In her article contentious practices: a debate on sati in colonial India Lata mani is will try to check out the Bengal renaissance and its implication on women. She uses the word emblematic custom to denote women because the reworking of the traditions largely is performed through debating their position and right in their world. Nonetheless, women and her body and movement are something is the primary subject matter of the debates on authentic practices. The questions like what woman should wear, where woman should be, whether female ought to drink or smoke are still asked and clarified by traditions. But interestingly those debates are entirely centered around the middle and upper category women who should be safeguarding a nations tradition, but largely disregard the lower category women who ‘customarily’ beverages or smoking or wear a lunki and walk around. Radha kumar in her publication “history of doing” also critically talks about the much famous history of 19th century and says how, the 19th century reforms were mainly devoted to the urban upper caste women. She also demonstrates how such reforms possessed a negative impact on other neighborhoods, who possessed an completely different practice of certain customs. For example, he explains how the monthly bill on widow remarriage possessed a specific clause which classifies the house rights of an widow. If the house involves her from her husband’s family after the remarriage she was no longer allowed to keep it. But there were many areas who allowed the widows to keep her husband’s property even after remarriage. The bill had a poor impact on those communities which usually allowed widow remarriages. He also implies that, as the new bourgeoisie of Bengal exposed schools to educate women, that was mainly for changing them up to the standard of their international counter parts, and that led to the marginalization of popular form of traditional music and traditional platform of women’s entertainment. It curtailed the women’s space and expressions within the original set up.
Radha kumar locates the reform moves in a specific historical context, 19th century which is called as the ‘get older of female’. She also recognizes the role players of the reform movements, mainly the colonial rulers who were participating in a “civilizing mission”, then there is the existing prominent groups, who with the romance to the colonial routine started to be forged into a middle income or bourgeoisie. And the site of reform, or who have been to be reformed were the women, or the companies which is immediately related to women. This article mainly talks about the reform activities in Bengal and Maharashtra and covers the actions to abolish sati, child matrimony and age consent, movements for education and widow remarriage, the plan for factory legislation. In addition, it shows how towards the end of 19th century, the liberals and nationalists like Tilak and Tagore commenced an anti reform movements to reclaim the Hindu custom.
While this article mainly talks about the reform motions which took place in Maharashtra and Bengal, I came across it interesting to connect it with the 19th century reform moves in kerala, specifically of the reforms occurred on the list of Nayar community of Kerala, which has a long history of matrilineal kinship composition. Particularly because a lot of the literature which I was familiar with implicitly snacks patriliny as a normative standard. it also snacks the reforms in 19th century as a milestone in achieving keralas public change. (rewrite)
Matrilineal Tharavadu prior to the colonial rule was an entity were women acquired right to property and also decision making vitality unlike in patriliny where women possessed no long term stake either in her own home or in her husbands home. But then under the colonial guideline, the search of your responsible authority to settle matters under the changing agrarian romance and taxation, that ability was recinded from women, and substituted by the eldest male member of the tharavadu. but regarding to numerous of the female authors, who acquired the experiences of an tharavadu, even during colonial time, tharavadu offered women a sense of stableness and belongingness, which disappeared over time. Corresponding to Sharadamani’s publication on the transformation of matriliny in Kerala, the educated nayar men arrived forward requiring, reforms in matrimony, control and division of property and inheritance, over the last 1 / 4 of the 19th century. It becomes important to look at who were the main topic of this reform, who initiated reform, what exactly are the key legislations regarding this and to see the aftereffect of this reform on nayar women.
Who initiated reform?
The sociable reformers were typically young informed Nayar men of well to do tharavadus. Brahmins who had been in the top in the caste hierarchy were resilient to British education for a long time. Nayars and young Christians from the wealthy young families were the ones who actually utilised the chance of British education in this case. G. Arunima in her book “here comes papa; colonialism and the transformation of matriliny in Malabar” gives a merchant account of the nature of the training that they received. A couple of women also do receive British education but the public education in this era mainly trained women for local arts alternatively than professional work where the education which men received prepared them for professional work. For younger male reformers the impartibility of the tharavadu actually symbolized the dependency on karanavar. Within a book written in 1977 on ‘relationship and family in kerala’ Fr. J. Puthenkalam S J says how the nayars and Christians profited most by education and, how the successful fight of reform was lead by these informed (men) changing the design of relationship and family in Kerala.
These educated young men who read mainly Victorian books familiarized with a concept of family which contains father mother and children where the father performs the role of the head of the family and also the protector of better half and children. . Sharadamani in her book says “quoting the practice of civilized world they insisted on a man’s to bequeath his personal acquired wealth to his wife and children instead of his tharavadu, as was the practice under matriliny”.
Polygamy was seen as rampant, and divorce as a menace to the steady institution of relationship. Corresponding to G. Arunima “they egged each other onto agitate against the malpractice like exogamy and divorce, that led to the backwardness of the city. The call for reform was fond of men, who had been to rouse their manhood and organize”
For them the key aim was the creation of a new family based on conjugal love. But that which was lacking was a sense of individualism that was a main factor in constituting a nuclear family in western world.
Who were the main topic of reform?
Women, who have been s at the centre of matriliny and who also, got a civil and legal status independent of men. Some historical accounts suggests that even under the rule of a karanavar women got the right to divorce her man anytime and get back to her Natal home. She was always welcomed there and also possessed decision making power.
one of the major rite that they attacked was thalikettu kalyanam, which was an initiation service for females after they reach puberty. A thali was attached on her neck either by a Brahmin or by her mom. People from different Taravadus were asked and feasts received to all of these. The question develops, if their have difficulty was to get property right, why would they assault all the rites which is associated with matrilineal women? apart from the practice of Sambandham. So the attack was on the mother centered family form that they found different and humiliating from the sort of western model that they have read and researched. For the young nayar men, it was an enormous wastage of money where as for a nayar woman it is rite which celebrates her sexuality and also something which gives her some sort of expert.
What were the primary legislations which occurred?
Demand for ‘reforms’ in the customary procedures regarding marriage, property, and changes in the system of inheritance mainly emerged within the city, as described earlier from the educated teenagers. The focus of invasion was the Sambandham system of marriage. It was an attack from the immorality of the nayar women and their polyandrous sexuality. Relating to G. Arunima at the heart of the was a condemnation of matriliny. The cry up against the ‘promiscuous polyandry’ and the ‘barbarous former’ argued for a fresh community centered monogamous marriage and conjugal co dwelling.
One of the key legislation was the Malabar relationship work of 1896, which provided an aid to the ‘natural progress and good morals’. It also identified the divorce rules. ‘a girl could demand maintenance from her husband only so long as she remained hindu, continue chaste, didn’t remarry or commit adultry’
The second one was the ‘madras marumakkathayam action’ of 1933 which abolished the joint family and the collective right to property.
What was the impact of these reforms on women
While men were talking about reform and legislation, no women’s words were taken into account or heard. It had been men, from their Victorian loving poems who published about the love between men and female, where the men played the leading role. Women lost their decision making vitality within the family, now she became the dutiful better half who must take care of her hubby and children with love, who has no option of heading back to her own house. she also lost her inheritance right in property. The reform not only effected the nayar community but also other community who had been pursuing similar matrilineal forms of marriage. But the legislatures considered the nayar matrilinty as the standardized form no attention was given to the other neighborhoods.
The nayar reform activities that challenged the power of the karanavar alone were patriarchal. Their demands for relationship reforms, tenants rights or family partition did not give any room for the energy which a female held till then in a tharavadu. so basically under the patriarchal guideline of the karanavar women loved some type of power and authority which was changed by a new kind of patriarchy. Radha Krishnan in her article on 19th century says “the cultural reform consequently characterized as participating in an important part in the formation of new set of patriarchal-gender based relationships essential in the building of an bourgeois population”. A similar thing can be applied to the reforms in kerala also, though they were opposing the power of the male head, these were arguing only for the freedom of men from an older patriarch while what they were arguing for was same power over their partner and children. As sharadamani points out the growing political awareness enticed the educated people of kerala to more radical and left ideologies. But though ladies in kerala face less restriction regarding the access of education and work in comparison to their counterparts in west, the actual evaluation should be made between your men of kerala and the women of kerala. The education did not provide them with a sense of well worth or independence compared to the men.
While looking at the reform movements in Kerala with Bengal and Maharashtra, it is obvious that family matrimony and kinship becomes a site of reform. The progress and development of a modern culture is assessed based on the change in marriage and family system. We also notice that the main topic of reform was mainly women but it was the privileged men who have been in the command of reform activities. Neither have women play a role in these reforms nor their speech heard. Tradition provided a space for entertainment and enjoyment within the private space, in the case of kerala, traditions provided them a kind of decision making electricity and authority. While the western ideas of family and matrimony was imposed upon Indian women the ideological trends which occurred in the western didn’t happen in Indian case.