TRADITION Versus SOCIAL CHANGE

Change is the universal law of nature.  Even Traditional practices, beliefs and customs undergo a gradual change. Social change occurs in all societies and at all times. No society remains completely static.

•    Sati is an ancient Hindu practice where the widow immolated herself on the funeral pyre of her husband. The ritual of sati was banned by the British Government in 1829 consequent to the relentless efforts of Sri Raja Ram Mohan Roy for which there was resistance in the beginning by a section of society. But now the abetment or glorification of sati is punishable offence under the law. 

•    Ancient Hindu Society widow re-marriage was considered as a sin because a widow was expected to mourn the death of her husband throughout her life. The Hindu Widows' Remarriage Act of 1856, was enacted in response to the campaign of Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. But still a section of orthodox citizens prevail in the societies who are strictly against the custom of a widow marrying again. Whatever this orthodox section of the society may think, one thing is for sure; modern India gives a widow the same status as it gives to any other woman and this is a matter of pride for all the citizens

•    Child marriage has been an issue in India for a long time. Because of its root in traditional, cultural and religious practises it has been a hard battle to fight. Efforts to stop this practice with law enforcement have been protested and challenged in courts by a section of society. Under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), 2006, the marriage between a man above 18 years of age with a woman below 18 years of age, is punishable.  Now there is a decline in the practice of child marriage. 

•    Untouchability is a menace and social evil associated with traditional Hindu society. It is being practiced since times immemorial and despite various efforts made by social reformers such as Dr. B. R. Ambedkar; and despite there being provision on abolition of untouchability in our Constitution under Article 17, the evil is still in practice in our country. It is hoped that “the wicked practice of untouchability would be removed from the society sooner and our country would usher into a new era of social equality and brotherhood which will be the tru India of Gandhi and Ambedkar”

•    Bettale Seve (nude worship) was one of the most exploitative caste-based religious practices in Karnataka. Various dalit organizations and leaders tried to raise awareness by initiating political process to get this practice banned for which there was resistance by a section of the society. Eventually in 1992, a ban was imposed on Bettale Seve.

•    “Made Made Snana”, commonly known as “Made Snana”, is the practice of devotees rolling over banana leaves with food left over by Brahmins. This takes place during the Shashti festival at some temples. The devotees rolling on the left-overs are mostly from the shudra and backward communities also comprising some middle and upper middle class. It is believed that the practice cures skin diseases, and also purifies them of the sins they might have committed. Made Snana has become a major issue in Karnataka with people from various sections condemning and protesting the ritual. The matter went upto the Supreme Court which imposed a ban on conventional Made Made Snana declaring it illegal. The imposition of a ban, however, has been challenged in the courts by a section of the community. A modified version known as "Ede Snana", in which devotees roll over "prasada" (food offered to the deity) [6] or consumed by cows[7] is still practised.[8]

•    The use and status of triple talaq in India has been a subject of controversy and debate. Those questioning the practice have raised issues of justice, gender equality, human rights and secularism. The Indian Supreme Court ruled instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddah) unconstitutional and directed  the government to ban the the use and status of triple talaq in India by enacting a law.[10]A section of the society  opposed the ban. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 was   passed in Lok Sabha and was pending in the Rajya Sabha . The Union Cabinet  passed the Ordinance to amend provisions of the Triple Talaq Bill which got President’s assent. According to the ordinance, giving instant Triple Talaq has been made illegal and void, and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband. Now the triple talaq is thing of the past.

•    In  2016, the Bombay High Court ruled that women could enter the sanctum sanctorum of Haji Ali Dargah of Mumbai.  The trust of the shrine informed the Supreme Court that women will be allowed to enter, accordingly now,  women of all sects go and pray there. 

•    Sabarimala is a Hindu Temple in Kerala,  where women pilgrims of menstruating age (ages 10 to 50) were not  allowed to enter and pray. Recently the country’s Apex court gave a landmark ruling in the Sabarimala case, allowing women of all ages entry into the temple, upholding the principle of equality enshrined in the constitution. 

However, it can be said that things are slowly changing; “The mind set of modern generation is also changing. Today’s youth with modern education and globalized outlook are viewing the social order from different perspective of equality and impartiality and not from the religious or traditional point of view.”

Dr.B.S.Sherigara;

Formr.Vice-Chancellor, Kuvempu University, Shivamogga


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