Saturday, August 22, 2009

Punjab before Partition - III

Before starting this post, I have to thank you for commenting on the previous post to say that there was social contact among the 3 communities. That was very heartening. I used to always wonder how people could live in the same village, and not have social contact with each other!
Continuing from the previous post, the other things that come to mind about that period:
  • It was considered an insult to the other party if you asked for a contract to be put in writing, or counted your change or money after receiving it from someone. "Zubaan" was so important that anything that could mean not trusting the person was taken as an insult. Till date, my grandparents do not count their change as they leave the counter.
  • At least in Sikh homes, the "gaddi" passed from the husband to the wife, not to the son. Perhaps only in some families... i am not so sure of this one, but all my grandparents were adamant about this.
  • Though alcohol was a common vice, the use of tobacco was frowned upon big time. In my house, even paan and supaari are forbidden.
  • Khuaaon jawaaiaan vangoo, te koho kasaiyaan vangoo: (Feed them like they are your sons in law, and make them work like a bull) Everyone, including women and children, were expected to participate in the tough physical labour, irrespective of the size of their land holding. If you cannot go to the field, you can always thresh grain in the courtyard, milk the cows and prepare their hay for them...
  • Daughters did not do any of the following: Wash dishes, sweep, touch anyone's feet. Daughters were exempt. Sons, on the other hand, were expected to twist their back into a "pairi pauna" at every sighting of an elder.. :-) What's more, on some auspicious days, all the male relatives were supposed to touch their daughters' feet.
  • "Dheeyaan sabdiyaan saanjhiyaan" : Your son is your son, but a daughter is everyone's daughter. Everyone was expected to protect the daughter. At a girl's wedding, everyone from the village was expected to contribute. A daughter's wedding was the village's wedding.
  • Eve teasing was not allowed: I know this sounds incredible in this day and age, but the average Punjabi was angered a lot by a man trying to "insult" a dhee-behan (daughter or sister). It was considered perfectly ok to physically hurt boys who were indulging in eve teasing, to drag them to their house and to make their parents apologise for making such ill mannered boys. There was a huge sense of community based protection of girls. This crime came right next to lying, which was the most heinous crime.
  • Wealth, in general, was not to be "showed off". If anything, it must be concealed. The motive was simple - one did not want to be conspicuous to the thieves through obvious consumption. My family on both sides, would get gold jewelry made and then, once a patila (a sort of cooking vessel) was filled, it would be buried under the floor. Having kachcha floors helped a lot. They were instructed to wear simple clothes, and the houses were not made elaborate either. Sounds very "un" punjabi? To me, all the showing off feels the same way.. :-)

Will wait for a lot more comments.. Please keep them coming..


!!! said...

and think of it now... the state is devoid of any daughters...Shame!!!

Manish Raj said...

What's your age :)

Apparently Intellectual said...

The state is not DEVOID of girls for god's sake!

!!! said...

Mr AI..

I wish it was true for future...
but we all know the rate of female infanticide in the region... wish head in sand attitude would help...

Z said...

I read Madhur Jaffrey's memoirs last year and they were fascinating and beautifully written - she grew up in Delhi and was a teenager at the time of partition. There was no racial or religious tension among her friends and they all used to share what was in their lunch boxes, according to what they were able to eat, and accepted each other's customs without question. The book is called "Climbing the Mango Trees" - I lent it to my daughter recently and she's enjoying it as much as I did.

The Phosgene Kid said...

Pretty tough to carry on the race without females.

How do we know said...

Hi !!!: i was thinking along the same lines too.. guess a lot of factors are at work here.. more than one can discuss in a comment.. but Shame.. one does agree with.

Hi Manish: Oh, all this is from my grandparents.. thankfully, i was spared the bloodshed of the partition. :-)

Hi Apparently Intellectual: Yes, we are not at 0 yet, but me thinks what !!! is trying to say is that its quite surprising that the same community now has such a poor gender ratio and is known for female foeticide.

Hi Z: Oh, i must get this one too.. thanks.

Hi Phos: Explain that to the guys who would rather kill a child than bear to give dowry. Also explain that to the macho men who cannot find themselves brides within their own state and literally buy brides from Kerala and Bihar.

Mama - Mia said...

what an interesting read next two parts were HDWK!

i think the basic principles in all communities stayed pretty much the same.

the touching of feet reminded me of how M who is a north indian told me, the maearthi mulgi before shaadi that after shaadi koi bhi bada dikhe, dive baba dive! :)



AMIT said...

Oh thanks for writing such an interesting post.

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