I recently watched a shocking movie on DVD about an eight-year-old widow that never got to meet her husband and is secluded in a home strictly devoted to widows. According to Indian tradition, these women must remain in seclusion, apart from the rest of the world, until the end of their lives and are forbidden of ever re-marrying. Even if they are only eight years old and remain virgins. The movie is entitled “Water” and was directed by Deepa Mehta in 2005. An impressive story about the sad fate of widows in India during the past century, before Ghandi's ideas started changing India's traditions. A story about a child, Chuyia and her friend Kalyani, who is forced into prostitution, in order to finance the widow's home but dares to shake tradition by falling in love with a follower of Ghandi who is willing to defy tradition. Meanwhile, these women, aside from being shunned by society, have no money and have to live off charity, while the younger use prostitution to pay for the older's expenses, in a social game everyone is aware of, but tries to ignore.
I was unaware of this issue but this movie harshly questions a religion that imposes such a level of degradation upon women. The movie emotionally deals with women's rights that, to this day, are still influenced by the 'traditional' marriage, where the bride/ groom are chosen by the family. In his book "China an India", Frederico Rampini talks about the caste system in modern-day India, highlighting the strange impulse that leads, to this day, young educated people to marry men and women chosen by their parents. Tradition imposes inhumane rules and only a strong will for freedom can break this impulse to preserve conservative and incomprehensible (to the western world) customs.
As the movie shows, you can control the elderly, forget about them, submit them to horrible conditions, but the children, even in India, will undoubtedly spread their wings and try to fly. Nevertheless, Chuyia's destiny might be different from that of other girls, before her, widows that, after losing their husbands, lost their lives, whose only destiny is to wait for death. A movie that shouldn't be missed.
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