The word ‘Taboo’ resonates with restrictions and prohibition. Taboo is a human activity forbidden based on moral judgement. In Indian Society, the word taboo is associated in various ways. India with it’s cultural and religious diversity has always been associated with conservative and orthodox way of thinking. The age old beliefs and religious customs have always led us to behave and think in a certain way which many a time is for the betterment for the society at large but at times also leads to limiting our boundaries and thoughts.

Majority of the population in India resides in its villages and this has its advantage and disadvantage too. The infrastructure in rural India is yet to be fully developed hence, there is lot of disparity between life in villages and urban area. Basically, illiteracy is rampant in India and this itself creates lot of restrictions in the society. The restriction are more often on women than the menfolk.

Let us explore the various taboos associated with women in India

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Rural India:

Rural population constitutes the core of India and Indian civilization is one of the oldest civilization in the world. According to a recent study 32% of the rural population is still illiterate compared to 15% in urban areas. Common taboos noticed in rural areas:

  • Widow marriages are sill considered a taboo in rural villages of India.
  • Young girls are still denied higher education considering it would affect their married life.
  • Even though we are in the 21st century most of the villages in India still consider a girl child as a big burden to the family.
  • One of the most common cultural taboo associated with women is their menstruation cycle. A girl or a woman is restricted from attending any religious function or visiting a temple if they are menstruating. They are considered to be unclean during this period. Sanitary napkins are still not accessible to many young women in rural areas due to their traditional beliefs.

Urban India:

Though there is a lot of change in the urban outlook in India, there are some norms which are still considered as taboo in urban India such as:

  • Divorce in India is still considered a big taboo. Divorced women are considered less pure than the women who have never been married. Working Independent women are denied residential accommodation if they are divorced.
  • Women drinking in public places and openly speaking about sex is also considered a taboo.
  • Women having sex before marriage are also shunned in the society.
  • Sex is still considered as a crime in Indian Society and people shy away from contraceptives and condoms. Ads showing contraceptives are also shunned.

It’s not only women who are victims of such taboos but Indian men too have long been reeling under some of the social taboos such as:

  1. Men have to be strong no matter what the situation is.
  2. Men have to be the bread winners for their family.
  3. India has reached Mars but being gay or bisexual is still considered a criminal offence.
  4. Interfaith marriages are still considered as a taboo in Indian Society.

Taboos are nothing but barriers for development of a nation. It needs to be uprooted and thrown away. We need to break away from the shackles of age old beliefs if we wish to see the country among the top developed countries of the world. Live and Let Live should be our motto. We should be able to understand the importance of individual space and choices. 

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