Friday, July 28, 2017

Janai Blog

When people speak in favor of or against janai, they are not trying to talk about the janai itself. Opinion on janai reflects people’s ideas of who they are and how they see others.

Janai is not a commodity. It is a cultural thing. It serves symbolic purpose. It is embedded in meaning.

A symbol is a social construction. Symbols and social relations are often intertwined. Symbols, as they are the product of society, often serve the purpose of maintaining (or destroying) social order.

Janai is particularly important when we examine its relevance to Nepalese social order. Nepalese society was divided into people who are allowed to wear janai and those who are not allowed to wear it. Janai is the symbol which divides us. The division was coded in Nepal’s law (Muluki Ain, 1854 AD).

In our social-cultural tradition, not all can wear Janai. Except for the ‘tagadharis’ (Brahmins, chhetris, thakuris), others are not entitled to wear the sacred thread. The so called matwalis and those who are considered as impure (pani nachalne) are barred from wearing janai.