When her husband and two sons abandoned Jagwati Devi eight years ago, her daughter gave her shelter and took care of the 85-year-old’s needs.
When Devi died about a week ago, her husband and sons refused to even perform her last rites. Like always, her post-graduate daughter Manju Pal was there for her mother.
Much to the chagrin of the family’s other male relatives, Pal decided to perform the last rites as a ceremonial ‘son’.
According to Hindu religio-social norms only a male close relative of a dead person can do it.
She did not even listen when her relatives warned her to desist from usurping an act usually performed only by a son or other male relative.
Pal not only lit the pyre at the cremation ground at Hindon on August 21, she also wore male attire, including a pagdi (headgear) during the Rasam pagdi ceremony, leaving the rest of her family seething at her ‘audacity’.
“Even when my mother died, my father and brothers refused to come and perform her last rites though I called them many times…her body lay in wait for hours”, wept Pal, a mother of two, and a resident of Subhash Nagar.
“Though my male relatives opposed it bitterly, I still decided to do what was required of her son –– perform her last rites” she added.
Though her family has vowed to snap links with her, Pal seemed undaunted. She said she only did what her brothers failed to do.
“It’s about what we can do for our parents and not the gender of the doer”.