like its sister publication the Asian Age, the Deccan Chronicle is a Christian-oriented masala newspaper edited by the militant secularists M.J. Akbar, Naazreen Bhura, and Seema Mustafa. They do not tolerate dissent or opinions critical of themselves or their contributors. Their newspapers are a business to make money, not a forum for debate. Facts and figures are extraneous irritants to be ignored, except where the facts and figures can be employed in Hindu-bashing exercises.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->And the page also contains:<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The Deccan Chronicle is a popular anti-Brahmin2 <b>Catholic newspaper</b> and the newest proponent of the St. Thomas fable as Indian history (following The Hindu and The New Indian Express). It hides its pro-St. Thomas agenda behind a correspondent's byline and the provocative statement of the Santhome Cathedral parish priest: "The existence of the Santhome Church is a proof by itself that Christianity in India is more than 2000 years old" (DC, Chennai, 8 April 2007). For sucking up to the Catholic clergy, the Deccan Chronicle is the leader among Indian newspapers. Its editors, M.J. Akbar and Naazreen Bhura, both self-righteous secularists of the Nehruvian school, assiduously follow the Christian practice of treating Christian legend as history and Hindu history as mythology (or put another way, treating Christian superstition as tradition and Hindu tradition as superstition).<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

2. On the matter of dowry again - the following's from http://satyameva-jayate.org:
<!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Many Filipino customs are of Indian origin. Among them are the following: (1) placing a sampaguita flower garland around the neck of a visitor upon his arrival and departure as a symbol of hospitality and friendship; (2) before marriage, a groom gives a dowry to the bride’s parents and renders domestic services to his future in-laws; (3) when the guests throw rice on the bride and groom after the wedding; and (4) when a childless couple goes on a pilgrimage to a holy shrine, believing that the god of shrine will grant their prayer for fertility.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
If one sees it, the dowry practice spread and got its influence to the SEA region from India in pre-Islamic and pre-colonial times. The form of dowry practice is entirely different from what we see today in India. The original dowry practice was “the groom had to pay a dowry to the bride” and not the other way round as we see today in India.<!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->
The SJ site owner is trying his best to see some kind of sanity in things which have none. He seems to be a straight thinking guy at heart, but cannot make himself see the harm that some "well-read" people (eg Sanjeev Sabhlok) are doing to him when they push their thinly veiled commie propaganda.
<!--QuoteBegin-Husky+Jun 24 2008, 06:28 PM-->QUOTE(Husky @ Jun 24 2008, 06:28 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->2. On the matter of dowry again - the following's from http://satyameva-jayate.org:
<!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->http://www.geocities.com/CollegePark/Pool/1644/precolonial.html
<!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Many Filipino customs are of Indian origin. Among them are the following: (1) placing a sampaguita flower garland around the neck of a visitor upon his arrival and departure as a symbol of hospitality and friendship; (2) before marriage, a groom gives a dowry to the bride’s parents and renders domestic services to his future in-laws; (3) when the guests throw rice on the bride and groom after the wedding; and (4) when a childless couple goes on a pilgrimage to a holy shrine, believing that the god of shrine will grant their prayer for fertility.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
If one sees it, the dowry practice spread and got its influence to the SEA region from India in pre-Islamic and pre-colonial times. The form of dowry practice is entirely different from what we see today in India. The original dowry practice was “the groom had to pay a dowry to the bride” and not the other way round as we see today in India.<!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->
[right][snapback]83276[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->Bodhi, with reference to your post 97, the above quoteblock is taken from a <i>comment</i> on the satyameva jayate site. Don't recall that it was Shantanu who wrote that comment, but I could be wrong. (I know you said your #97 had no bearing on my #96; I'm just clarifying.)

An article on Hindu women by Koenraad Elst mentioned dowry. He wrote how traditionally the practise was centred around the bride getting her inheritance/her security upfront, like Bharatvarsh also highlighted above. I searched VOI for the topic but I'm getting no results, which is surprising. If any one remembers which one I am talking about, I will be grateful for them to tell me.
<!--QuoteBegin-Husky+Jun 29 2008, 12:44 PM-->QUOTE(Husky @ Jun 29 2008, 12:44 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->An article on Hindu women by Koenraad Elst mentioned dowry. He wrote how traditionally the practise was centred around the bride getting her inheritance/her security upfront, like Bharatvarsh also highlighted above. I searched VOI for the topic but I'm getting no results, which is surprising. If any one remembers which one I am talking about, I will be grateful for them to tell me.[right][snapback]83529[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->It is this one: http://koenraadelst.voi.org/articles/dutch/sati.htm
my search on English words failed because it is in Dutch.
I will try to translate the paras on dowry when I get the time.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Maintenance for live-in partner?
30 Jun 2008, 0003 hrs IST, Himanshi Dhawan,TNN

NEW DELHI: A woman in a live-in relationship should be entitled to maintenance if she is deserted by her man, the National Commission for Women has said.

In far-reaching recommendations to the ministry of women and child development, the commission has sought a change in the definition of "wife" — as described in Section 125 of CrPC, which deals with maintenance — and suggested that it include women involved in a live-in relationships.

The move aims to harmonize other sections of the law with the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act that treats a live-in couple's relationship on a par with that between a legally married husband and wife.

NCW also sought another significant amendment to Section 125, saying that said adultery should no longer be a ground for denying maintenance to a woman.

"We have found in 70% of divorce cases, adultery is used to discredit the woman. Not only is she thrown out of the house, but is also disgraced and denied her rights," NCW chairperson Girija Vyas said.

Section 125 provides for maintenance of wife, children and parents, who cannot maintain themselves. Maintenance can only be claimed by a woman who is a wife, has either been divorced or has obtained divorce, or is legally separated and is not remarried.

Pointing to the need for broad-basing the definition of wife in the section, commission officials said there had been many cases where the man led the woman to believe that he was unmarried or was divorced or widowed and went through the formalities required by the Hindu Marriage Act or the custom governing him.

'Long-term relationship valid to claim alimony'

The move by National Commission for Women to seek a change in the definition of "wife" is aimed at harmonizing other sections of law with the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act that treats a live-in couple's relationship on a par with that between a legally married husband and wife.

NCW chairperson Girija Vyas said, "Even if the marriage is not registered, if the woman can provide enough proof of a long-term relationship, her claim will stand."

Children of such relationships can also claim maintenance from the father, according to the NCW suggestion. This has been supported by several Supreme Court orders too.

The commission has also suggested that parents seeking maintenance from their sons or daughters should be able to file a case from where they reside rather than from where their offspring live.

wtf is this?

So now the gov't is gonna forcibly marry off people because they lived together?

"Women, women, women" is all these morons talk about, what about the guy, why should she be considered his wife when neither of them were legally married in either a civil or religious ceremony?

On top of this u gotta pay alimony bs just cuz she is a woman.

Laws like these will just be misused like they are doing now with fake dowry cases.

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