First Menstruation Rituals in My Community and Status of a Woman

                When I was reading the article “Rituals of First Menstruation in Sri Lanka” by Deborah Winslow, I was thinking of the rituals existing in my own community. I never thought before that all of those rituals symbolize a woman’s position in my community. In this blog post I want to share some of these first menstruation rituals from my culture.

            I am from an urban area of Bangladesh. There are lots of first menstruation rituals in my culture. Lots of arrangements are taken when a girl has her first menstruation. In some families, they arrange a milad (religious festival) to pray to Allah for a good future for the girl, and in this day, her grandmother or sister-in-law pierces her ears and nose to make her a complete woman (as they think). All her relatives are invited in this milad. They give her clothing and ornaments. After the festival, the girl is sent to her grandmother’s house where her grandmother teaches her house hold chores. The main purpose of this celebration is to prepare the girl as a perfect housewife because they think that she is now physically mature and able to give birth, so according to the religion Islam, parents should marry her off as soon as possible. They invite their relatives so that they can bring marriage proposals for her. When a girl has her first menstruation, suddenly parents give her a shawl to cover her breasts although her breasts aren’t grown up yet. She is no more allowed to play in the field because she is a fertile woman, and fertile woman are vulnerable to bad spirits who can destroy her fertility and make her unable to give birth forever. Also, she has to bear a piece of iron with her when her monthly period begins because bad spirits fear iron. She is also given food without spicy. Her family gives her food made of using turmeric only; also, they give her to drink milk and honey so that she will have a fair skin color. This belief symbolizes how significant a fair skin color is in a girl’s life to have a good husband.

I can share my own experience here. Although I am not from an uneducated family, and my family didn’t celebrate my first menstruation as I have described above, I had to follow some rituals as well. Before my menstruation, I didn’t wear any shawl to cover my head and breasts. However, on that day of my first menstruation, my mother told me to wear a shawl. I was also given food without spicy and a piece of iron to bear. My aunts started to ridicule me saying, “We have heard that you saw flower. Is it true?” I said, “What kind of flower?” They replied laughing, “Red flower to give fruit.” At that time I didn’t understand anything, but now I know what red flower and fruit symbolizes. It is a common joke people make at the girl who has her first menstruation alluding to her fertility.

Finally, every culture has some rituals that play special significance in people’s lives. These are really interesting to explore to know about the beliefs of our own people.

 

 

 

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Necessity Knows No Law

              In the chapter “Holy Victory” of the autobiography Growing up Untouchables in India by Vasant Moon, Moon narrates their poor condition when his mother doesn’t have any work. He says how intolerable the attack of hunger can be, which demolishes one’s spirit as well as one’s honesty. He describes how he is compelled to steal the old lady’s bananas after starvation of two days. After stealing her bananas, he doesn’t feel any guilt for stealing, but in the chapter “Dev Master’s Curse Fails,” he feels guilt after stealing his friend’s painting brush. He is again and again asking himself, “Why did I steal?”(Moon 35). The next day, he returns the brush to his friend because his bad spirit cannot cope up with his good spirit. However, I am surprised why he doesn’t feel any remorse after stealing the bananas. He just says, “Many thoughts started running through my mind. I felt pride in my mother’s honesty” (Moon 75). What about his dishonesty? Why doesn’t he utter a single word about his evil deed? One of my friends asked this question during our class discussion. I have a rationale for these two circumstances.

            When he steals the brush, he feels guilty because that is not his fundamental need, and he can survive without the painting brush. However, when he steals the bananas to satisfy his hunger, he doesn’t have any sense of right or wrong as he has been starving for two days at a time. At that time, he just needs something to fortify his stomach. Moon describes the situation very poignantly, “Hunger slowly begins to die. With it, the flowing spirit begins to dry up, free laughter vanishes” (ibid.). Poverty is such an evil thing that sometimes destroys all good qualities. Reading Moon’s experience, I am thinking myself, what would I do if I were in Moon’s position? I don’t find the answer from myself. Even I can’t imagine the situation of starving for two days at a stretch, so I don’t blame him for stealing in this situation. Moon is facing a critical situation when the dirty hand of poverty snatches away all good spirits. However, his mother’s honesty is admirable. She can starve for a long period, but Moon and his sister are still children. How can these little children starve so long?

 In conclusion, I think that without expressing any guilt himself for his misdeed, Moon has just let the readers to judge him. However, it is very hard to judge this situation. Is it unethical to steal in this situation, or can I punish a child for stealing food who has been starving for two days at a time? What do you think, friends?

Dangers of All Kinds of Lies

            The essay “The Truth about Lying” by Judith Viorst, discusses about four kinds of lying that are not harmful for the society; rather, these kinds of lies makes relationship better in some cases. The author has categorized these into four categories, and these are social lies, peace-keeping lies, protective lies, and trust-keeping lies. In my life, I had to tell all these four kinds of lies in order to live happily, but unfortunately, all these four kinds of lies brought troubles in my life. I want to share my experiences about how lies are always worse.

            Social Lie: This kind of lying is a little bit like flattery. However, we have to lie sometimes to make our dear ones happy by praising them highly although they are not worthy of that much praise. I always tell these kinds of lies. One day, one of my friends made some sweet food for me. I highly praised her telling that that was very delicious. She became very happy. When she went away, I just threw that away. Oh my goodness! Another day, she made lots of same food, and she wanted me to eat more and more (as she thought I liked that very much). She was sitting in front of me, and I was eating that rubbish food! Can you imagine what happened to me that day?

            Peace-keeping Lie: Before coming at AUW, I had to live with one of my female cousin whose husband lived in another city. She had a little son. One day, her son became very sick, and she took her son to the hospital. Unfortunately, she left her mobile phone at home. In the mean time, her husband called me, and asked where she was. I was in a fix what to say. Her husband was very bad tempered man. I knew he would quarrel with my cousin for the baby’s sickness; therefore, to keep peace in the family, I told him that she went to park with her son. When my cousin arrived, she called him over phone again and said same as I said. At night, we were surprised seeing my brother-in law at home. He came to surprise us! At that day, he scolded both of us for lying. He thought we both sisters always lied to him.

             Protective Lie: One girl in my neighborhood became pregnant before marriage. Pregnancy before marriage is like a crime in our society. In the mean time, she was affected by malaria. Her mother took her to a local doctor. To protect her daughter from social punishment, she didn’t tell the doctor that her daughter was pregnant. Doctor gave her high doses of medicines. Ironically, after a few days, the girl died only for one lying.

             Trust-keeping Lie: One of my friends always used to go to date with her boy friend, but whenever her father scolded her for being late to return home, she told that she was with me. Her father often called me, and I assured him saying that she was with me, but she was not. Every time, I had to tell lies to keep her trust. In our final exam, she failed because she missed lots of important classes for dating. I felt guilty myself that I also assisted her in this evil habit.

             In conclusion, I want to say my friends, think 100 times before telling a lie whatever it is- social lie, peace-keeping lie, protective lie, or trust-keeping lie.

Willy’s Suicide Note!

Dear Linda, Biff, and Happy,

When you are reading this note, I am far away from you forever. Before leaving from this cruel world, I would like to tell you something that I never told you before, and for my whole life, I had been feeling guilty for that.

Sweetheart Linda,

I don’t know how I can express my love, my gratitude to you. You are the one who was always by my side during my rainy days. Our family was surrounded with a circle made of your love and affection.  Perhaps, to you, I was innocent like an angel. The way you loved me could only be compared to the way people worship the god. But…….oh poor Linda! I can’t tell you……but I’ve to …..darling, please stop crying for this stupid husband who betrayed with your innocent love. Believe me, I am not the god whom you worshipped. I am a devil, Linda! Yes, I am! You don’t know, I had an extra marital affair with a woman, and I used to give her stockings when you had to mend your own stockings. Oh Linda! I deceived with you! Can you forgive me, Linda? I couldn’t bring material success for my family; my whole life was an empty vessel- full of self-deception and false pride. I couldn’t lead this vain life anymore, so I made the decision of committing suicide. After my death, you’ll get the insurance money, and Biff can begin his own business with that amount. I hope that will be enough for you to lead a solvent life. Take care of yourself and my sons, darling. May Jesus take care of you. Bye.

Your Willy

Biff, my son,

I know you hate me very much. I always treated badly with you, but Biff, this is not the character of a father. You never tried to understand my love for you. I always insulted you for your failure to be a successful person because I wanted my son to be the best in the society. I wanted you to be famous, Biff. I know how much I hurt you by cheating with your mother. I am guilty for that, Biff. Can you please forgive me, Biff? I was responsible for your life, wasn’t I? How frustrating it was seeing my own son destroying his life for only my faults! Now, Biff, your pop has made a good decision. I destroyed your spirit, and I am giving you another spirit sacrificing my own life. After my death you’ll get the insurance money. Please, use the money to begin your own business. Take care of your mom and Happy. May you be successful in your life. Bye.

Your Pop

Happy, my boy,

I admit that I was indifferent to you, and I was always more concerned about Biff than you. Do you know why? Because I knew if Biff could be a famous man, he would never abandon you. I believed he would also make your life successful. Now, your pop is leaving you forever, but Happy, do obey your brother Biff, and never hurt your mother. May Jesus bless all of you. Bye.

Your pop

Gender Discrimination in “Death of a Salesman”

               

 When I was reading the first act of the play “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller, I was pondering about some gender issues that I found absolutely discriminatory.

 The main character of this play Willy Loman exemplifies the conventional masculinity (!) prevailing in our male dominated society. Willy Loman, who is the main earning member of the family, is always insulting his wife Linda when she wants to tell anything about the children; moreover, he is engaged in an extra-marital affair with a woman, and giving stocking to her as a gift while his wife is mending a pair of stockings herself. He is cheating on her wife Linda, who not only loves him but also highly admires him. On the other hand, the author portrays Linda’s character as a traditional woman who is dedicated to her family, and who doesn’t have any opinion in the decision-making of her family affairs. Her husband Willy is always insulting her whenever she speaks in any family affairs, and she doesn’t protest against him. In the act 1, we see when Linda is telling Willy about her son Biff that “he is too rough with the girls, and all the mothers are afraid of him” (13), Willy just insults her saying “Shut Up!” (14). Millar portrays another character Happy who is the epitome of virility. Happy considers girls to be used as the objects to satisfy sexual desire only. Although he himself is having sex with girls, he criticized Miss Forsythe saying, “Isn’t that a shame now? A beautiful girl like that? That’s why I can’t get married. There’s not a good woman in a thousand” (38). Moreover, Happy’s allusion to Miss Forsythe’s “binoculars (37)” indicates that a girl is only a physical body without any self identity. In addition, another male character Biff when he had confidence he also used girls. We can understand his concept towards girls when Happy says, “Where’s the old confidence, Biff?”

In conclusion, in the play “Death of a Salesman,” Arthur Millar portrays the women characters very lightly. He shows the women as one kind of neglected creatures through the eyes of the male characters in the whole play.

Feeling unhappy? Tired? Frustrated? Want to be happy? Try It!!!

             In my “Academic Reading and Writing” class, our teacher is teaching us about happiness. We have read a time magazine article titled as “Health and Happiness”, where the author has given some tips to be happy. According to the article, counting your blessings in life, hearing music, nurturing your spirituality, moving your body, laughing big, doing something nice for someone else, making more money than your peers, seeking positive emotion, identifying with your heritage, using a happy memory as a guide, play the part of an optimist, trying new things, telling your story to someone, balancing work and home, making time, smiling etc. There is no doubt that these tactics can necessarily make a person happy.

            Today, I am writing this blog entry to introduce another exceptional way to be happy that I learned last term from the novel The Joy Luck Club, and that is fung shway! It is a Chinese tradition of bringing peace, happiness, balance and harmony to your life by rearranging elements and objects in your home or workplace. Although there is no scientific reason behind this idea, I personally believe it really does work. I want to give the tips to my friends how you can be happy using the idea of fung shway, and I can guarantee that you will feel happy.

            Are you devastated after breaking up with your boyfriend? Felling bored with tedious class work? Felling frustrated after getting bad grade? Do you want a change in your daily life style? If your answer is “yes” for any of the above questions, fung shway is for you!!!

          What you have to do first is to choose a day. You can choose your week-ends. On the fixed day, get up earlier than you do in your typical days. It’s better if you start the day saying your prayer. Then, take your breakfast, and start arranging your room. First, keep all the furniture out of the room, and then clean the whole room. Clean every corner including the ceiling, window, and the fan too. Also, clean your wash room and the veranda attached to your dorm. Next, arrange the furniture in the room in a different way than it was before. Now, keep your things in the shelf or locker in an arranged way. Spray air-freshener if you want to. You can also hang a few paintings on the wall, or you can buy a flower vase, and keep some colorful flowers in it. Don’t forget to use a clean colorful bed cover on your bed. Make sure that you keep your furniture in a way that there are enough light and air in the room.

             Now, you have finished your own fung shway! Don’t you feel happy now?  You will feel more happy taking a cool refreshing bath after all these hard work. Also, dress up yourself nicely for the day. How are you now? Let me know. 🙂

Doom Para (neighborhood)

  When I was reading Vasant Moon’s autobiography Growing Up Untouchable in India, I was reminiscing about an untouchable community beside my own neighborhood. The name of my neighborhood is “Moulovi Para.” There are another four neighborhoods around my own neighborhood, and in the west side of my neighborhood, there is a neighborhood of the untouchable people which is called “Doom Para.” The people of this community are known as “Doom.” Who are these dooms? Let me clarify.

From my childhood, I have been noticing that people of my community and other two communities hate the dooms. What’s their mistake? Their one and only mistake is that they were born in a caste called “Shudro.”  According to Hinduism, there are four castes of people, and “Shudro” is the lowest caste. There is a superstition followed by people years after years is that those people who are born in this lowest community might be  worst sinners in their previous lives, so in this rebirth, God has sent them in the lowest caste. As a result, they are considered as the impure people who are untouchable for the other people. If other Hindus touch them, it is believed that their caste will be impure, and their prayer will not be granted to the God (What a biased God!). However, I am not sure whether this superstition is true or false, but I heard about Hinduism from my family and neighbors.

Now, I want to share some of my own experiences with these people. The Doom Para is on the way of our school, and there is a shortcut road to the school through this neighborhood. It is needless to say that it was forbidden for us to go through the Doom Para, because they were untouchable. I can remember, when any man from Doom Para came to our neighborhood, naughty children used to irritate them saying slung languages. I can reminisce about the laundryman. Every time when he came to our house, he couldn’t enter. If any doom unfortunately entered into the house, my mother and my aunt used to sweep the floor of the whole house. There is a big pond in Doom para. One day my elder sisters and cousins went to swim there. One man from our neighborhood saw them, and he informed my uncle, who is very radical. As a result, my uncle punished my sisters and cousins ruthlessly. Can you imagine how much people hate the dooms?

Finally, I want to share one interesting thing. Most of these people maintain their livelihood as fishermen (Jailla as an inferior name), barbers, or laundrymen. Although people hate them, and don’t touch them, they eat fish caught by dooms, and go to the barbers and laundrymen as well. Isn’t it ridiculous????

Movie Analyzing: The Joy Luck Club

 I read the novel, The Joy Luck Club; I watched the movie, The Joy Luck Club. Although the movie is based on the novel The Joy Luck Club, I felt a quite different feeling after watching the movie. I know that it’s hard for the producer to portray the author’s feelings exactly in the movie; however, in this movie, the producer has made some changes that have influenced my mind differently.

            The most pathetic scene of the movie that watered my eyes is the death of Ying-Ying’s little baby. When I was reading this story in the novel, I didn’t feel so much sorrow because I thought it was her wise decision to abort the unborn child for revitalizing her own life. However, in the movie, I saw how Ying-Ying killed her son accidently when she was thinking of her bustard husband. I felt a strong pain for a mother. I think it’s the producer’s wise decision to change this scene because it’s more heart-touching than the idea of abortion.

            Two important things from the novel that the producer omitted is the story of “The Red Candle” and “The Moon Lady”. I think these are the most important things to show the audiences because these stories bear a great message of the gender discrimination stereotypes. These two stories also symbolize the old Chinese traditions.

            Finally, the producer portrayed the stories of the parables in the movie very wisely. We see the swan’s feather in Jing-Mei’s hand from the parable “Feather’s from a Thousand Li away.”` Also, when Rose says to her husband Ted that she was died 60 years ago taking opium, we find the idea of rebirth as it is portrayed in the parable “Queen Mother of the Western Skies”.

            In conclusion, in comparison to the novel, the movie shows happy endings for each of the daughter-mother’s story. However, some of the main themes of the novel such as emigration problem, language problem, superstition, and Chinese tradition are not clearly portrayed in the movie.

Love Is Learned

 

             There is a debate in our classroom- is love a learned phenomenon or natural phenomenon? Do we learn to love from our family, environment, or media, or it’s only a natural feeling? What do you think?

             Now, let’s discuss, love is learned or natural? My answer is –learned. A mother loves her child because from her environment she learns to love her own child. When an infant comes to her womb, she feels its touch in her body, and this feeling makes her to love her child. Now, my question is, are all mothers good mothers? There are thousands of mothers who abort their children; don’t they feel natural love for their unborn child?  They are compelled to abort their children because their circumstances do not favor them at that time, and they can’t feel love for the unborn child. Again, is the children’s love for their mothers’ is natural? What do you say about Jing-Mei and her mother’s love in the novel The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan? Jing-Mei didn’t feel any love for her mother when her mother was alive because she misinterpreted her mother’s behavior, and didn’t learn to love her. When she came to know about her mother’s story, she started to love her mother. Isn’t it learned?

              Let’s discuss about marital love. You love your husband because he is caring and sharing to you, and he also loves you for the same cause. Can you say that a husband’s love for his wife or a wife’s love for her husband is natural? If so, why does divorce happen? You are compelled to divorce your spouse when you find his or her character annoying. At that time, his or her behavior doesn’t teach you to love him.

            Moreover, why do you love your boyfriend or your best friend? The reason is that their loving attitudes teach you to love them in return. They teach you to open your eyes and hearts to feel the special feelings reserved inside of your heart. Personally, I didn’t learn romantic love from my family, and I don’t know how to make a relationship with a boyfriend. However, I feel love for an unknown and unseen man when I watch any romantic movie. I wish to have a boyfriend. Who teach me to feel such romanticism? Isn’t it the media?

           In conclusion, it’s clear that love is not natural; it’s a learned phenomenon, and  we learn to love some one from our family, environment, media, and social stereotypes.

Works Cited

Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. New York: Ballantine Books, 1989. Print.

 

Love Is Learned

                There is a debate in our classroom- is love a learned phenomenon or natural phenomenon? Do we learn to love from our family, environment, or media, or it’s only a natural feeling? What do you think?

               Now, let’s discuss, love is learned or natural? My answer is –learned. A mother loves her child because from her environment she learns to love her own child. When an infant comes to her womb, she feels its touch in her body, and this feeling makes her to love her child. Now, my question is, are all mothers good mothers? There are thousands of mothers who abort their children; don’t they feel natural love for their unborn child?  They are compelled to abort their children because their circumstances do not favor them at that time, and they can’t feel love for the unborn child. Again, is the children’s love for their mothers’ is natural? What do you say about Jing-Mei and her mother’s love in the novel The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan? Jing-Mei didn’t feel any love for her mother when her mother was alive because she misinterpreted her mother’s behavior, and didn’t learn to love her. When she came to know about her mother’s story, she started to love her mother. Isn’t it learned?

             Let’s discuss about marital love. You love your husband because he is caring and sharing to you, and he also loves you for the same cause. Can you say that a husband’s love for his wife or a wife’s love for her husband is natural? If so, why does divorce happen? You are compelled to divorce your spouse when you find his or her character annoying. At that time, his or her behavior doesn’t teach you to love him.

            Moreover, why do you love your boyfriend or your best friend? The reason is that their loving attitudes teach you to love them in return. They teach you to open your eyes and hearts to feel the special feelings reserved inside of your heart. Personally, I didn’t learn romantic love from my family, and I don’t know how to make a relationship with a boyfriend. However, I feel love for an unknown and unseen man when I watch any romantic movie. I wish to have a boyfriend. Who teach me to feel such romanticism? Isn’t it the media?

          In conclusion, it’s clear that love is not natural; it’s a learned phenomenon, and we learn love from our family, environment, media, and social stereotypes.