Recognizing Ram was a “Bad” Husband

Today is the festival of Diwali in India celebrated with lots of lights and fire crackers. Last year President Obama celebrated it in the White House. But do we fully understand the implications of these traditions? Of the misogyny and permissiveness for violence against women contained in the myths that harbor these traditions? I talk about it here


by Rita Banerji

Diwali, India’s glorious festival of lamps, carries not just festive joy into the hearts of people gorging on sweets and bursting fire-crackers, but also cultural sexism in the form of a popular myth associated with this festival, that gets unquestioningly retrenched into people’s mind-sets.

The Diwali story goes as such.  Ram, who incidentally was both god and King, had his beautiful wife, Sita, abducted by the Sri Lankan king, Ravana.  Interestingly Ravana, who usually is portrayed as an ogre in Indian myths, turns out to be the King and the hero-God who rescued Sita from an unhappy and love-less marriage when this same story is narrated in Sri Lanka!  However, in the Indian version, Ram collected an army, crossed the strait to Sri Lanka and battled Ravana, defeating and killing him, and thus rescued his wife.  When he returned to India with Sita, the Indians celebrated his…

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