Kanjak is an ancient Hindu Festival that is rooted in uplifting young unmarried girls to the innate status of Goddesses according to the Hindu tradition. It affirms the idea that daughters are the reincarnation of Goddess Laxmi and are destined to bring luck and prosperity to the family they are born into. Like most young girls, this was also one of my favourite festivals because the entire day consisted of strangers in the Temple giving my friends and I money and food under the impression that our innate status would provide them with prosperity and luck for the future. However, the effect of this begins to wear off the older you get; after the age of 14/15, you are no longer considered to be a Goddess, apart from in the eyes of your Father, of course. So yes, I effectively expect my Dad to annually pay me for being an unmarried young girl. I mean; I don’t have a brother so I can’t exploit the males in my family into giving me money during Rakhi, making Kanjak my only time to shine. Although, I wonder if it’s wise to enforce attributes such as lucky and prosperous onto female sproggs and call them innate, especially when those attributes have prevailed to be worthless in modern day society until her name is associated with a man. A notion that could be considered as ironic, because the status of women once meant goddess, but now it has been reduced to wife. A title that can still be considered as empowering and beautiful, but often that fails to be the case.
Recently I read an article on Instagram that made the following sweeping statement: ‘our Mothers come from a generation that were unhappy with their husbands’ because their marriage was based on the fairness of their skin; a university degree accompanied with the reluctance to pursue a career and her ability to cook. So if we know this is a failed system, why are these women ensuring that their daughters follow the same procedure?
Moreover, It could be argued that South Asian culture affirms the idea that women in their 20s are expected to spend the next few years preparing for marriage; but is it really fair to expect young women to devote the next few years of their life to a man they have never even met yet? Surely the most important thing a 20 something could do is embark on their journey in their chosen career, but instead, some women are made to feel like a disappointment because of her lack of interest towards cooking and home decor. Furthermore, we could also try and move away from the idea that a successful marriage is based on whether your wife knows how to cook or not.
My mother taught me how to cook with the affirmation that feminism will not help me out when I am hungry. However, now that I can successfully feed myself without dying of food poisoning, I can’t help but wonder that if I happened to be a boy, the cooking lessons would have stopped after I learnt how to boil rice. It is a common stereotype that women enjoy cooking and are innately good at it, but Sridevi famously said, ‘When men cook food, it’s art… but when women cook, it’s their duty,’ making his artwork worthy of applause and always making hers worthy of appraisal.