The next evolutionary step for humankind is to move from man to kind…!

Recently came across a note by friends in social media saying, women who don’t change their last name after marriage – is a sign of women empowerment.

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I see women having their own opinion on that note and I feel that itself is a great achievement that they made a choice, they have an opinion – some did change because they like it that way for what so ever reason – may be the culture they grew up with, or be part of their husband’s family and the belonging aspect of it etc. But having changed the last name or not, the truth is does that makes anyone liberated? I mean I have seen women without changing their last name after marriage and yet have not empowered to make any family decisions or even make a decision for themselves when it comes to career or any other choices.

“Some guys will want to change everything about you. But the right guy will not want to change one thing your last name.”

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Are we dwelling on the right thing when we say ‘women empowerment’? I am not sure but for these name change and not change things and the identity through those actions… because I feel irrespective of what your name is – whether the name and surname is from your maiden family? Or your name is given by your parents and surname is from your husband’s family? Or your first name and last name is given to you by your husband’s family during the marriage as part of the tradition?

“He stole my heart and I am planning for revenge. I am going to steal his last name!”

In my opinion nothing gives you an identity other than what you do and establish yourself as with your thoughts and actions. Believe it or not, I often say to friends when they ask me if I am Usha, Dawn, Fiza and my response to them is – what’s in the name?

“We cannot despair of humanity, since we ourselves are human beings.”

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Yes, what is in the name? I feel specially with the Indian culture and tradition when you see a name your mind opens into – the person is from which religion, caste, language, state and what not. Is this is what you’re defining as your identity? Then hell no!!! I don’t need such identity because I want to be known as a human first and not tied to any religion, caste, state, language or anything such things that divides the human race. I am sure if we were named as numbers because names cause these kinds of issues, still we would come up with who’s the top most and who’s not and would start discriminating based on that.

I have been treated so well the moment people came to know which place I come from and the state, some have treated me so well when they came to know I am Fiza, I got many friend requests and appreciations from Muslim friends, similarly many have asked me if I have married a white guy since I have my name as Usha Dawn – I mean c’mon!!! And to another extent the Dawn is referred as Dhawan and some south Indians they call me north Indian very proudly… I feel sorry for them!

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If people cannot connect with you or your identity without your last name, then it’s better not to connect because it will be a rough pathway.

“Humanity should be our race. Love should be our religion.”

Let’s be human first because that’s what we became as part of evolution and we have not been successful in doing a good job on that itself and we created so many barriers for ourselves in the name of caste, creed, culture, religion and what not!!!

“Find the sweetness in your own heart, then you may find the sweetness in every heart” ~ Rumi

~ Dawn

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Discomfort is always a necessary part of the process of enlightenment…!!!

Many times we follow certain tradition because we grew up watching others. As we understand sometimes we do ask questions and sometimes it doesn’t bother anyone as part of tradition it’s more of celebration and social engagement hence it doesn’t come out as a question as why do we follow this norm.

“Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought” ~ John. F. Kennedy

My story about ‘Durga Puja‘, is somewhat similar to that. Even though born in a Keralite family (Kerala, in South India), I grew up in Pune (in Maharashtra State) and that gave me the exposure to diverse India. The people, food and festivals and traditions. I always felt I am privileged as I got the opportunity to be part of every celebration or festivity whether it belonged to East, West, North and South India – I had friends and their family who had these traditions and festivals that they maintained and celebrated and I just merged with them.

It’s with the same spirit I enjoy all festivals here in USA as well. “Sindur Khela” is where every year I look forward to attend as part of Durga Puja, and my thoughts and understanding was limited to as it’s part of Durga Puja and it’s a fun game. Being a feminist, for me Durga is a symbol of girl-power and every girl must feel proud of being one. It’s interesting how we start reading about these when we have to explain to our non-Indian friends about these festivities.
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As I read about it, it totally changed me. My excitement and enthusiasm somewhere vanished. My heart started questioning why do I call this a celebration when it’s not something that every women can enjoy?
At the same time Durga Puja and Sindur Khela is all about power of womanhood. If that is true then why every woman is not allowed to participate in Sindur Khela?
Why unmarried, widows and divorcees are not allowed to be part of this Sindur Khela, aren’t they women? Aren’t they powerful?

“Tradition is an explanation for acting without thinking” ~ Grace McGarvie 

These thoughts really crushed me and made me feel dejected. In the name of Durga Puja and Sindur Khela it’s again the hypocrisy of manhood that is celebrated in the veil of womanhood. The male dominant society created another tradition which seemed like for women to socialize, celebrate and pray for the happiness of husband and children. Shouldn’t that be the same for the husband too? He should also pray for his wife and children’s happiness so why not men has any traditions to follow? How do we justify single moms or widow moms? Don’t they also want their kids to be happy and safe?

“Myself worth isn’t determined by others”

Marriage and sindur is all about men and about their manhood. It’s not about women celebrating themselves.
I am an ally at the LGBTQ community and I believe in equality in every respect and this is something against my belief. Hence something all these years I rejoiced getting decked up and getting colored in red sindur and socialized with friends and others has made me to think.

I don’t think there is sindur khela for me next year because I don’t support something that discriminates any human being at any level.

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I have though seen and witnessed some of the divorcees participating in Sindur Khela in the events that I have attended and it only made me happy to see that but my real thoughts are with those who are barred from participating in Sindur Khela. In their name, I decided not to enjoy anymore such traditions.

If we believe in all traditions then ‘Sati Pratha‘ was also a tradition that was followed in ancient India and one should follow that too, isn’t it?

I think we all must question these traditions just like how we question our constitution because things have to change with time and for the betterment of the human beings and our society. Otherwise, unknowingly we are supporting discrimination and we must not give wrong message if we are sure that we don’t support it.

“Life should not only be lived, it should be celebrated”

Now, I am only going back and thinking about those moments where without any idea my heart was enjoying the celebrations and festivities with friends and family…and someone from inside says, ‘It’s okay because you didn’t know about it’!

“Sometimes your heart needs more time to accept what your mind already knows”

~ Dawn