Patna, March 6 (IANS) Here a little story of women's defiance of tradition and "changing the mindset of men" from a Bihar village ahead of International Women's Day.
Mania, about 150 km from here in Buxar district, has been following a novel tradition for the last three decades - of Hindu girls wearing the 'janeu' or sacred thread, which is otherwise the preserve of Brahmin men, to overcome gender and religious bias. Not only that, the 'janeu sanskar' ceremony at which the sacred thread is worn is being regularly held for these girls.
"This three-decade old tradition has an interesting story. Vishwanath Singh, had set up a girls school in Mania village in 1972, at a time when women were discouraged from joining school. Undaunted, he started sending his four daughters to school, which encouraged and inspired others to follow suit. After that, Vishwanath Singh held the thread ceremony for his elder daughter. Later this practice was adopted by others and became a tradidition in the vilage." Sidheshwar Sharma, a social activist, told IANS.
Meera Kumari, the girl who began the practice, said that she and her three sisters still wear the sacred thread. "Wearing the janeu is a symbol that we are no less important than men," Meera Kumari, a school teacher, said.
According to Sharma, the tradition has made the village famous for promoting education of girls and spreading awareness against female foeticide.
"Even this year, the 'janeu sanskar' ceremony was held for class 10 students Nisha Kumari and Prinka Kumari in the village," he added. More than two dozen girls in the village wear the saccred thread and attend school.
"This tradition among girls has changed the mindset of men in the village, who never dare to discriminate against women." Sharma pointed out.
This sacred thread signifies the transition from boyhood to manhood.
(Imran Khan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)