Dashain Blessings, Piku, and The Day of the Girl Child

By Rhijuta Dahal/ @RizDh

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Photo Credit: Piku Poster

After taking a few days off, buying train tickets months in advance, I realised last weekend my Dashain was likely to be blocked. Ahhh, the perks of being born a girl in a Nepali Brahmin family. However, having not seen my family in months, I decided to trek to the colder and rainier part of England.

On 11 October, Tuesday, a day before Dashain Tika, marked a day of the Girl Child. Being born in a Nepali family, I know I am extremely fortunate to be where I am. I got a good education, I was allowed to make my own decisions when it came to what I study, my career, and I can make my own decision when it comes to when I want to get married and who I get married to. I rarely get told  what to wear/not wear, where I live, and most importantly, where I go. My freedom means everything to me, but I am aware that a lot of females in Nepal and other countries are stopped or questioned and coerced into making a decision because of their loyalty to their family and society. I came across this video which shows the challenges women face across the world, at times, stopping women from reaching their potential.

What surprises me about gender equity in our society is how often people believe that women are the weaker sex. Women need looking after, they are often seen as besahara when single, which often reminds me of the song I came across called ‘Afnai Sansar Ma Kina’ by Albatross. One of our family friends was talking about his daughter and he was very surprised to how brave she was. The reason he was surprised by this was because she was a girl. I couldn’t help wonder how many men and women in Nepal /Nepali society think the same. Thinking about it, there’s been numerous conversations where my mother has hinted/said that I might be all alone in future because I am not married. What’s ironic about this is that the same society worships Durga and other Devis.

Independent, strong women are rarely a role model in our society. They are often portrayed as someone whose life is incomplete in media. Bollywood and I have had a very old relationship and with time it had gone sour. I grew up in the 90s when watching old movies on Saturday afternoons was an event. These movies often revolved around a family with a daughter-in-law who was a great maid in the house and would sacrifice everything for her husband. In 90s Bollywood it was more about courting, but again, if the ‘heroes’ weren’t stalking to get their girls, the ‘heroines’ were often portrayed as damsels in distress. When I sat down to watch Piku, I was ready for the more recent, more ‘modern’ Bollywood, but I was definitely not expecting it to have a strong female lead. What I loved even more about the film was how it didn’t give any focus to marriage.

By the end of the film, I admired how strong Deepika Padukone’s character was. I admired how respectful Amitabh was of women and how they should be heard (in one scene, where his brother’s wife speak and her husband tells her not to butt in, he tells him that she should be heard). I loved how a woman’s character wasn’t judged by her sexual freedom. And in the end, when Piku’s father dies, Piku doesn’t break down like the women from the 80s, 90s and 2000s Bollywood, but she’s strong and handles it like how anyone of us would. It was so refreshing to see this in Bollywood. And just like Queen, I was very satisfied with how the film ended. Kudos to Bollywood for showing a relatable character in very mainstream media.
As Dashain ended, I did get a window of opportunity for my Tika and blessings. I no longer need to live as long as Drona, be as hardworking as Dasrath, or as intelligent as Bidur. We all know a woman’s life is incomplete in a Nepali society without a husband, especially a woman in her 30s, so with that in mind, my parents blessed me for my health.

2 thoughts on “Dashain Blessings, Piku, and The Day of the Girl Child

  1. Great read!
    I get told the same thing by my relatives and sometimes parents back home. That I am so brave to be living alone from a young age abroad, all by myself, whereas that would be a completely normal thing for a man of same age. I am in a long-term relationship that my parents know about but I haven’t been told or asked about marriage. I think a big part of it also depends on how young women carry out themselves, whether or not they have confidence in themselves and whether or not they can logically argue against all the unreasonable demands that society puts on us. I realize that it’s not easy, due to conditioning of girls from a young age. I have seen quite a few young women (educated, from cities) who have easily given in to the unreasonable demands from their parents and society without putting up any fight. Freedom for women surely doesn’t come easily in our society and that is very unfortunate.

  2. Richa says:

    I think sometimes the pressure is too hard to resist. The idea of being alone in any decision is scary, especially when there is no one to support you. I can totally see why some girls/women give into demands. It’s a hard thing to juggle one’s own needs and the needs of others. Good post!

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