By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2021-09-27 14:04:39
A needless controversy has been generated over the new (and beautifully done) Mohey ad featuring Alia Bhatt as a dulhan who questions the outdated notions of a beti being paraya dhan - she questions the logic of beti being both paraya and dhan and a chiriya whose dana pani will now be at her sasural, as if her father's home is not her home. Hindutva elements are in rage because in the end, she also questions kanyadaan but finds understanding in-laws who join in the ritual for her to be happily proclaiming that it is a new idea - kanyamaan.
But after repeated viewing of the ad, one is at a loss to understand how it goes against Hindu traditions or Hinduism? It just questions the old custom of treating the girl-child as paraya or outsider who is in her father's home until she is married and even in that, she is given away as daan or donation. But nowhere in the ad does she say that the ritual should be abolished. She just asks for parents to think whether it is right to think of girls as paraya dhan to be given away by way of kanyadaan. She just demands that there should be maan or respect for the girl. Hence, she is happy when the groom's parents join in the ritual making it a bond between the two families instead of it being a one-sided ritual of the bride's parents giving her away to the groom.
As the rituals are there for ages, so are these feminist, but extremely logical and relevant, views. Girls are not commodities. They have equal rights in the home where they were born and in the home where they stay with their husbands. Anything else is not the Hindu way of thinking. It is the patriarchal way. This age-old thinking that turns a girl into a commodity should be abandoned. Self-styled guardians of the Hindu religion should not take umbrage at the ad. There are many evils plaguing the institution of marriage - the practice of dowry, for instance. If they really have the good of Hinduism at heart, they should go after those evils to rid Hinduism of bad influence. Giving maan to a girl will elevate the religion, not demean it.