During one of my regular scrolls on Instagram, I came across a beautiful couple’s wedding photos. It was a normal, beautiful Hindu wedding that suddenly led me wondering about Kanyadaan. ‘Kanyadaan’ was just another normal word for me until I realized how it is made up of two words: ‘kanya’ and ‘daan’. I was tempted to Google about it and what came up next on my smart screen shook me to the core.
‘Kanya’ means a maiden and ‘daan’ is donation. So literally, Kanyadaan is the donation of girls. As per my near and dear ones and the internet, Kanyadaan is supposed to be the highest honor that a girl’s parents can ever receive to cleanse out their sins. After donating your daughter to the groom, your pathway to the heaven is made all clear! Someone genius on the internet also pointed out how the word starts with ‘kanya’ and not ‘stree’, denoting that only virgins can cleanse the sins of their parents. I see. Back since hundreds and hundreds of years ago till now, Kanyadaan is very much prevalent in our society. It is one of the sexist traditions that objectifies us, women. The thought of giving away your daughter makes me sick because no matter whoever she gets married to, she is still a person before being your daughter and no one has the right to give her away as if she is some sort of a property that can be passed around.
You may wonder that the definition and meaning behind it might have changed and that it does not hold true to its initial original concept but has evolved into something entirely different and welcoming? Well, how I wish it were true but no. The reason behind it is that the people don’t care; they do not know the significance behind this tradition. Kanyadaan had been followed through ages and rather than questioning it, they are easily influenced by the people to adopt the tradition largely on emotional basis. However, these days people do not follow it solely for the purpose of bringing down women but are simply not aware of it which adds up to uplifting misogyny in our society. Ignorance is the cause of almost all of the existing problems; we are never taught to question. In the name of god and purity we are ready to anything and everything without realizing how wrong we may be.
If more people came to know about the true meaning behind this sexist tradition, I bet you that Kanyadaan would definitely change into something more meaningful and welcoming, something that begins with ‘stree’ and does not end with daan.
Originally published in MyReublica