‘Water Wives’ to the cause!

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India is replete of ironies. The country where a bride’s family believe in deification of a “specky-10 lakh packaged-so called educated groom” who asks for Dowry; or where being a woman, some mother-in-law asks her son to strangle that newly-born tiny little girl; or even where a Chief Minister of a state publicly uses derogatory remarks for the PRIME MINISTER, and later on cries for ” Curbing freedom of Speech” can only happen in India.

Well the new irony is, the Water Wives of India. Denganmal, is a small village in the state of Maharashtra with a population of only 500 people. A tiny, but parched place where all the residents are acquainted with each other. With no water tapes available and for say no water available, the female members of the family have to complete a task that generally takes 12 hours. It is a place experiencing drought-like conditions during the summer months. The heat is so unbearable and severe that the water in the wells dry up and the cattle cannot survive. The villagers carry vessels to nearby rivers or wells to bring water for their family. It sometimes takes up 12 hours to go there and return home.

Sakharam Bhagat, a resident of that village was unable to bear the pressure and thought of an eccentric idea, leaving us all bewildered. He has married three women,TukiSakhri and Bhaagi who help to bring ‘Water’ for the family. Sakharam and Tuki have 6 children and at a young age, slowly it became difficult for her to manage work alone and leave her little ones for so long a period as 12 hours to fetch water for various purposes. Aware of this situation, Sakharam decided on bringing a second wife, Sakhri,  as a helping hand for Tuki. Sakhram as he said had no option and he married again to Bhaggi. Now, Wife two and three goes on to fill water, leaving the house at sunrise, and Tuki looks after the children. It is a tedious task for women as each carry almost 2 pitchers weighing 15 Liters approximately each. They are now famous in the village by the name of ‘Paani Bais’ or ‘Water Wives’.

Namdeo, another villager also found it to be an idea so bright thereby bringing a second wife for the first one, Shivarti and Bagabai respectively. They say it is also a suitable idea as it help widows in the village to attain a respectable position by getting married again. And as said and done, it has become a common practice.

Polygamy is outlawed in Hindu culture and system of marrying multiple woman leaves me a bit confused, whether to be happy about the widows or feel sorry for them to be married as ‘Paani Bais’, to look at the positive side of their getting a respectable position or feel sad about the psychological agony they go through? The question hangs in the air and I’m sure people will be ready for all sorts of debate on this topic, but all I feel is a bit distress about the forlorn lives of these villagers and our gloomy future. If the need of water in a village can lead to this, then scarcity of water in this world might lead to its end too!

About The Author

Gauri Bhardwaj

Gauri Bhardwaj (MCM College 36)

According to me, a person without the hunger for knowledge requires to have a new birth. I simply believe in four beautiful words, ‘Humility’, ‘Positivity’, ‘Passion’ and ‘Knowledge’.

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