After raising her kids single-handedly, this single mother, Rajeswari, refused to stand aside and let someone else perform her daughter’s wedding’s most important ritual – Kanyadaan. She stood against the rudimentary customs to make sure that she plays a major role in the ritual.
Our Indian society follows many rituals – some of them are quite understandable and some are being blindly followed.
And weddings are a perfect example of it. Some rituals are so rudimentary that you couldn’t stop but wonder why our society still follows them blindly.
One such ritual is how some traditional conservative families expect single moms to stand in a corner while marriage rituals are performed by uncle and aunt.
Because as per the custom, a single mother cannot marry off her daughter by herself – the patriarch (a male head) needs to be present.
As a result, even after raising kids throughout their lives single moms usually play little or no part in their kids’ weddings. Sadly in place of her, close family members end up performing the rituals.
However, with changing times today’s single moms are refusing to bow down to this unfair ritual. And, one such mother is Rajeshwari.
Last year when Raji got her daughter married, a heart-warming photo of her daughter on her lap went viral on social media for all the right reasons.
Although the ritual itself, called ‘kanyadaanam’, is patriarchal in nature, this courageous mom-daughter duo challenged the norms by doing it in their own special way.
While speaking with TNM, Rajeshwari talked about her daughter’s wedding and how she chose to break the norms:
“I got married very early, at the age of 21, and moved to Australia with my husband, who was 12 years older than me”
The initial days weren’t easy for Raji. Coming from a very conservative Tamil Brahmin family, she struggled to get used to her surroundings during the initial days of her married life. But in Australia, with the encouragement of her husband, she studied IT and after a lot of hard work, she found an exciting job at IBM.
“In 1998, when I joined the IT industry, we were referred to as ‘golden collar workers’ in Australia. That was also a period of boom in the industry.”
But, things weren’t as smooth as they sound.
As her husband wasn’t an active part of the family, she had to take care of two children along with a full-time job.
While recalling her struggle, Raji shared how after almost 17 years of marriage, she and her husband mutually decided to part ways:
“Since he wasn’t a major part of my children’s lives, it was not very difficult for them to adjust. My family, in that regard, although very concerned, was very supportive.”
But when her daughter, Sandhya, decided to get married through Indian traditions, Raji was extremely happy.
However, being a single mom, Raji knew if she would like to participate in her daughter’s marriage, she may have to answer a lot of questions that her conservative family may pose.
But, Raji gathered all her courage to stand against the norms and perform Kanyadaan of her daughter.
“I very much wanted to be a part of my daughter’s wedding and so I decided to be the one who had to give her away in marriage.”
There are many traditions in India that need to be challenged and changed to make them inclusive of single moms. We hope this change will continue and move faster.
And, we hope with times, Indian parents would reconsider the whole ritual of Kanyadaan aswell. Why daughters to be treated any differently than sons? Why do parents need to give away daughter as ‘daan’? Wouldn’t it be a welcome change if society would stop considering daughters as ‘daan’ or a thing to give away?