Friday, April 4, 2008

A conspiracy of silence and tradition

In my daily interactions with people in the villages, I find one aspect very strange and inexplicable, and I am putting a point of view that no one has hitherto subscribed to.

As part of our traditions, as it is not prescribed in religion, we have a ‘magula’ when a daughter attends age. It is a fearful time for any family, not a ‘magula’ to look forward to. My maid is dreading the day her daughter attends age, as she has no means to incur the cost, and will inevitably have to get into debt, pawning what little she has got left to pawn.

Death is another area, where the funeral costs are exorbitant, and in villages this is mitigated by the ‘death assistance committee/club’ that is set up to provide funds for it. However the 7th day almsgiving (hath davasa dana) and the 3month almsgiving (thun masa dana) and one year almsgiving,(avurudda pinkama) are costs families have to bear.

To those who are not aware of this, what happens is that in a village, the whole village attends these, and they have to be provided with food, refreshment and in some cases a lot of alcohol. I have been invited to many of these in the villages, and they insist that I be present, it is a matter of honor for them that I attend. Our traditional contribution is a packet of biscuits and a kilo of sugar, which does not begin to scratch the surface of the cost.

I attended a ‘magula’ recently in Giritale, and poor girl had this ‘nanawa’ where she is bathed and brought out, does not know what is happening and does not understand all this as it is a psychologically traumatic period for her. The policeman father had three bottles of arrack on each 5 person round table laid out in the yard, with venison (illegal) for bites and other eats. God knows how much he spent and how much unaccounted bribes he took to fund this, but at least he may have had a better chance of finding the wherewithal. Most villages get into serious debt to fund these events and feel it their duty to do so as it otherwise would be a matter of shame if they are unable to throw a real party.

The cynic in me feels it is a further ploy by the village ‘mudalali’ moneylender of last resort, to completely subjugate other villagers into perpetual debt, poverty and hopelessness. There has got to be proportionality


fairsquareSLK said...

Thanks for the write-up; I thought ordinary us get bankrupted only throwing wedding parties. This is bad, people must change, should let go traditions if they are ruinous. People in the UK and USA have reformed themselves of a lot of this kind of things – I hope the unbearable economy will train the people to be modest. No comments on the poor cop. Kirthie

aljuhara said...

your reports from the village are so evocative , I can clearly picture the sceans. thanks for letting us share in all this!.