Similarities to my tradition

After I read the chapter, “The Red Candle” in the novel The Joy Luck Club, one thing immediately struck my mind was the gender discrimination which strongly prevailed in the 1930’s Chinese tradition. According to the story, Chinese women are given a very low status and position; they are treated ruthlessly. Hence, I thought to compare the Chinese tradition with that of my Nepali tradition and analyze if that is true in my culture too.

Lindo Jong, one of the narrators of the story, was only two years old when her marriage was arranged with a boy who was one year younger than her. Since then, she became a burden for her family and had to face a lot of reprimands from her mother. Even after her marriage, she had to do all household chores and endeavor to make her in-laws happy. Moreover, she was coerced to become pregnant soon and give birth to a descendent to the family.

In addition, I was astonished to learn about the red candle ritual during the marriage of a Chinese couple. A candle is lit at both of its ends in the name of the bride and groom. Then, it is kept burning for the whole night until it has burned completely. This tradition seems to be surprising because if the candle is burned successfully, then the marriage is considered to be long-lasting. As a result, particularly women are not allowed to remarry even if their husband dies. Hence, this tradition indirectly promotes gender disparity. If the women get married to another husband, then they end up becoming a concubine, a mistress whose life is full of hatred and humiliation. However, the man is free to marry as many times as he wishes and have concubines for his satisfaction and needs. This fact really made me indignant about the custom. If men are allowed to keep concubines, then why are women not allowed to have men as their concubines?

Now, talking about my tradition, it has some similarities with the Chinese tradition. In the rural parts of Nepal, women are still considered to be commodities. They are married in their early age and are confined to do tedious household work. They are supposed to comply with their husband’s decisions and are harassed by their in-laws if they are late to conceive. Furthermore, in most communities, polygamy is quite common. Men are allowed to have as many wives as they desire. However, a widow-marriage is highly discouraged. A widow has to face abasement and embarrassment in society if she marries again. Nevertheless, these old beliefs are being eradicated with the passage of time and people are becoming more concerned in eliminating gender discrimination.

These were some similarities which I found between the two traditions. Is it similar in your cases too?


One Response to Similarities to my tradition

  1. Masooma says:

    Dear Priyanaka,
    The answer is “Yes”. Still in Afghanistan many girls have to comply with the marriage that has been decided for them when they were too young to walk or speak or understand the meaning of marriage. Unfortunately there is nobody to support them because it’s their father who has accepted the proposal for his baby girl. Most of these women are never asked if they are satisfied with the decision made for their whole life or not. Since it’s a norm in the society that women should obey their fathers’ and brothers’ decision t be considered a decent daughter, these girls come to believe that they really have no say to decide about their future. They are taught that family’s reputation always comes first. In addition most of them know if they oppose the arranged marriage their family will become their first enemies. Where do they have to go?
    Fortunately in cities this ugly tradition is diminishing, but many families in rural areas still remain strong advocates of arranged marriage.

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