A woman to enjoy a male ritual in the gender-biased Jatland

CHAPPAR (BHIWANI): A couple of days before her wedding on May 12, Monika Sangwan of Chappar village in Haryana’s Bhiwani district will ride a mare to the village temple. Women of her family will accompany her singing traditional songs. The ritual, called ‘ghurchari’, is an old custom in these parts but only for men. Monika would be the first woman to perform ‘ghurchari’ in the Jatland known for its gender bias against women.

Monika is a postgraduate student in a Hissar college. Breaking with tradition, her mother Kamlesh Sangwan (45), an anganwadi worker, decided to have the ‘ghurchari’ for Monika’s wedding. “Why should I discriminate against my daughter when I would arrange ghurchari for my son when he gets married?” said Kamlesh.

She was inspired when Satyawan Sangwan of her village performed ‘kuan pujan’ (worshipping a well) when his daughter was born. In Haryana, the puja is held to celebrate the birth of a male child. But, Satyawan did it to welcome his daughter’s birth, the first girl child born in his family after 30 years.

Kamlesh, a member of the village youth club, also decided to celebrate Monika’s marriage to Satinder in a unique way. “I am excited,” said Monika, adding that her father Dharambir is also happy about this.

Her elder sister Neelam got married five years back when ‘Save the Girl Campaign’ had not picked up in the village. “It would have been nice, if a ghurchari had been organized for me. But I am happy my sister would get that opportunity,” said Neelam.

Village sarpanch Kartar Singh welcomed the initiative. The population of the village is around 10,000. “More than 100 boys are waiting to get married. We plan to involve these boys in the `Save the Girl Campaign. They will also inform the authorities, if they get to know about any female foeticide case,” he said.

Shyam Sunder, secretary of Bhiwani’s Red Cross Society, is credited with the initiative to perform ‘kuan pujan’ for the girl child here about a year ago. “Marriage is an important event in a person’s life and the girl should feel proud of her gender on this occasion,” he said.

And, his efforts has helped improve the sex ratio in the village. From 821:1,000 in 2010, the sex ratio in the 0-6 age group has climbed to 1,281:1,000 in the first three months of this year, said Sunder.



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