Posts Tagged ‘culture’

What is it like to be a ‘Manglik’?*

January 18, 2008 1 comment

Every society has a mechanism to tag people to make sure only a small set of them can become chosen few. Indians used most simplistic way. You get whole bunch of tags at your birth which restricts your fate right away. For example, every person is tagged with a caste and you are allowed to marry a girl only from your own caste. There is another relatively complicated thing which is called ‘Astrology’. It refines tagging system more systematically.

Let me give you a small introduction of Indian Astrology.** Indians thought earth is at the center of universe and all the stars are moving around earth in a strict discipline. All the stars revolve around the earth in 23h56m from east to west. They also observed that 9 objects in the visible sky don’t follow this strict rule. They started calling them planets. These objects were Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Rahu, and Ketu. Rahu and ketu are imaginary planets. (Indians are very good in imagining mythical things.) Two main things they observed about planets. First, They all move in same circle which is called Ecliptic.*** Second, they also revolve around the earth from east to west same as stars but with a slower speed. For example, sun revolves around earth in 24h.

So, Indian view of sky was that stars create a fixed backdrop scene and planets are skidding along the ecliptic with a slow speed over this backdrop. Indians divided this ecliptic in 12 parts. So, planets move slowly from one part to another. These parts are called zodiac. For example, sun is 4 minute slower than stars. So, sun takes an year to make full round over the backdrop of stars. Sun crosses 12 Zodiacs in a whole year. A zodiac every month which you might have noticed when you read your daily horoscope in news paper.

Each time instant can be characterized by location of these 9 planets in Zodiacs. It is like a clock with 9 hands. You have to say location of all the 9 planets to be able to say time according to this ‘planetary clock’.

Now, the astrology kicks in. Indian scholars thought that there must be a divine plan. They imagined that God does things according to this planetary clock. If God gives you birth at certain time according to the planetary clock, then he will use some unknown (to us) formula to decide what you are going to face in the life. So, they developed a field of study Astrology-“To decipher God’s plan!”. They started studying people and listing the events of their life with planetary clock time. They tried to observe if there is a correlation between people’s life and planetary clock time. They came up with thousand of correlation results. For example, If You are born in a time when Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter are exactly 4 zodiacs away from each other then you are born in ‘Raj Yog’. ‘Raj Yog’ means a luck of ruling power. These are the rules of astrology. To become a good astrologer, you need to learn many such rules and develop an ability to detect these patterns.

I don’t have eloquence to describe the folly of this wishful thinking of deciphering God’s plan. Once I saw comedian Bill Maher acting like a Religious dude and saying, “Hey, even I can understand how this world works.” It is not bad that once some one created astrology. Can’t we now say that it is a failed hypothesis after advancing to today’s knowledge base?

These predictions play with peoples mind. It is like telling someone at ones face that he/she is ugly/beautiful. They boost or kill peoples moral. If your prediction says you will do well in rice business and you believe the prediction then you may end up doing rice business. This prediction system helps to keep society in order. People know their prediction before hand and follow the society obediently.

One of the rules of Astrology is ‘Manglik’. Literally means ‘cursed by mars’. There are certain configurations of planetary clock. If you are born at the time of those configurations then you are cursed by Mars. So, You can be born with a tag called Manglik. You will not notice this tag until you will reach to the age of marriage. You are cursed. If you marry a person who is not cursed then he/she will die within 7 years. [For non Indians: This is not a joke.] People take it very seriously. It is very hard to find someone who is also cursed and fits with your expectations. Parents of cursed child have to hunt the world end to end to find a cursed match. It must be traumatic for someone who believes that most important person of ones life can die within 7 years because of the curse.

I am not a Manglik. I don’t know what it is like to be a ‘Manglik’.

*Inspired by: “What is it like to be a BAT?”. I barely passed cognitive philosophy course in my bachelors but the title of this paper is cool enough to be used here. 🙂

**I am trying to present it in a way which helps you to understand Indian Astrology but facts may not be historically accurate. Please comment if you think i have written something wrong.

***Because whole solar system is approximately flat in 3D space.

Conspiracy of Sari

December 4, 2007 Leave a comment

Indian society has been known for not giving much freedom to women. My observation is that there are not many direct ways to subjugate women in Indian society but there are subtle ways to devoice women. I think sari is one of those means.

First of all, it is simply few meters long straight piece of cloth. Properly warping sari around on “not so simple” human body can be a difficult task. Its simplicity makes it complicated to wear. It takes 10s of minutes to get it right. Once she gets it right then she have to strictly keep it right. Sari is not zipped or buttoned but just warped around her body. It may possible after a while some parts of sari get loose. So in every few minutes, she needs to actively check that every thing is still fine with sari or not. It consumes a lot of processing time of her brain. She can’t run wearing a sari. It restricts not only physical movement but also mental movement.

It is a bad design. It is against practicality. So, How Indians reached to this design of clothing? Sari is considered a beautiful dressing. It represents woman’s modesty. Woman in sari gives immediate impression of submissive and shy character. Women are expected to start wearing sari after marriage. Somehow, Frequency at which a daughter-in-law wear sari represents her devotion to her husband’s family. You can see design of sari serves its purpose in society.

I have argued with some girls with this viewpoint. Invariably, their first response is, “Sari is so beautiful,how can you think like this?”. They adore sari. Some times you get answer, “Even if you put that woman in jeans and t-shirt, she will not run and she will not think any thing other than herself.”

This is not as Muslim Burka which can be easily identified as means of subjugation. It is so subtle such that most of you readers must be thinking this post is funny or overly argumentative. A means of subjugation becomes really powerful when it is hard to identify and convince its effects.

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