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Erosion of Culture ...
|by Brindha Saran|
"Avoid revealing clothes and avoid rape" says Shivsena...
Women covering from head to foot. Did such a thing exist in a India? Was sexuality in the Indian culture a closet thing and something to be ashamed of? If so, why do we see half naked sculptures of women in the temples? How can we explain Kamasutra and Kujhurao? Until recently, many village women either didn't cover their breasts at all or wore just a saree without blouse. In Kerala, women still wear just a tight blouse, without a saree draped around their breasts. It certainly didn't create discomfort among their family and encourage ill-treatment or rape. African tribal women still remain topless. If you see illustrations of old Puranic stories, you see the women with a piece of cloth across their chest and long flowing skirt, surrounded by their friends and family. We don't see them depicted with full length sarees. Yet, we don't feel uncomfortable about it. We visit our local temples which are filled with sculptures of women scantily dressed. Yet, we are ready to take our children to the temple. Our dress was indeed more suited to the climate we live in.
Then, why do we feel uncomfortable when a woman of our family dresses that way. Why do some men, today, feel strange need to molest when they see a scantily dressed woman on street? A man in his similar position few millenniums ago certainly didn't feel the same. His mother, sister and aunt all wore the same kind of minimalist garb. As a result, when he got attracted to a woman it would not merely be a physical thing. For him, the religion glorified sexual relationship to be divine.
If such a freedom existed in our culture, where did we lose it? What influenced us to start hiding our bodies under long thick materials, despite the soaring temperature, while men could still get away with minimalist garbs? I would most certainly say that it is due to our long history of foreign rule, which inevitably brought with it an alien culture and ideas.
From the beginning of the last millennium, the ruthless invaders persecuted the then prosperous Indian society, which prided itself of international trade. The monotheist religions followed by them viewed sex as a sin and punishment. It dictated that women and men ought to covered fully to preserve decency and decorum. The Indian culture was viewed as tribal and its way of life barbaric. So, the strict Islamic and Victorian principles were imprinted onto the Indian culture. Why the Indian people chose to change their value system and dress code is open to debate. Probably, they bought into those alien concepts and as a result felt ashamed of their dressing style. It is interesting to note that it is only the women who embraced this change. The Indian men are very comfortable to remain bareback, should they feel like it. In the west, it is disgraceful and insulting for a man to appear bare-chested in public except in beaches and swimming pools. But most of the western world have come out the shackles of Victorian principles, while in India we are struggling for our original identity. On the contrary, most pure Islamists still follow the Sharia law which says that a woman should marry the person of her parent's choice. Failing to do so is haram in that culture. This article is not to say that one culture is superior from the other. What I want to highlight is that Indian culture never tried to curtail women's freedom.
Indian culture accepted everything from love marriage to live-in relationships. We can find lots of examples of this in our Puranas. Female power that existed is highlighted by the practice of swayamvara, in which a woman could choose from an array of men lined up in front of her. It was realized that the union of mind and body is akin to divinity. Both generate a deep sense of love and trance, delineating one from one's ego and selfishness. Trying to garb this basic instinct of human being with shame and guilt, will only lead to perversion and crime.
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