One day I was having a nice conversation with my grandson who had come from Poland. He said, ‘I will be celebrating coming of age ceremony next year’. ‘But you already had one three years ago when you had your bartabanda!’ I replied.
Some time ago, during the engagement ceremony of a relative, the purohit mentioned something about ‘baak daan’. That reminded me of kanya daan. I have always felt very uneasy about kanya daan. I feel the very words transform a girl into an object that can be given away. Not just the Hindus, even the westerners ‘give away the bride’. This prompted me to further explore the term kanya daan, which is a tradition passed on from generation to generation. It is religiously sanctioned and socially accepted. I have not found anything against it in religious scriptures either, nor could I find out when it started. But one thing was clear: a girl is a ‘kanya’ before puberty, before she menstruates. Since she needed to be ‘donated’ as per tradition, child marriage naturally followed.