Modern Status Symbols
One of the most remarkable contributions of the western way of life to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is the ever-thinning line of demarcation between the widows, divorcees and wives. Emphasis on beauty, fashion and plastic surgery has also helped in the transformation. Gone are the days when a widow, clad in spotless white – a…
One of the most remarkable contributions of the western way of life to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is the ever-thinning line of demarcation between the widows, divorcees and wives. Emphasis on beauty, fashion and plastic surgery has also helped in the transformation. Gone are the days when a widow, clad in spotless white – a picture of serenity and dignity – sat at the highest pedestal in the household, at least Muslim household. She would dispense justice among the fighting children and the elders would seek her advice on important issues.
Because of certain un-enviable traditions, we still have traditional widows – but with a difference – who are not supposed to attend the marriages and other happy events in the family, because their very being, their very presence is supposed to be curse-causing and inauspicious.
There is a village, Hirnauti, technically in UP, bordering Delhi. Widows, young widows abound here. The reason behind their widowhood is their late husbands’ moustaches and moustaches of their husbands’ killers. Tradition forbids these widows to pronounce their or their late husbands’ names. Loneliness is their only companion. They are not allowed to work outside their homes. The question of facing the camera does not arise. Otherwise, elders of the village would reprimand them. Long running family feuds, bedrocked on personal enmities, have forced these widows to allow their children to flee their village. Otherwise they too would be liquidated as “the young one of a snake is also a snake”. For this reason those who leave their family never revisit their homes. For a proper appreciation of the condition rather plight of widow, you will have to pay a visit to Varanasi and Haridwar.
The other side of the picture in our cosmopolitan cities is that now widowhood carries a premium. So does divorcement. To quote a widow socialite, who does not want to be named, both are status symbols as “they feel attracted more towards them to virgins.” Explaining her view, she asked: One who pays his or her income tax regularly makes headlines or one whose house is raided by the Income Tax officials?
Films and fashion shows are fast blurring the line not only between the widows and virgins, nay non-virgins, but also between the sexes, i.e. men and women. Unisex is, or is soon likely to be the buzz word. Thus a level field has been provided to eunuchs also.
Men sporting long hair (read tresses) necessitating a pony-tail or bun is old story. The latest is men wearing what they would have laughed at till recently. A model, who recently walked the ramp for Rohit Bal during the India Men’s Fashion Fair, 2007 in Bangalore, was spotted wearing a nose ring. No barely-visible stud this one, but a large ring with a loop to his hair, and tiny bells that brushed against his cheeks as he walked. It goes without saying that till date strange-on-men ear-rings and naval studs are likely to become familiar-on-men in the near future. Nothing is weird now. Argument? Have not the mythological gods and kings of the yore been wearing heavy jewellery? When this logic was trotted out, I found myself dumb and wished I had been deaf also.
But still woman in our subcontinent is far behind her British counterpart. An English lady, according to the latest survey done by “Wait”, looks in the mirror 71 times a day while men check their face 27 times on an average.
There is enormous emphasis on what they call perfect 10 body. Her “dress” must go with her nose, while his “sherwani” must be complimented by his chiselled torso. Nip and tuck are essential for the marrying couple. Today nose-lift costs Rs.25,000 and Rs.45,000, lip correction Rs.10,000 to Rs.15,000; fat removal Rs.90,000 and 60,000; and the Editor would reduce me to pulp if I dare to mention augmentation of the last item also.