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Breaking a gender barrier

IANS
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For girls in a Bihar village, the sacred thread is a symbol that they are as important as men...

File photo: A.M. Faruqui
File photo: A.M. Faruqui

A village in Bihar called Mania, in the Buxar district, has been following a novel tradition for the last three decades – of Hindu girls wearing the ‘janeu’ or sacred thread, which is otherwise the preserve of Brahmin men, to overcome gender and religious bias.

The ‘janeu sanskar’ ceremony at which the sacred thread is worn is regularly held for girls.

30-year-old tradition

“This three-decade old tradition has an interesting story. Vishwanath Singh, had set up a girls school in Mania village in 1972, at a time when women were discouraged from joining school,” said Sidheshwar Sharma, a social activist.

“Undaunted, he started sending his four daughters to school, which encouraged and inspired others to follow suit. After that, Vishwanath Singh held the thread ceremony for his elder daughter. Later this practice was adopted by others and became a tradition in the village,” he added.

Meera Kumari, the girl who began the practice, said that she and her three sisters still wear the sacred thread. “Wearing the janeu is a symbol that we are no less important than men,” Meera Kumari, now a school teacher, said.

Catalyst for progress

According to Sharma, the tradition has made the village famous for promoting education of girls and spreading awareness against female foeticide.

“Even this year, the ‘janeu sanskar’ ceremony was held for class 10 students Nisha Kumari and Prinka Kumari in the village,” he added.

More than two dozen girls in the village wear the sacred thread and attend school. The girls say they are no different from boys when it comes to dreams of a good education.

“This tradition among girls has changed the mindset of men in the village, who never dare to discriminate against women.” Sharma pointed out.IANS


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