Imatges de pÓgina

legislation as Mr. Melvill and my friends Mr. Justice West and Mr. Justice Scott have suggested. Mr. West's draft seems to meet some of the objections Mr. Melvill had foreseen.




1. KRISHNASWAMI RAO CHIEF JUSTICE TRAVANCORE.-As a rule widowed girls are allowed, until they attain the age of 18 or 20, to retain their locks, wear jewels and flowers, and to have meals, as their more fortunate sisters under coverture. But the strong but silent disapproval with which society looks upon these innocent enjoyments of the unfortunate young widow, and the example of others in her position, make her seek the miseries of widowhood, in preference to the comforts allowed to her by her loving parents and relatives. It is as a concession to the young widow's repeated entreaties, that the parents and relations often consent to the performance of the most melancholy rite of tonsure. I do not deny that there are bigoted men, who in their religious fervour have subjected girls, 7 or 8 years old, to all the miseries of perpetaal widowhood, but their number was never large and is now dwindling. I may even say that such men are now very rare phenomena.

The social ill usage to which Mr. Malabari refers, is always of a negative character, such as refusal direct or indirect, to associate with a married widow or her husband, or her active sympathizers in meals, religious ceremonies, and in social gatherings.

From what has recently passed in Madras in connection with the bulls of excommunication issued by one of the leading muttadipathis one might legitimately infer that priests in the long run would be not disposed to exercise the power of ex. communication, if by the exercise of it they would lose a large number of their wealthy disciples......

I need hardly add that both the widow who remarries and her husband will for a long time to come be deserters of their families and that they would, therefore, require support until the innovation becomes popular.

2. C. RAMCHANDRA AIYAR.-In practice, even to this day it is a fact that a betrothed girl is considered unfit and unqualified to accomplish religious ceremonies or join her husband in their performance, before actual consummation of the marriage takes place.

The legislation I have above* proposed will have the immediate effect of putting a stop to the most cruel and heartrending scene of every day's occurrence viz taking the betrothed girl losing her husband to the burning ground on the first day, and again on the 10th day making her wear all her jewels and good clothes and deck her hair with flowers and ornaments as the last day that she can use them or enjoy such luxury in her life, while all this time the unfortunate child is unconscious of the significance of the ceremony. Such a girl has nothing to do with the burning of the body, which is done in a great majority of cases, by the brothers or father of the deceased. Such a girl, however young she may be, is denied the privilege of mixing with the betrothed girls of her age in singing, wearing orna: nents &c., and of doing all that married girls are required to do on occasions of marriage or auspicious ceremonies at home and elsewhere. Such an infant girl is denied the privilege of going to temples on festive occasious and enjoying the sight of a festival, as other married girls of her age do. The most melancholy scene of all is the so-called widowed infant girl not knowing the reason of exclusion, asking her parents how she had offended them or others, and why she was not treated as a married girl, and the parents then beginning to weep over the misfortune of the girl.

* i.e. that no betrothed girl should be treated as a wife before consummation.


3. S. SUBRAMANIA AIYAR.-There can also be no question of the vast miseries caused by enforced widowhood, but it is hard to believe that an order of things affecting a considerable portion of the female population should have been the outcome of mere caprice of the stronger sex.

4. P. CHENTSAL R40.—The real difficulty is the feat of excommunication which not only degrades the man ex-communicated in the eyes of his fellows, but also puts him to very great inconvenience, since he cannot easily get caste servants and priests for the performance of ceremonies which cannot be given up without loss of caste.

5. M. TILLAINAYAGAM Pillai, DEPUTY COLLECTOR, MADURA — The hardest heart has felt the evil of widowhood, but it has yielded to custom-a cruel and inhumane custom-that prevails in the caste. I have known instances of respectable men, who were ornaments to the Hindu Society, having met with premature deaths, broken-hearted and unable to bear the misfortune that befell their beloved daughters. A Hindu family with a young widow is in perpetual misery, and gloom prevails in it.....

It is gravely asserted by the orthodox Brahmins that a woman becomes a widow by the result of her Karma in the previous births, and that it is a sin to allow her to marry again. This is something like misers. preaching it to be a sin to help the indigent, who by the result of their Karma have been destined to be poor. No amount of argument can convince these men, even if they are really serious.

It is argued by some that though the widows in India are more than double those in Europe, yet the unmarried women in the latter are nearly double those in India............I must ask these gentlemen to consider the difference between the conditions of women leading lives of celibacy of their own accord, enjoying all the innocent comforts and pleasures of life, and those of the Hindu widows who are looked down upon


as inauspicious sinful creatures, destined to live miserably without the comforts and pleasures of life.

The Brahmin character is peculiar in this respect. He is prepared to overlook the commission of the greatest of sins.

.... but would not brook ( that ) his daughter or sister (should ) marry after she obtains puberty, or see her married, even if she becomes a widow when an infant, and he is the cause of her misfortune. He associates freely with a Brahmin murderer, dacoit, perjurer, forgerer, adulterer, whore-monger, drunkard, or eater of animal food, provided the latter is liberal and opens his purse freely, but the Brahmin will not associate with one who marries a virgin widow or a girl who has attained puberty, though she may be his kith and kin, in whom all his hopes are centered. He has no scruples to live with a Brahmin woman who may be known to be unchaste, but he will not admit into his society the unfortunate virgin widow who chooses. to marry herself to a second husband. I have mentioned this anomolous state of things in order to show the strong prejudice that unfortunately exists against the introduction of the remarriage of widows among the most intelligent and powerful section of the Hindu community.

6. T. PATTABHIRAM Esq.—He (Mr. Malabari ) speaks as if there are 40 million Hindu widows, while according to the latest census the figure is only 16 (1,61,17,135) (Census of 1881 Vol. I. page 88.)

To a Hindu caste widow who makes up her mind to resume her married state at the risk of caste, religion, and the affection and society of her relations, there now exists no obstruction to marrying a caste Hindu, if she succeeds in finding one, who is willing, or a Christian or a Mahomedan.



7. MAHIPATRAM RUPRAM.— Without going to thejlength of charging one and all young widows with wicked conduct,


I can safely say that a large number of them go astray, and the consequences are horrible. Attempts at procuring abortions, which in some cases terminate in death, and murders of pregnant widows by their relatives, are the results. These abortions deaths and murders seldom come to light. Pregnant widows are not unfrequently taken away to distant places, and there such crimes are committed. When such attempts fail, infanticide is resorted to. I have not seen these things myself, but such is the general belief among the people, and there is I have no doubt, much truth in it. The unfortunate miserable widows excite our compassion on account of the unnatural and unjust caste rules which permit a widower to take a second wife freely, but prevent the widow under all circumstances from taking a second husband. Breaches of all other caste rules and religious ordinances are condoued, but the prohibition of widow marriage is always enforced with extraordinary severity All the high castes combine against those who disregard it, and Do penalties and no bribes to heads of castes and priests can mitigate its rigour. Hindu society prefers to wink at the crimes of the widow rather than allow her to remarry. No notice is taken of well-known irregularities of conduct; proved abortion and desertion of infants are pardoned ; and even conviction in a Court of Justice does not exclude a widow for ever from caste and society. But the marriage of a widow even with a member of her own caste is considered a more heinous crime than all these put together. It is an unpardonable offence, and all possible means are adopted to persecute the unhappy woman and man who defy the prohibition, and all who keep social intercourse with them.

8. LALLUBHAI NUNDLAL-I am inclined to think that widowhood falls rather heavily on minors, and it may be well to allow them to remarry by all means.

9. JOTEERAO GOVINDRAO PHULAY.--She (the widow) is stripped of her ornaments, she is forcibly shaved by her near relations, she is not well-fed, she is not properly clothed, she is not allowed to join pleasure-parties, marriages or religiou

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