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.

Janai has conventionally entrenched Nepal’s socio-cultural division and caused symbolic violence against those who are considered as lower castes. Annals of our history show resistance over the meaning of janai and the rules surrounding its use.

Wearing janai is certainly not illegal. However, those who take pride in being able to wear janai need to be aware of the fact that not all castes and communities are privileged to wear janai on this date.

A high caste man taking selfie of himself wearing janai and broadcasting it through social media hurts those who are traditionally not entitled to do so.

By boasting the privilege of wearing janai, we are not just respecting our culture or tradition, but expressing who we are, and for that matter, how superior we are.

In the past it was easier to question and resist against social-cultural tradition. We were much more tolerant compared to what we are today. There was lesser sense of insecurity. We were more liberal to others’ ideas.

Time has changed. We have turned into intolerant pigs -ready to bite off other’s penises at the slightest discomfort. I have been facing attacks and threats for criticizing the meaning of janai in our social order.

I stick to my assertion still today! Janai is divisive. It demeans those who do not have the ‘authority’ to wear it.

Wear janai as you wish –feeling elated about wearing it is turning a blind eye to the political economy embedded in our history and social tradition.

No comments:

Post a Comment