Dear Society, Woman’s Bidaai Doesn’t Mean Breaking Ties With Parents

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One of the most emotional periods in a woman’s life (those who choose to marry) is the custom of Bidaai. It marks her farewell from her parental home because after marriage she begins a new life as a member of her marital house. Marriage certainly is a big change in life that involves challenges, compromises and emotional upheaval. But is this all only for women? Should women alone bear the responsibilities in a marriage whether it is about sustaining it for a long time or breaking ties from her parents? Should it always be women who leave the house of their parents after marriage? And does this Bidaai imply that she should stop caring for and protecting her parents? 

It has always irked me how after Bidaai a woman is uprooted from her family and house where she grew up. And suddenly after the marriage that house no more remains her “own house”. After leaving those rice puffs behind during the custom of Bidaai, a woman is expected to give all her time, strength and earnings to her husband and his family. She is expected to never look back to her parental house where she becomes a guest who can stay only for a few days. Because if she chooses to stay at her parental house after marriage, she is meted out with social criticisms and is reminded about her duties towards her in-laws more than ever.

Just recently, my cousin sister visited her parental home for a few days. Unfortunately, at that time we lost our maternal grandfather while her husband lost his aunt. The loss was huge on both sides. Even then, my sister was being forced to attend her duties at her marital house leaving behind the last rites of the grandfather she lived with since her childhood and loved so dearly. While her husband was not even expected to visit the last rites of her grandfather. 

It is okay to expect that women embrace their new family and house as their own. But it is not okay to ask her to break all her ties with the older ones. Do we have the same expectations from men? Why don’t men too stay with and serve their in-laws as they expect from women? Moreover, it is high time that we unlearn the ideas that women get uprooted from her parental family after marriage. Whether married or not, her birth parents, the house and the family she spent her childhood with remain an important part of her identity. The man who marries her should accept her as a part of her family and not separated from it.

Earlier it was believed that men stay with their parents because they can earn and support them. But today women are responsible enough to take care of their parents even after marriage. In fact, the inheritance law now recognises daughters as rightful heirs of parental property, irrespective of their marital status. So what is the point of asking women to always be the one who leaves her parents and stay with her in-laws? 

Let us understand that Bidaai is an emotional moment because it marks a start of a new life, responsibilities and challenges that a person might have to face on their own and often without the security and safety of parents’ lap. And mark my words that it is a life-turning event for both men and women. Moreover, in older times Bidaai was more emotional for women because they were never allowed to step out of the house, unlike men. But today, women already stay in different cities for studies and jobs which are equally an achievement and a turning point in a woman’s life as her marriage. If women don’t break their ties with their parents while staying away from them for studies/job, then why should marriage force them to do so?

Rather than making Bidaai a gendered idea, shouldn’t we encourage more men to stay with their in-laws and daughters to take care of their parents? Shouldn’t couples discuss beforehand that whose parents are more vulnerable in age and require more care? Or both the husband and wife start a separate living while being connected with each others’ parents? Solutions are many but are we willing to explore and change?    

Views expressed are the author’s own.