Last week millions of Hindu women proudly celebrated a festival whose fundamental tenet is misogynistic. This is the festival of Karva Chauth. Women deprive themselves of food and water all day, and after sunset break their fast after they’ve viewed the moon through a kitchen sieve. They’ve been told that if they do this, the gods will ensure long lives for their husbands. In a country where every year, more than a 100,000 married women are murdered for dowry — burnt, hung, stabbed, poisoned, drowned, or driven to suicide — by their husbands and in-laws, and not a day goes by without media reports of such deaths, this womanly fixation on ensuring a long life for the husband seems sort of bizarre. But there is a cultural explanation for Indian women’s fixation on their husbands’ long lives….
READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE http://www.huffingtonpost.in/rita-banerji-/karva-chauth-a-womanly-ce_b_8429386.html
Posted by Rita Banerji on November 3, 2015
The reason I’m taking a curious interest in Kim Kardashian’s plans to eat her placenta, is because I’m actually keen to see how American doctors react to this. And there’s a reason why.
One of my oldest and closest friends is Hmong American. The Hmong are an ethnic minority from SE Asia, and live in an extensive community in mid-western USA, a community which I’ve visited frequently with my friend when I stayed with her parents or relatives. My friend’s mother was a shaman, and she worked with local hospitals translating concepts of health, illness and healing from the Hmong perspective for American doctors with Hmong patients, and vice versa.
Giving birth in ancient Egypt
When a woman gives birth, the Hmong believe that the placenta should be carefully buried under or near the family house, because it holds and guards the spirit of the child. They believe that if this is not done, then the child will fall very ill and could even die. There are many cultures that have similar beliefs. The Egyptians believed that a child is born with two souls, and one of them was housed in the placenta. So after birth, particularly for royalty, a special tomb would be erected for the burial of the placenta, like for a person. Interestingly where placenta was or still is eaten, as in China, Jamaica, and among smaller tribes as the Araucaninan of Argentina, it is usually ceremonially eaten by close relatives or fed to the child. This is symbolic of the same philosophy – i.e. preserving the spirit of the child within the home or by the family.
The problem for the Hmong living in the U.S. was, that American doctors couldn’t fathom this. They believed that the Hmong were actually eating the placenta (though they actually weren’t)! Placenta-eating is not (more…)
Posted by Rita Banerji on August 25, 2013
“But what about the collected Karma after all this killing?”
This is what a friend, who is Swiss, had asked me in 2006, when I told him that in less than 3 generations India had, systematically, without blinking an eyelid, exterminated at least 50 million women from its population, killing them at every stage of life.
Not surprisingly, that is one of the questions I’m frequently asked as founder of The 50 Million Missing Campaign, a global online lobby to raise awareness about India’s female genocide. After all isn’t India the land of religion and spirituality, and isn’t Karma a big part of the Hindu philosophy — this idea that whatever you do, comes back to you in one way or another?
The answer to this question I put into an article “The Schizophrenia of Moral Systems” I had written for the Word Worth Magazine (Vol 6, No.10, Oct 2006).
To read the article click here (and then click on ‘Columns’)
Posted by Rita Banerji on August 13, 2012
An Atlas Cedar -- my favorite conifer!
I know this comes 2 weeks late, but that is the intention! Because this is not a post about the recently past Christmas, but about the many Christmases I celebrated as a child, many years ago, and how much I miss them as I watch the Christmases of today. (more…)
Posted by Rita Banerji on January 8, 2012
An American friend today emailed me some of his favorite ‘Thanksgiving’ anecdotes. And I in turn sent him one of mine. And then I thought maybe I should share it on my blog too — it might resonate with others as it has with me.
This happened when I was living in Washington D.C. This is one city, that during the holidays, Christmas, Thanksgiving etc. becomes a ghost town. Everyone clears out. I had neighbors, women who retired from the State Department, and had lived three-fourths of their lives in D.C., who would say “I’m going home for Thanksgiving,” and then leave for New York State, or Ohio or wherever it was that they were born and raised.
In the end there would only be a motley handful of us, foreigners from various countries, left behind (more…)
Posted by Rita Banerji on November 25, 2011