Interview Reflection Paper
Interviewing a religious woman was an exciting experience of crossing the cultural boundaries I have. I interviewed an immigrant Hindu woman who moved to our country 4 years ago, because her husband received here a job. During the interview, she had told me many thought-provoking things that people of our culture can hardly think of.
Women's Role and Religious Rules in Hinduism
For this woman, religion is, first of all, a strong binding link to Indian culture and tradition of her ancestors. She told me that Hinduism defines almost all things in the life of orthodox Hindus. When the Hindu child comes into this life, he/she is already placed into some social caste. Hindus believe that the caste they are born in depends on human deeds in the previous life. If they were good enough, they reincarnate in a higher caste. For example, the womanI interviewed was born in the Brahman caste, which is considered to be the highest one among the four Hindu castes.
According to this fact, one of her earliest memories of religion was a day when her father did not let her come up close to a girl of the same age (she was around 5-6 years old), because that girl was from the caste of the untouchables. It proves that Hinduism looks more like a social order than faith for the majority of people. I asked if all people are satisfied with the regulations they get from religion. She said that it is a bit difficult question, because the Hindu population is presented by people of absolutely different social statuses; therefore, it has some sense. However, the regulations are too strict sometimes.
Another memory she has shared with me was a memory from her college time. Her best friend suffered, because she loved a boy from another caste, and her parents did not allow her to marry him just because of this reason. A lot of young people from Hindu families face this problem, and it cannot be solved, because rich parents do not want to mix their blood with the representatives of the middle classes. Everybody pays attention to the economic factor, and almost nobody cares that their child will suffer without a person he or she loves.
Speaking about a women’s role, there were some awful religious rules, “which, thanks God, do not exist anymore”. For example, every Hindu widow should have been burnt alive on the funeral pyre together with her dead husband, because the tradition claimed that it would clean the karma of the next seven generations of their family. This ritual shows the place of Hindu woman in society pretty well. Hindu woman was perceived not like an independent human being but an additional detail to her man that is able to give birth to children. It is good to know that such barbarian traditions have already fallen into oblivion, and the modern Western winds bring the issue of women’s rights to India.
As for her own status of woman in the family, the interviewee told that her husband is a caring man who follows the tradition in the limits of common sense. Of course, she also had to experience the marriage with a person chosen by her parents, but she found herself feeling comfortable near him. He does not drink, smoke, and eat meat as well as all orthodox Hindus. Sometimes, she feels that people try to express their compassion to the phenomenon of such marriages, but she says that everything depends on God and a person who is a follower of Hinduism. “If a person is educated and well-mannered, he will never hurt anybody, because he knows that social norms should be different for different times.” I agree with such a statement and think that any violence towards women that is called a religious rule has no excuse to exist in the 21st century.