Indian Traditions-The Joint Family   relationships are not bussiness deals, women are not objects, but that is how women are treated through Indian “tradition.”                                                      I love and value my Indian culture, make time to go to India often, keep my family united through get togethers in India, trained four years in Kathak as a spiritual and culture dance practice and devotion to God, can read and write my native language Gujarati, and speak 4 languages, grew up fasting a week every year since I was 5 years old in the name of religion for being a woman, built a temple from scratch with my own hands buying wood as my devotion to God and my culture, travel to different parts of India and live and study different ethnic groups and religions within India from Islam to Christianity, to Buddhism, to Judaism, study my own spiritual guide the Bhagavad Gita, and consider God my best friend, and for years, hung a large Indian flag in my room, but some orthodox Indian practices shock me. I am all about family as I care for my parents and am breadwinner, but I needed to do this as women are seen as subpar in today’s generation. Son in laws are given status of king or God, while daughter in laws are treated like maids. The woman’s family treats the SIL as jamai raja aka king son in law, while the girl is well just defined by how much she cooks, how well she cooks, how she cleans, massages in laws feet, and obeys her husband. A woman, her friends, family, are not important. They pay dowry, even if illegal, which it is. Their biggest investment, their own blood, their heart, their daughter is to serve wishes of her male partner and his parents per tradition. They give jewelry and money, pay for lavish weddings, for their daughter as per tradition, woman’s family is to bow down to man’s family. In this progressive society, this still exists sadly. Per tradition, man would never move for a woman, but a woman gives up her whole life for a man to not even leave his parents’ house. How is this even ethical. Luckily, I have strong male role models such as my brother and male friends who treat their wives and wives’ friends and family as their equals. My brother who moved for his wife, a strong, intelligent, lovely woman. My friends who did that for their partners or met half way. I am proud to have strong role models, men and women. I also know how some traditions are…            another one:       another one:    to be continued…   more research that validates real life examples    In many instances, these structures worked in past. Often times, when a woman loses herself and her identity to transform unless major sacrifices are made from everyone. Or she has no other family around or is imported from out of country and totally dependent. In traditional ways though, the man is always right. A woman is just a housewife for that is her value. I see so many women suffer and put up with abuse. Why? Support your families, but do not be a slave. It is beautiful and so important to care for our parents, and even have them move in with adult children years later, especially in ill health or financial crisis, after retirement, but it is a two way street, unlike the way Indian the way Indian traditional system operates. I see my parents as my responsibility and love them more dearly than my life, but because I am a woman, tradition dictates my priority is to be give up my being and ties to be a submissive housewife and daughter in law. If a woman is willing to leave her parents and hometown for a new life with a man, it is only ethical and equal for both parties to meet half way or find middle ground. A man’s career is not more important than a woman’s, and vise versa. It is about equality. Woman are taught to compromise and sacrifice; men are not. Good men do though because they respect their partners as equal, like my brother and male friends, colleagues, father. A woman is not wild or bold for having an opinion on how she wants to live the life God gave her, and a man is not less of a man for being sensitive, showing emotions, cooking, or respecting his female partner. A strong independent and intelligent woman will want a life partner, not a man with a large bank account or properties. Money will never interest a wise woman, for she will work her butt off to feed her family and make a living with her brains and hard work. A strong woman will want her equal, and Indian traditions and most joint family systems brainwash men and women into gender stereotypes and roles to prevent both man, and woman, from reaching their potential in life. Time, trust, and respect, three things money cannot buy. Women are not replaceable table mats or play dough that the joint family traditional system sees as. Men are not machines who do not have emotions. Humans are humans, plain and simple. Joint families explicitly, or inexplicability, control the woman, and that is in no way shape or form acceptable or OK. Learn to say NO and walk away. The ones that do not, are rare and often involve major sacrifices, boundaries, open-mindedness, and changes, from every one, which very traditional or orthodox beliefs do not leave room for open-mindedness. Do not let your future generations be impacted by closed mindedness. Be the man, or woman, that you want your future generation to have values of. Do not let tradition dictate your role as a woman. Do you really want your child to grow up seeing how all decisions were controlled by the father and paternal grandparents only, to give up her career to move countries or states for the man, or to have no hobbies, friends, or dreams. Is that how you want your daughter to imagine her future? Is that how you want to teach your daughter that it is OK for a man to use you for time pass or back up option for months while he is open to new “better” girls or romantic interests. Or how he cannot make time to see you until it is convenient for him, not you, and when with you, is on his phone. Is that how you want your daughter to think is acceptable for a man to treat her, and is that how you want your son to treat a woman? Calling or preferring to women “chicks” as adult men, not teenagers shows how much “respect” some men really have for women.

Is that how you want your son to refer to girls, or your daughter to be another “chick” who could not satisfy male ego. Traditional joint family system instills that in a man, it is not about equal partnership or respect for a woman and her time, instead it is about locking down a daughter in law whose education and career, hobbies, goals, talents, are all just to look good on paper, and expects her to be a different person. Any healthy family or relationship has boundaries of respect, equality, privacy, and trust, and most joint families, at least the traditional ones, do not allow that as the man is king, and woman is questioned “why are you going on your business trip or furthering your education, or moving for a job more suitable for your career growth, or traveling with your friends, a girls’ trip, and not me?” A man is never questioned those things. He is supported, always. A man can leave his pregnant wife to new mom of infants to go on guys’ trips with friends, party, business trips and work 24/7 away from home without question, and woman will step up to plate and take care of everything as that is how women are conditioned. Women, on the other hand, are not to have independent or personal lives or career lives outside of their joint families aka husband and his parents. If a man is too “busy” with work and more work or professional opportunities, and therefore has not time for his partner or children, it is acceptable as he is conditioned to be “making money for his family, what a Greek God!” If a woman stays late for work to help others, or out of necessity or takes up extra hobbies, she is seen as why isn’t she making gourmet meals or spending extra time with the kids. It is a two way street and equal compromise, and Indian joint families most often do not allow that or respect that. Joint families dictates everything from when and what food one eats, to clothes one wears, to names of children, how they are raised, to every major decision. A woman put a stone on her heart to move away from her aging, ill, and dependent parents to create a new life with her spouse, then why are men conditioned to think they cannot or should not? It goes both ways.

In today’s day and age, when it is so important to live on alone and learn independence, start your own life, which is why people move out for college, or work, or travel, some people never have lived a day alone in their life managing their own home. I make it a point that even when I am traveling long term, like in the past, I did my own laundry, by hand, or machine if available, cooked or prepared my own food instead of eating out all the time, and budgeted wisely, often living on less than $15 a day including lodging/hostel/air bnb/hotel. I had made it a point to live alone from my parents for personal growth, independence, and managing everything on my own. Personal Growth is so important.

It is the 21st century, not 1900s where women had no say in career or education, family planning, or lifestyle, especially when they are so educated and career oriented too. I managed to travel the world while working full time and being a full time grad student in the past, I made time. I no longer have patience for people who use time or money as an excuse, definitely not wasting my time. In laws have no right to decide how a daughter in law lives her life or her kids. This is not 1800s of uneducated people. Some people are trained in Pediatrics and hold 7 years of college education and 7 years of nursing education taking care of the sickest children and families, guiding parents how to raise their children from pregnancy, newborns, to adolescents through well child checks and sick visits. Anyone who undervalues your education or opinion, is not worth it. Blind faith is called blind faith for a reason. It is one thing to be spiritual, and another to be practical and look at safety and well being of the humans being involved. Health is emotional, mental, and physical well being, not just physical. Joint families rob women of all of this. Every woman dreams of buying her own house with her spouse for her children to grow up in, and it is their own filled with memories and love. In today’s generation, women earn just as much if not more than men, and can finance the house on their own too, yet in joint families, women’s opinion do not matter, or not taken seriously as elders and men always come 1st, at least not in “traditional” families.


The biggest tabboo, women cannot wear shorts and tank top without shaving her legs, or with shaven legs, for what will her father in law or brother in law think in 100 degree weather. Oh but it is her own house, no? She has no shame! Oh she has her period, that is why she is cranky, because she is in pain, and fatigued, but no, she is lazy (if she needs extra sleep or rest) and dirty (because she is bleeding, can men bleed 5 days in a row and go to work? I think not. Women do all the time. We use put a tampon in or wear a pad.) because she is undergoing a natural process called menstruation. It is anything but dirty or impure, as if a woman’s ovaries did not release eggs into the uterus through the fallopian tubes to be implanted on the endometrium, well the sperm would have never been able to fertilize the egg to create a human being. That is how all humans are created and born. When egg does not get fertilized, because you know, women do not walk around getting pregnant every month, the uterine lining aka endometrium sheds through hormonal changes which cause PMS symptoms including severe abdominal and pelvic pain in some women, and that is bleeding every month. It is the egg and the tissue that nourishes the egg waiting for it to be fertilized or giving it support if it is turns into an embryo. Joint families and blind faith or orthodox traditions stem from lack of education and respect for women. Women are told not to pray, touch the temple, do any ceremonies, or partake in celebrations, etc etc.. I work my life to break these taboos including my 6 month volunteering with NGOs in Gujarat India from 2012-2013. I empowered young women and girls, educated them on their bodies. Why would I let a joint family discriminate me exactly what I strive to break discrimination about with other women who look up to me. Someday, the elders in the joint family would try to dictate how I raise my children. Grandparents guide, parents decide. They do not get to tell my girl child to be ashamed of her body, or boy child that he cannot cry or play with dolls if he wants. Unfortunately, I see this all the time with joint families.  So proud to see how far India has come in ways with menstruation, yet some families still practice this discrimination.

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