Wednesday, August 24, 2005

sumangali prarthanai

This ritual is so ridiculously patriarchal. When the daughter of the house is about to get married there is usually a 'sumangali prarthanai'; people get together and pray to the ancestors. Not just any ancestor, mind you - it is to those ancestors who are female and who died before their husbands.

Two cases in point of the two women who died before their husband, one died a very tragic death and her husband struggled to bring up their children and the other it could be argued, was driven to death by her own husband. If we must pray to the ancestors, I cant see why we shouldn't pray to someone like my grandmother who died after a full life of seeing her children and grand children well settled and after seeing her aged husband die peacefully.

The whole 'sumangali' concept is noxious.

8 comments:

Annapurna - Dheerga Sumangali said...

You can't say it is useless because if a sumangali (married woman) dies as a sumangali that is before her husband's death then she and her husband'd go to heaven and she'd liberate the sins done by the ancestors. Hence saving the future. To pray for Sumangali hood a woman must not only perform Sumangali Prarthana but also touch the feet of her husband everyday (Namaskaram). I do it everyday and He blesses me "Dheerga Sumangali Bhava" usually after my husband drinks coffee. So i think I am a Dheerga Sumangali. I suggest u do it as well. "Dheerga Sumangali Bhava" to you.

Annapurna said...

You can't say it is useless because if a sumangali (married woman) dies as a sumangali that is before her husband's death then she and her husband'd go to heaven and she'd liberate the sins done by the ancestors. Hence saving the future. To pray for Sumangali hood a woman must not only perform Sumangali Prarthana but also touch the feet of her husband everyday (Namaskaram). I do it everyday and He blesses me "Dheerga Sumangali Bhava" usually after my husband drinks coffee. So i think I am a Dheerga Sumangali. I suggest u do it as well. "Dheerga Sumangali Bhava" to you.

MB said...

Annapurna, I find your comments above extremely problematic. I am getting married in Chennai this year, and I am struggling to find a way out of the misogynist tradition of honoring my sumangali ancestors. I would love it if the tradition were merely honoring women ancestors in my family - who could find fault with that in such a patriarchal society? But I struggle with the value judgment the ritual places on women, in defining what constitutes a virtuous woman.

Regarding your comment that the dead sumangalis help liberate the sins of the ancestors in heaven: at least in my conception of Hinduism and the Karmic cycle, this really makes little sense.

Women should stop supporting practices that continue our subjugation. Why do so many Indian women (including my mother) seem to not understand?

Anonymous said...

By definition the woman who was driven to her death by her own husband's cruelty is not a 'sumangali' - how was her life 'mangalmay'? But on the other hand, I like the idea of having a prayer for the women for a change! So, when I get married, and I am doing the sumangali praarthanai I will be thinking of not just those poor unfortunate women who died before their husbands, I will also think of those that survived their husband (like your grandmother.)

radha jagan said...

I perfectly agree with you Radhika. It is a ridiculous practise. It must have been started by a woman who wanted to spite the widowed women in the family.

Kanchi Paramacharya has stated that this was not practised in the vedic times (as are many of our practises including the concept of thirumangalyam). These have evolved over the times.

It pains to see that only living and dead 'sumangalis' are treated with honor and respect - however ill-natured they may be.

My mother's ancestors committed sati and she is demi-god to them! Bah! height of cowardice.

A woman's husband is a co-traveller in this world and I don't understand why he has to be celebrated so much.

According to me - a husband 'blessing' his wife 'dheerga sumangali bhava' is the most selfish person! Even when the wife falls at his feet - he thinks only of himself. Annapurna, this practise is there in my family and I tell all the menfolk that they are selfish!

giridhar said...

hi
lots of times people have misunderstood our rich values and traditions.....in thenkalai iyengars of tirukurungudi....it is called mangala pondugal...the whole process of this function is like this
1 punyahavachanam
2 thiruvaradhanam
3 alaithal
4 upacharams for the pondugal
5 thaligai samrpithal
in our system we have like this where the first leaf is laid to a bramhachari boy, then bala, then it is called vishnu sakthi leaf,,,where a widower sits, then the other leaves for 5 sumagalis....
the first daughter in law of the house will stand inbetween the people and say
ikk karayil irukirava akkariku varalam akk karayila irukirava engum polam perumale ellarayum nallpadiya kapathu....sapidalm....then they give thirtam and start eating....so in our system every body is given equal importance,,,,so please follwo the correct procedure,,,,,

shakthi said...

Hi, I am yet to be married. The talks are yet to be begun. My boyfriend's family are okay with us but my family is aristocratic and patriarchal and is yet to approve our alliance.

In fact, they have begun telling me things like I have dosham and our marriage can kill my boyfriend. It frightened me a lot and I looked up for sumangali prathana.

Since childhood I have been told that I need blessings of ancestors as I don't have it by birth in my horoscope, so I must pray and take blessings of elders as much as possible. None of the elders in my family make me feel like I should take their blessings.

Today I read that there is a connection between blessings of ancestors and sumangaliness and I am really frightened by looking at the connection of things- as my horoscope doesn't have much blessings of ancestors and also there is some dosham in the horoscope.

I am more than worried. I can't fathom I life without my boyfriend and I am desperate to find the right way to pray for his long life.

Nice perspective in this post. I don't know why our culture is this way. I wish we could live in the ignorance of astrology and suhc things. It would let us live at peace.

Email me at ca.sp2010@gmail.com if any of you know a prayer for my purpose.

Thanks,

mahadevan said...

You can not say it is useless. More over there is no difference is shown only to wife not to elderly woman like that. The prayer and offer goes to all the women who died Sumangali, eldest or youngest.

The offer goes not only to the previous generation it goes to all the ancestors who died sumangali for various generation.