Monday, 31 October 2016

The Life of a Typical Gujarati Girl

India is known for its diversity, and just like there are different cultures, languages, regions and religions in our country, there are diverse lifestyles in our country. So, here is an insight into the life of a typical Gujarati girl, living in a typical Gujarati society. While being a Gujarati girl includes being a part of a large and loving family, celebrating every festival with the greatest pomp and preparations and knowing almost every Gujarati person in your town, it also entails a life full of trying to fit into the moulds made by the society.


As far as studies are concerned, there is a Gujarati rule, according to which the subject choice and the stream choices are taken on the basis of grade 10 marks. Those prodigies who score exceptionally well, have the whole textbook by heart, are considered to be live encyclopaedias and are basically good at every important subject (read as; maths, computer and science) have to take up science. Further subject choices within the science stream are taken on the basis of gender. If it’s a boy he usually is expected to take Physics, Chemistry, Maths and get into engineering (though some boys might be given the privilege to choose whether they want to take maths or biology, simply because they’re males and they thus have the power to rule the world), while a girl has to take up Physics, Chemistry, Biology and get into medicine.

Now, coming to the second category of students- these are the people who are average scorers, but are street smart rather than book smart. These people are expected to take up commerce and then become chartered accountants or businessmen. Those students who fit into neither of these two categories and are thus completely useless and are expected to either take up arts or quit studying altogether. But this is the general scenario. While some parents take the education of their daughter seriously, others might simply not care, saying that the daughter is someone else’s “treasure”.


As far as a Gujarati family is concerned, if the career of a girl is ever considered, there are very few career options. These options include owning a “beauty parlour”, teaching, making and selling Gujarati snacks, etc. Careers like that of a CEO, cabin crew, soldier, manager, etc. are not even considered. The statement that is heard inevitably in these kinds of discussion is When your husband earns enough, why would you want to go out and work? You should instead stay at home and take care of your husband and his family. After all, if the wife goes out and works, who will take care of the husband’s comfort when he comes home, tired after a day’s “real” work? Moreover, even if the female is allowed to work, she is not allowed to take up late night shifts or business tours and she is denied promotions that would entail that she would have less time for the family.


What did you say your age was, lady? 18? 20? 30? 70? Well, you clearly missed the part where I said that nobody cares. And when I say nobody, I mean absolutely nobody. No matter how old (and how much ever responsible) you are, your opinions and decisions will not be accrued any importance except in exceptional cases. By exceptional cases, I refer to situations involving the colour of your nail paint, or other such trivial matters.


If you’ve ever been a part (or an audience) of a Gujarati conversation, you’ll know what I mean when I say that for Gujaratis, a girl’s whole life revolves around marriage, from the most trivial to the most important life changing decisions. I can almost remember my aunt telling a seven-year-old me to not colour my hair purple because all the eligible bachelors apparently wouldn’t want to marry a girl marry a girl who has purple hair. Mind you, it’s not just about hair colour, it is about the way that girls are groomed from their very childhood to behave and think like a typically calm, docile and obedient wife.


Life is and has always been about getting our priorities straight. In accordance with this, we take the task of prioritising our life very seriously. From her very birth, a girl is always told about how one day, she will have to be somebody’s wife, somebody’s daughter-in-law and somebody’s sister-in-law, and that day, her new family would have to be her first priority and how she should be careful about her behaviour, because her conduct will ultimately reflect her parents’ character.

While all of these might be true for a typical Gujarati society, the recent times have brought a fresh breath and today, some girls have the fortune of being born into pretty liberal circumstances. Let’s hope that as time passes, we are able to make the society more liberal towards females, while holding tightly to the charm and most importantly, the warmth of a Gujarati society.

Written by Aneri Doshi
What makes my heart race? Books, Coffee and Rain

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