Sanskaar- term that has undergone so many additions, interpretations and misconcenceptions through many discourses and debates all across in India. The erosion of values, lack of morality, increasing rapes, parties, drugs, religious riots, problems in educational system- everything is blamed on sanskaar. What is sanskaar for the contemporary popular culture in India? In serials, the fair and pencil shaped barbie doll bahu who covers her forhead with her sari, worships her husband, kids, in laws and every other person in her house is considered sarva guna sampanna and sanksaari. While a party going, educated and outspoken person would become a social taboo and ‘asakaari’ or rather a product of ‘Western culture’. But that is all talked about a lot. Last day, I found an interesting connotation to sanskaar- IGNORANCE AND BASHFULNESS.
A typical Anu Aunty of our neighbourhood who often offers her lecture on sanskaar fired a diatribe on us last day and she slipped something really interesting. “My daughter is so sanskaari. She was so shy to tell me that she was pregnant. That is how I brought her up.” I found the statement funny yet outrageous. Why would a daughter feel shy to disclose the awaited good news to her mother? Come on, it is her mother, one of the most important women in her life who would know this news inevitably. But then again, I remembered that the evergreen hit DDLJ taught us the same truth ages ago. Remember how happy Amrish Puri was when Kajol quietly slipped to her room when her father announces her wedding and he triumphantly says to his wife “I have kept Punjab alive. My daughter gets shy in front of her father.”
But it is not just about bashfulness. It is about ignorance as well. Many mothers and fathers boast that their kids do not even know what is pornography. Fortunately many kids have become way more smarter than their parents think they are, but what about the others? What about the ‘good girls’ who never raise their voice? Even the word ‘porn’ is a slang word for them that they use the term ‘bad movies’ or even a bolder statements like ‘sexually explicit movies’. Even to know about homosexuality and sexual diseases is a sin that the moment you pop up a question on them to your Biology teacher who teaches Reproductive System- the whole atmosphere changes. Gasps, stares and silence. Teachers might explain it but only after eyeing you suspiciously. Some might even ask you “How did you know about these things? In which site did you read this term?” If you ask something regarding safe sex, contraception or condoms then it would be even more funny. The ostracising tag of ‘asanskaari’ would be looming around you like a beeline.
When does this become a problem? Think about the many small town girls who find it shameful to discuss sex related topics even with their close girl friends. Women (mostly from lower class) even in this metro city have to resort to countless vrats to stop their husbands from forcing them to have sex. They are unaware of contraceptive methods like condoms because it is so wrong to talk or know about those matters. For many people who are barely educated the source of sex education is their religious authorities who would assert that a husband has the right to have sex with his wife and she cannot deny him. Think about number of girls who would feel insecure and guilty about having sex or denying consent to their boyfriends. Priya Jason who recently spoke about the sexual abuse her father inflicted on her as a child, told that she did not know initially that her father was abusing her. He used to sleep beside her while she wore just her underwear. Even worse, can you imagine women who never knew their vaginas and urethras were different? But believe they exist. Enough about girls. What about boys? Men discuss these topics relatively more than women but often they end up making irrational and fallacious mistakes. A guy is expected to be virile and get physical in any relationship because it is the part of his manhood. If he does not show particular interest in sex he would be insulted amongst his friends. Men who believe that women are polluted during periods and they would leak all the way is not uncommon. No wonder Rupi Kaur’s photo showing her menustrating on instagram was removed because it was considered indesent and inappropriate by sexist patriarchs includin women and men.
When one asks questions regarding sexuality to elders, a child often get the reply- “You would understand when you are old enough. ” But this statement seems illogical. Noone gets to know things on their own when they grow up. They have to be educated through proper courses. We do not get to know about a problem unless we name and discuss it. And by this ‘sanskaarification’ we are even defying the articulation of issues. The construction of this myth around sex has become a serious problem in India. So let us speak about sex. Educate about sex. It does not make you great not to know about sex. Seriously, if a person never knew how he/she was born, it would be stupid not sanskaari. I am reminded of the video by East India Comedy on Sex Education in India. And I would like to conclude with the last sentence of the video- Sex is not a sin. Ignorance is.By- Anna GeorgeMA English, St. Stephens College, DU