Can we just come out of our age-old traditions and customs and see a new world that is growing up in front of us? Yes, this is a question which is often asked by girls in the new generation. However, today we have someone who not only challenged this question but also acted as a man after she faced the biggest tragedy of her life.
Depressed and disheartened after the death of her husband and father-in-law, Chetna Modi, decided to cremate their dead bodies. It was for the first time in her whole life, she did something that was more challenging, unacceptable and controversial as far as Hinduism was concerned. A boy performs all the last rituals after anyone dies in house; here is a case where a woman broke the taboo by performing Agni Sanskaar. Certain beliefs like, only men/boys can perform pooja which is considered to be their duties after anyone dies in the house, or say the soul will get Moksha only if the son gives Agni to the corpus are now timeworn. If women can give births to human beings, raise them, educate them, and make them able to face the challenges of the world, then why can’t they perform the death rituals? This in true sense is a matter of concern in our society.
Questioning Our Pratha
“It was very difficult to make my family members and relatives understand about the old Pratha that is being implemented in our lives. Who decided that only men can give Agni to the dead body? And what is the reason behind it? Women too are eligible to perform such ceremonies, I believe. It is we who give birth and so we have every right to give them Agni Daan. For me it was really disturbing when I gave fire to my husband’s and father-in-laws’ dead body but, at the same time it was also important to perform the last rites as I wanted to give my last homage to them. And I know by doing that, my husband and my father-in-law who were more than my well-wishers and guides would have been at peace,” opines Chetna.
We still live in the times where men and women are discriminated at every level; right from the birth till death. Still, we cannot imagine a world without women as they are the ones who bring men into existence. Then, why can’t we just give them their rights instead of making rules and regulations for them? However, with the changing times, the pattern is also changing for women. Women are now coming out of the veil and claiming their rights. Many women who happen to be the only child of their parents are now performing the Antim Sanskar ritual. Thus, the modern woman is challenging all the derogatory practices which seek to restrict freedom and rights. She is emerging as the power which will definitely take Hinduism towards a better future.
Clubbing both, the women empowerment and performing the last rites, Chetna Modi says, “It definitely brings peace as well as a hope while performing the last rituals of our dear ones. I would say that though I have lost my life partner and a lovable father, but I definitely have gained their blessings as both of them staunchly believed in women empowerment. I think all those girls who are the only child of their parents should give Agni Daan to their parents as it is their right. And as far as women empowerment is concerned, then it should be the women themselves, who need to understand and convince the society about their existence and rights.”
In Hindu religion, women are considered to be the weaker section of society and the main reason behind it is that they are too emotional, vulnerable to handle harsh situations. This is again a generalized mentality. Again, on the other hand if a girl is not emotional and is practical enough then, she gets into the bad books of people. Every person has his/her own nature and hence it is not right to generalize women every now and then.
Women are stronger than men! And the reason for it is that they CRY, SPEAK, FIGHT! All these factors make them emotional according to men but, in reality it makes them strong as they come out with their emotions rather than keeping them inside!
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