Before they understand the meaning of marriage

August 23, 2007 at 5:19 pm 4 comments

Before they understand the meaning of marriage…  

Her life-partner is chosen when she is still in her mother’s womb—at a time when even her parents do not know whether the baby is a son or a daughter. Not only that, before she can see the groom, her marriage is arranged and she ties the nuptial knot at the age of seven or eight, and is then sent off for ‘gauna’. If the groom is still alive by the time of ‘gauna’, conjugal life awaits her. Otherwise, she is alone for the rest of her life. In this way are Madheshi [inhabitants of the Terai region] women forced to live their life. 

@ By Pabita Poudel  

“I didn’t know what marriage was. I did whatever my parents told me to do,” says 14- year-old Sushila Lod in her mother tongue. A resident of Kisuli village of Bhujauli Village Development Committee (VDC) in Rupandehi, Sushila Lod’s marriage was arranged with Lakhan Lod (name changed) of the same village when she was in her mother’s womb. She was married to Lakhan just seven years after her birth.  

When she was married, she was studying in grade one but after marriage her education was discontinued. Now it is time for Sushila to go for gauna. Her family members talk of sending her away this year.  

Seeing the childish exubera nce in her, no one will believe that she is already married. The parting of her hair was covered with vermilion powder, her neck adorned with a necklace symbolizing her matrimony, her arms were covered with bangles, and her ankles with bracelets. She was wearing sari and blouse. Her attire made it amply clear that she was married. Asked why they had arranged their unborn child’s marriage, her father Nachen Lod and mother Sushila Lod said in unison: “All this is our traditional culture. Not only us, all in our community arrange their daughter’s marriage in this way.” Kisuli village, situated in southern Rupandehi, consists of small houses made of khapada [a type of clay brick]. Sushila’s house is one of them.  

The sight of tethered bulls, utensils littered on the courtyard and dried cow dung plastered on the outer walls gave a clear picture of a typical Madheshi settlement. For Sushila’s family, which subsists on selling vegetable, education is an unachievable wish. Their problems are compounded by their compulsion to send their daughter off for gauna. Says her father Nachen Lod: “We poor people can ill afford the birth of a daughter.”  

In the Madheshi community, the practice of marrying off daughters when they are just five to six years old and sending them to their husband’s home when they are considered to have come of age, for the consummation of the marriage, is called gauna . Alternatively, the honeymoon itself is called gauna . As boys are older than girls at the time of marriage, they are in a position to choose their bride. They are also allowed to study after marriage. But the girls are deprived of such facilities the moment they enter their husband’s house.  

Like Sushila, Bijaya Laxmi Gupta, of Tenahuwa VDC-4 in Rupandehi, is also bracing for gauna. A ninth-grader, 14-yearold Bijaya Laxmi was married to Jayamangal Gupta of Kapilvastu when she was eight. Revealing that she wishes to go to her husband’s home only after passing SLC, Bijaya Laxmi says: “My wish alone is nothing. When my family says that I have to go, then I have to go. What can I do? If I don’t take much dowry to my husband’s home, they will scorn me. This is our practice.”  

Bijaya Laxmi’s husband, Jayamangal Gupta, is studying in grade 10 at Yashodhara Secondary School in Kapilvastu. Asked about the tradition of the groom’s family demanding lots of dowry when the bride is admitted to the house, 18-year-old Jayamangal Gupta says: “That depends on individual desire. But we don’t do that. We don’t like gauna practice and dowry system.” Child marriage culminating in gauna is prevalent among Yadav, Lod, Bari, Marau and Sunar communities. Sanju Shrivastav, of Amari village of Lumbini VDC, is in the first year of B.Ed. She too has reached the age of going to her husband’s home. She wants to do that after completing her studies, but if her family insists she has no choice but to abandon her education. Although women suffer more due to the practice of gauna, Sanju says she likes it because it is part of her tradition. “I find it okay because it is a traditional culture. And everyone has accepted it, too.”  

Although they have lost their wishes and ambitions to it, these women are forced to accept this blind social tradition. These women of Terai can neither get a husband of their choosing nor continue their studies. Worse still, at times they are deprived of marital life altogether if their betrothed dies before gauna.  

If the boy does love marriage with some other girl, the girl whom he was originally engaged with is in a quandary. Few men will be willing to marry a girl already betrothed to someone else.  

The Tharu Madheshi community inhabits the majority of the VDCs of southern Rupandehi. There, child marriage and gauna are practised by almost all the families. Some 75 per cent of the children studying at Buddha Adarsha Secondary School in Khunagai of Bhagwanpur VDC, Rupandehi suffer from the gauna practice. Says Prem Shankar Mishra, a teacher at the school: “This practice is taken root in Madheshi community only because of a lack of education and awareness. But it does not exist in hilly societies.”  

Child marriage used to take place in the society of people hailing from the hilly region, too. But unlike in the Madheshi community, the hilly folks never had the practice of sending away daughters for the consummation of their marriage just four to five years after it takes place, although they had to go to their husband’s home immediately after marriage. But now thanks to education and awareness, child marriage has been abolished in the hilly society. Intellectuals argue that the malpractice continues to hold sway in the Madheshi community because the light of education and awareness is yet to reach it. The gauna practice is a form of child marriage; it incorporates another malpractice, the dowry system, too. Social worker Samiullah Musalman, of Lumbini Adarsha VDC, says he himself is a victim of the gauna practice, and that such a practice increases misunderstanding among young men and women. He argues that it brings about social evils such as family feuds and disintegration of families, and women suffer the most from all of it. He says: “I have managed my life somehow, but my children should marry someone of their own choosing, that too only after completing their education.”  

Prahlad Yadav, a journalist of Siugadiya, Ekla VDC-4, was also married when he was a child and a victim of the gauna practice. He was in grade nine when his gauna took place. He was only 15 then. He is against the gauna practice and says it causes double expenditure and especially hurts poor families. The practice violates children’s rights, adds to the suffering of women and renders the future of women even more uncertain, says journalist Yadav. Arguing that in the Madheshi community, if the gauna practice is abolished, the dowry system will also become history, Satis Chandra Kasodhan, central chairman of Bhojpuri Language Protection Forum, says: “If the girl does not bring adequate dowry during gauna, the husband does not accept her, or beats and tortures her.”  

During Muslim rule in India, the practice of abducting would-be brides was prevalent. That practice was a kind of a religious war. To counteract the practice of abductions, there emerged the practice of child marriage, says chairman Satis.  

Stating that those who were married when they were a child undergo trauma when they come of age, B N Bhari, a specialist of mental diseases, says: “They are not affected when they are a child, but when they become mature their psychology may be affected and they may suffer from mental diseases.”  

According to gynecologist Dr Binita Subedi, when a girl is married when still a child, her reproductive organs are not mature enough and if she becomes pregnant, the life of both the mother and the baby is at risk. Radhika Mishra, a resident of Dhagdha hi in Nawalparasi district and a member of All National Women’s Association, says this practice cannot be abolished through the efforts of one or two persons, but can be easily done away with if there is awareness. Advocate Ratna Shrestha says the government must enact tough laws to stop this practice, and penalize those abetting child marriage.  

Courtesy By Sancharika Samuha

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Entry filed under: Articles.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. prabhat ray bhatt  |  April 5, 2010 at 1:17 am

    pahle hume ye samjhna hoga ki dahej pratha se ku-pratha kaise bana. . . .baidik kal se dahej pratha chala aaraha hai.dahej ka matlab hota tha ki beti ki bidai ke ghadi uski jo paitrik sampati me adhikar hai ushme se kuchh hisa saugat ke rupme betiko deke bidai kiya jata tha.jo beti ke liye sukhmaya jivan ka sanket hota tha. dhire dhire samaya ke sath sab kuch badalta gaya aur logone sadi byah se pahale hi paise ki mang karna suru kardiya.beti bale apne beti ki sukh ke khatir apna basa huwa gharko ujar ke bete bale ka jholi bharna suru kardiya. yaha se ab hum dahej ko pratha nahi ku pratha kah sakte hai .kyu ki aaj ki jo ishthiti hai woh humare samaj ki bikritiyan hai, aur ish ki chapet me garib yebam madhyambargi paribar ki jo behalt aur lachari abastha jahir hai humare samne.kavi sunte hai dahej na deneki wojah se bahuki hatya,kavi sunte hai ki beti ki sadi na kar paneki wojah se pita ne ki khudkasi.Akhir kab tak ye ghinoune harkat humare samaj me chalta rahega. kaisi pratha hai ye jo beta ki sadi me hanshte hai aur beti ke sadi me rote hai.kon rok sakta hai ishko doctor, eng, educated persons ya samaj ke budhijeebi log ,nai . . . .kyu ki unhone apne beteko doctor,eng.bahut paise kharch karke banaye hai to woh sari paise beti bale se hi to osul karna hai na.. . .aur humare samaj me ish kam ke liye mula paikar bhi uplabadh hain.to kon rok sakta hai ise, ye bahut badi chailenge hai humare samne.ha yadi hum yuva chahe to ish kupratha ko rok sakte hai.na hum dahej lenge aur na hum dahej denge.hum sab Aadarsh bibah karenge ye kasham khane ki jarurat hai hume.comes and join your hands against to dowry seystem

  • 2. Prabhat ray bhatt  |  April 6, 2010 at 6:42 am

    . prabhat ray bhatt | April 5, 2010 at 1:17 am

    पहले हमे ये समझना होगा की दहेज़ प्रथा से कु -प्रथा कैसे बना . . . .बैदिक काल से दहेज़ प्रथा चला आरहा है !.दहेज़ का मतलब होता था की बेटी की बिदाई के घडी उसकी जो पैत्रिक सम्पति में अधिकार है , उश्मे से कुछ हिसा सौगात के रुपमे बेटिको देके बिदाई किया जाता था ,जो बेटी के लिए सुखमय जीवन का संकेत होता था , धीरे धीरे समाया के साथ सब कुछ बदलता गया और लोगोने सदी ब्याह से पहले ही पैसे की मांग करना सुरु करदिया ,बेटी बाले अपने बेटी की सुख के खातिर अपना बसा हुवा घरको ऊजार के बेटे बाले का झोली भरना सुरु करदिया , यहाँ से अब हम दहेज़ को प्रथा नहीं कु – प्रथा कह सकते है ! क्यों की आज की जो इश्थिति है वोह हमारे समाज की बिकृतियाँ है , और इश की चपेट में गरीब एबम मध्यम्बर्गी परिबार की जो बेहलात और लाचारी अबस्था जाहिर है हमारे सामने .कभी सुनते है दहेज़ न देनेकी वोजः से बहुकी हत्या ,कभी सुनते है की बेटी की सादी न कर पानेकी वोजः से पिता ने की खुद्कसी.आखिर कब तक ये घिनौने हरकत हमारे समाज में चलता रहेगा . कैसी प्रथा है ये जो बेटा की सादी में हंश्ते है और बेटी के सादी में रोते है .कोण रोक सकता है इश्को या समाज के बुधिजीबी लोग ,न i . . . .क्यों की उन्होंने अपने बेटेको डॉक्टर ,इंजिनियर .बहुत पैसे खर्च करके बनाये है तो वोह साडी पैसे बेटी बाले से ही तो ओसुल करना है न .. . .और हमारे समाज में इश कम के लिए मुला पैकार भी उपलब्ध हैं .to को न रोक सकता है इसे , ये बहुत बड़ी चैलेन्गे है हमारे सामने हा यदि हम युवा चाहे तो इश कुप्रथा को रोक सकते है .न हम दहेज़ लेंगे और न हम दहेज़ देंगे .हम सब आदर्श बिबाह करेंगे ये कषम खाने की जरुरत है हमे खुद को अपनेही पिता के बिरुद्ध खड़ा होने की जरुरत है ! comes and join your hands against to dowry system.

  • 3. alok baniya  |  June 28, 2010 at 5:20 am

    mai bhi dahej ka khule aam birodh karta hu, dahej ke rup me log bargaining karte hai aur gai aur bhai ke tarh se bechette hai
    nepali nagarik ke haisita se mai bhi birodha karta hun, lekin ghar pariwar se bahut aap man hona padta,
    this article is very good , pls continue to like this article , thanks
    baniya

  • 4. Nicole  |  December 23, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Also, there are people who suffer from depression
    who have regular levels of serotonin in their brain and
    depressed people with high levels of serotonin. An arte extends to the left
    of the horn and three cirques are visible below. As well, some sensible diet and lifestyle choices are
    proven methods to keep depression at bay. If you as an adult have difficulty coping with depression, imagine how a young child feels.
    It has been shown to improve mood and help one be able to effectively deal with challenging circumstances.
    What type of crops did sharecroppers plant specifically.

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