Diwali is knocking at the door. Every household is indulged in cleaning and redecorating. Someone is swabbing the spider webs on the corners of the walls, others are washing the cupboards with pipes. Some are arranging the glass menageries, others are putting up flowers for the house to be fragrant. But Diwali ki safai is usually a woman’s work. Men do not care about it at all. They follow their daily routine of going to work and coming back in the evening to the food served on the table. But does anyone care about cleaning and getting rid of this sexism in society?
Sexism is widespread everywhere in the society like the dust on the widows. No matter how many times you clean, it comes back glaring at you. But in our society, people are ready to clean windows 100 times without giving one attempt at cleaning the sexism and patriarchy in the houses. They ignore them as corners that are unapproachable for regular swabbing. But during this Diwali ki safai, let us aim at cleaning every dirt from our houses, be it in the cupboards or in the mindsets. So here are 15 things that need to be broomed away from society this Diwali to actually redecorate the house with the freshness of feminism.
During this Diwali ki safai, make sure every person, irrespective of gender. Make sure that from now on, roles are not divided based on gender. Both men and women should work, take care of the house and learn survival skills.
Sexual harassment in our society is like that spot of tea on the table that requires hard work to clean. So let us promise to not indulge in or encourage sexual harassment in society. Let us clean the mindsets of men that consider women sexual objects. Also, let us clean those mindsets too that hold women responsible for their harassment.
During this Diwali, when you light diyas, make sure that the flair enlightens your mind and gives you the strength to fight against domestic violence at home. It is a punishable crime, whether it happens to you or others.
Marriage pressure on women clogs their way to stand on their own feet. It makes women indigent of having a male partner to live a respectable and peaceful life. They are made to think that without marriage their life has no meaning and hence they lose hope of achieving and valuing their dreams. Let’s clean women’s paths to success by removing the burden of marriage on them.
Pressure of motherhood
As soon as a woman gets married in our society, she is forced to carry a child as soon as possible. But this Diwali, let us free women of this pressure and let them enjoy their married life as long as they want. Let us make motherhood a diya that women light themselves when they are ready to.
Objections on financial independence of women
In our society, women are still not allowed to have ">financial independence. They are expected to depend on someone else for monetary support, usually the men in their houses. But this Diwali, let us clear the mindset that women cannot handle money. Women on this festival are praised as the embodiment of Goddess Lakshmi so make them financially independent so that they can actually handle money.
Sexism at workplace
During Diwali, workplaces are worshipped because they are the source of money. But in our society, workplaces do not consider male and female employees as equal. They are paid less salary, they are considered less competent than men, they are judged according to their gender and gender roles and they have to do double hard work to earn the same salary as men. But this Diwali, as we enlighten the workplaces let us make sure it brings gender equality so that women can be valued for their work, not judged for their gender.
Toxic relationships with parents
In our society, it is common for daughters to have toxic relationships with their parents. This is mainly because daughters’ and parents’ expectations for the future don’t match. Daughters want to see the dream of them being successful come true while parents want them to get married on time so that they are settled in their own house. But this Diwali, as parents and daughters come together for a celebration, let this toxicity vanish. Parents must understand their daughters’ dreams to be successful and let them achieve them. While daughters must understand the conditioning of their parents before villainising them.
The idea of paraya dhan
This Diwali, let go of the idea of paraya dhan. If you consider your daughters as Lakshmi, give them the love they deserve as a part of the family. Don’t alienate them as Lakshmi of someone else’s family even if they are already married. Whether a woman is married or not, a daughter belongs to her parents as long as she is alive.
Not allowing widows to celebrate
In our society, widows are not involved in any celebration. They are considered ominous and hence kept away from every occasion that is holy and good. But this Diwali, let widows too indulge in the festivities and have equal fun. Let them light diyas, perform pujas and burst crackers so that they don’t feel they are not good signs for their families.
Higher education is not for girls
Many families do not allow their daughters to seek higher education. Some families don’t even let them to get basic education. The restrictions on the education of girls force them to be in the darkness of ignorance and lack of knowledge about the world and society. But this Diwali, as you light diyas, let the brightness spread in your daughters’ lives too so that they see the dawn of education and of success and knowledge.
Career is not fit for women
Many families consider certain careers unfit for women. They restrict them from following those careers because they are either male-centric or unsafe for women. But dear parents please understand that there is no career women cannot pursue. It is wrong to stop women from pursuing a career just because it is male-centric or unsafe. It is not women’s fault that there is no gender diversity in some jobs or that there are men who don’t let certain careers be safe for women. So stop holding back your daughters and rather teach men to not misbehave with female colleagues.
Judging women for having male friends
In our society, women are often judged for having male friends. Just recently my sister wanted to go on a tour with an all-boys group. But there was a general fear among me and my parents that she is doing wrong or that she will be unsafe. But with Diwali ki safai, we too cleared our minds with the thoughts that women are characterless for having male friends. We allowed her to go without any complaints or grudges. So should society do. It should stop judging women for having male friends. And rather let them enjoy this Diwali with their friends and family together.
14. Considering divorce as an immoral act
This Diwali let us normalise the fact that some marriages do not work even if the couple is termed as 'made for each other.' Let us normalise the fact that men or women can seek divorce and alumni without having to face criticism in society.
Let us make this Diwali an opportunity to redecorate our society with happiness and equality. Let the lights of equality shine so bright that the dust of patriarchy becomes invisible. Let the broom of Diwali ki safai be held strongly by all genders so that the dust of patriarchy is removed even if it hides in the darkness.
Views expressed are the author's own.