Head of the family..?Who deserves to be the head of the family; when the father is gone

In these covid times, we have all seen unfortunate times with loved ones struggling and succumbing to this monstrosity of a disease. Recently, I lost a relative to corona. And with that followed the ceremonies that traditional archetypes have imposed on us. One such ceremony that I witnessed was the “Pagdi” ceremony. For those of you that are not Indian, it is a ceremony wherein if a family loses the father, then the son is coronated  as the head of the family.

I am sure most of you would have already spotted the absurdity smeared across this ceremony within the explanation of the ceremony itself.

But I will still take the opportunity to say it out aloud. 

  1. Just because the family loses a father, does that leave the mother with no identity ? A woman who was just robbed of her husband, is now being told by virtue of explicit actions in the presence of relatives that now she has no contribution to make to this family. Despite being the eldest surviving member of the family, she has lost the right of heading the family, to her son. Mind you, a parent will always remain a parent, regardless of how old the children become. So how and why must the child surpass the rights of the mother to head the family in the absence of the father. My earlier blogs also shout out the similar message: I am of the view that a house becomes a home with the contribution of 2 individuals (husband and wife) that contribute to making it so. This title of “head of the family” cannot be dependent on financial criteria or gender. So why would this ceremony be justified in today’s day and age.
  2. Not only does the right slip right over the mother, it also disregards the age amongst the siblings and goes right to the male gender. Again, why ? what qualifications does the male gender possess that an elder daughter and sister is incapable of holding ? In fact, more often than not, it is women that end up holding the family together and ensuring that the familial ties remain woven intrinsically. So why disregard a daughter and sister completely. Although, I wouldn’t shy away from saying that there are families where I think the elder sons or daughters may be disastrous and even worthless to this title. But then, I would consider that subjective. Therefore, in my view, if at all, one needs to take solace in announcing a name that the family can rely on, seek advice and support from, when both the parents are gone, it needs to be a well thought through decision. The ceremony is meant to bestow honor and respect on an individual and also places immense faith in the ability of that person to wade storms with the family and sometimes even, for the family. So then, how can it be a one size fits all formula. Mere gender or age cannot be the criteria for this title that is meant to be more than just words. Always know, that traditions that made sense in a given era, may not suit or fit in with the needs of today. Traditions need to be questioned often enough for us to realize whether they still hold relevance or they need to be reassessed. If we lug ourselves along like herd mentality, then we have little hope for the future. Pay heed to your actions, they matter. Blindfolded actions and steps in the name of tradition, yield no results and have zilch significance. Absence of empty ceremonies such as these are better than mindless ceremonies that are spreading archaic and outdated messages that demean the identities of many in the bargain.

Published by oberoimehak

Full time mother and overworked lawyer who likes to spend the 25th hour mulling over life, spirituality, parenthood, relationships and other creative pursuits that crack its way through her over enthusiastic brain. Follow me if feminism, women empowerment, spirituality or just the basic dogmas imposed by the society; intrigue you.

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