It is no hidden truth that women in Hindu families are considered as the embodiment of good luck or Goddess Lakshmi in the house. Footprints of the daughters and daughters-in-law at the entrance of the house brings prosperity for the family or in-laws. Rituals of Lakshmi Puja, Gharonda and Diwali also manifest this belief that a family is blessed with prosperity if it has a girl child. Similarly, a video surfaced on Twitter in which a father made his little daughter imprint her footmarks on his newly bought tractor as a sign of good luck. The video received warm responses from Twitterati who appreciated the father for valuing his daughter. Certainly, to some extent, these beliefs encourage families to value girl child which is a positive sign as opposed to the increasing rate of female infanticide. But if a father loves his daughter, is it enough to treat her as a goddess or good luck charm for his business? Will hailing a woman as the goddess of money and prosperity translate into her financial empowerment in real life? Will this normalise the idea of having women as the heir and boss in the family businesses?
Watch the video here:
Lets Call The Day With This Beautiful Video Of A Father Printing Footsteps Of His Daughter As A Mark Of Goodluck On The Newly Bought Agricultural Machine.
— 🦅 ਹਤਿੰਦਰ ਸਿੰਘ 🦅 (@hatindersinghr1) November 23, 2020
The video reminded me of a similar incident that happened in my house. Recently, my father helped my younger sister to climb up his truck and sit on the driver seat. Although the moment was mainly about a few selfies with funny captions, I couldn’t stop thinking if my father would ever let her own the truck or the business. To say, the truck was bought on her birthday, but would she ever be the inheritor of the business? Would she be the next bread-earner of the family who is proud of her money and of the fact that she is running the family business with a new perfection? The answer is no because my family is already in the assumption that my sister would be married and sent to another family. Then what’s the point of handing over the business to her? And before I could argue further, my brother is already under training to be the next one to sit on my father’s rolling chair.
Similarly, in the video, one can’t stop questioning that tomorrow when the daughter grows up, would the father allow her to drive the tractor? Would the tractor decorated by her red footprints ever become the medium of her empowerment? Just recently, we witnessed the case of Valli Arunachalam who has been fighting to gain a seat in the family boardroom which she rightfully deserves. According to the Indian constitution, a daughter has equal rights to inherit the property and business of her family. But if an influential and educated woman like Arunachalam has to fight a long battle to gain her constitutional rights, can we expect common families to be more considerate?
When I ask my mother if she would have a share in her paternal property, she straightaway denies it. She has internalised that her brother is the rightful heir of the property and that her share in it is optional. Similarly, my father asks me to prove that I can take care of the property if I want a share in it. If by law a daughter is a rightful heir, why should someone else decide whether she is capable of it? Why a daughter has to prove that she is a competent heir while a son is already assumed to be the scion, irrespective of his capability or choice?
On the other hand, the narrative of daughters as Lakshmi plays out literally but in a harsher way when families from poor background force their daughters to work even before gaining an education. Many women who work as domestic help, sex workers or labourers pull their daughters in the same work as soon as they learn the knicks and knacks of it. Of course, it is punishable if the child is a minor. But if she is more than 18 years of age, does it justify the pressure on the daughter to earn for the family rather than seeking education and employment of her choice? Does being the Laxmi of the house mean that a woman should prioritise the family’s happiness and traditions over her own?
So dear parents, it is not enough to just pedestal your daughters as Goddess. Consider her as the rightful heir of the family business. Let her be financially independent and the path that she undertakes for the same should also be of her choice. It is okay if you believe in the ideology of considering women as goddesses if that is what it needs for you to understand the value of a woman. But don’t try to restrict her in double standards and your own definitions of respectable and empowered women. Let her grow, choose, earn and rule.