At a time when crime against women is on the rise and common notion prevails among people that a girl child is an additional responsibility, there are people who are breaking the stereotype and setting a new trend.
'Kua Pujan', a social custom among Hindus is performed to welcome the birth of male child was challenged in Sirsa when the then additional deputy commissioner Pankaj Chaudhary called on women to do the same in case of a girl's birth. Chaudhary launched a campaign to be a part of 'Kua Pujan' on the birth of a female child.
Panchayat of Bibipur village in Jind district had hit the headlines in July when khap panchayats and village women came out to raise voice against female foeticide and other social issues.
Taking a cue from Bibipur village, woman sarpanch of Dhani Miya Khan in Fatehabad district announced a cash prize of Rs. 51,000 to anyone tipping about sex-determination tests and illegal abortions being carried out in the village.
Several such panchayats were held in various village of the state during that period.
On August 2, Rajesh Kumar, a poor worker who ekes out a living by painting walls of people, organised "Kuan Pujan" on the birth of their fourth girl child at a village in Fatehabad. "I do not think there is a difference between boys and girls, especially when women are excelling in all fields nowadays," said Sarla, wife of Rajesh.
Sirsa member of Parliament Ashok Tanwar was invited by a couple of Ludesar village in Sirsa to be part of celebrations on the birth of their third daughter in September. Most recently, a Dalit family of Randhawa village under Sirsa district broke the age-old custom and banged 'thali' on the birth of female child. The change was ushered in the family by the efforts of a social organisation, Nai Subah, which is motivating village clubs in the Chopta region to spread awareness about female foeticide.
Vakil Singh, 22, who is pursuing an ITI course from Sirsa government college and whose wife Sonu, 20, gave birth to a girl child on November 5 told Hindustan Times: "When we banged 'thali', a custom associated with the birth of a male child, neighbours came rushing to congratulate us for the birth of a boy." The neighbours raised eyebrows when they were told that it was a girl and not a boy. However, Vakil and his relatives are happy on having a girl as a new family member. Bhajan Lal, 50, grandfather of the newborn girl, said: "This is the first child of my son Vakil and we are performing all customs, from 'Badhai Banthna' to 'Kua Pujan', distribution of shugan and laddoos in our village."
Gudi Devi, 48, grandmother of Radhika (newborn girl) said, "When my daughter-in-law was in labour room at the civil hospital, a nurse tending to her came to me and said she deserves a 'badhai' of Rs. 500, in case a boy is born."
"She came with long face out of labour room and broke the news, but I extended her 'badhai' on the arrival of my granddaughter," Gudi Devi said.
Sube Singh Chaharwala, president of Nai Subah, said, "The Happy Club of Randhawa village took pains to convince a Dalit family to celebrate the birth of female child like a boy."
Jatinder Parsad, head of department of sociology at MDU, Rohtak, said: "These developments represent a paradigm shift in the attitude of people, but still we can't say it has become a common trend."
He said: "The general trend is breaking pitchers on the birth of girl child, while banging 'thali' is associated with the birth of a boy, but if a Dalit family challenges customs set by high class, it's a welcome change."
Advocate Balbir Kaur Gandhi, a social activist associated with Janwadi Mahila Samiti, said: "We still need to do a lot in this field but more can be done when equal status is given to the girl child."