This Navratri, I started thinking about the cultural basis of the holiday we all know and love. As a second-generation diasporic desi, my journey of learning about and coming to terms with my culture has been interesting, to say the least. My family didn’t celebrate Navratri when I was growing up, so the whole holiday, garba and all, was new to me when I came to college.
This year, celebrations of Navratri and Dusshera inspired me to learn more about the religious underpinnings of these holidays. However, my examination of the Ramayana did not go as planned, and I found a lot of really sexist, problematic elements. (Disclaimer: Though I come from a Hindu family and was brought up as a Hindu, and I don’t mean this as a jab at anyone or anyone’s religion. I also want to acknowledge that Hinduism does not encompass all of desi culture, and I definitely don’t want to contribute to the erasure of religious or caste minorities in this narrative.That being said, I would like to discuss some facets of Hinduism that I find particularly problematic as a woman.)
“To get a new passport in India it takes at least 3 months and a signature of your father or husband.”
“[W]omen’s personal freedom has been curtailed in the name of safety.”
Sangeeta Sarkar is a graduate student in bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. She’s interested in feminism, racial justice, diaspora and radical politics. When she’s not in the lab or the library, you can find her exploring her West Philadelphia neighborhood, reading about feminism or snuggling with her cat.