Gandhiji's View on Child Marriage

Gandhiji in his autobiography said Even though I would have preferred not to write this chapter, I am aware that throughout the course of this story, I will have to take many more such painful breaths. And if I declare myself to be a worshipper of Truth, I cannot act in any other way. I must painfully disclose here that I got married when I was thirteen. When I look around at the kids my age who are in my care and think of my own marriage, I find myself wanting to feel sorry for myself and to congratulate them on escaping my lot. There is no moral justification for such an absurdly young marriage, in my opinion.

No room for interpretation, please. Not being betrothed, I was married. Because in Kathiawad, the rites of marriage and engagement are separate. The betrothal is a temporary, non-inviolable vow from the boy's and girl's parents to marry their children. The girl does not become a widow as a result of the boy's passing. Children are not included in this arrangement because it is solely between the parents. They frequently don't even know about it. It seems that I was betrothed three times, but I was unaware of it. . I assumed that I had been betrothed three times after hearing that the two girls who had been chosen for me had each passed away in turn. But I seem to recall that the third betrothal happened when I was in my seventh year. However, I don't remember being told about it. I discuss my marriage in this chapter since it is the event I remember most clearly.

We three brothers will always be remembered. The first had a spouse already. My second brother, who was two or three years older than me, a relative who might be a year older, and I were all to be married at the same time by the elders. There was no consideration for either our wishes or even our welfare when doing this. It was merely a matter of their personal economy and convenience.

Hindu marriage is not an easy process. It frequently causes the bride's and groom's parents to go bankrupt. Both their time and their resources are wasted by them. Making costumes and decorations, as well as creating supper budgets, takes months of planning. In terms of the quantity and diversity of courses to be prepared, one seeks to surpass the other. Women sing themselves to exhaustion, even become unwell, and disrupt their neighbours' quiet whether or not they have a voice. These, on the other hand, silently put up with all the commotion and noise, all the mud and filth, which were the leftovers from the feasts, knowing that the time will come when they, too, will act in the same way.

My elders believed that having everyone around at the same time would be preferable. Less costly and more eclat. Money could be freely spent if it only needed to be spent once, as opposed to three times. We were the final offspring my father and uncle had to marry because they were both elderly. . They probably wanted to enjoy their final moments to the fullest. A triple wedding was chosen in light of all of these factors, and as I've already mentioned, months were spent getting ready for it.

We only learned about the impending event because of these precautions. I don't believe it meant much more to me than the possibility of wearing nice clothing, having a strange girl to play with, and seeing marriage processions with drumming. Carnal desire developed later. With the exception of a few noteworthy things, I plan to cover up my humiliation. I'll get to these later. Even yet, they don't really relate to the main theme I kept in mind while I was writing this novel.

So, from Rajkot, my brother and I were both transported to Porbandar. I must overlook certain hilarious details from the preliminary drama to the main event, such as covering our bodies with turmeric paste. Even though he was a Diwan and in the good graces of the Thakore Saheb, my father was still a servant. Until the very last second, the latter would not let him leave. And as soon as he did, he requested special stage coaches for my father, cutting the trip down to two days. The fates, however, had other plans. Rajkot is 120 miles away from Porbandar, requiring a five-day cart ride. My father completed the distance in three stages, but the coach fell over during the third one and was badly hurt. He arrived with numerous bandages. His and our enthusiasm in the ceremony had been partially shattered. Nevertheless, it had to take place. . For what reason could the wedding dates be altered? However, the wedding's infantile humour let me forget my sorrow over my father's injuries.

I loved my parents very much. However, I was just as committed to the passions that the flesh is heir to. I hadn't yet realised that I should sacrifice every joy and pleasure in order to give my parents my undivided attention. However, as if in retaliation for my yearning for pleasure, something happened that has bothered me ever since and which I will discuss in more detail later. No matter how hard you try, Nishkulanand sings, "Renunciation of objects, without the renunciation of wants, is short-lived." This bitter unpleasant experience comes to me whenever I sing this song or hear it sung, making me feel ashamed.

Despite his wounds, my father put on a brave face and participated fully in the wedding. Even now, as I recall it, I can picture the seats he occupied while he described the various elements of the event. Little did I know at the time that I would one day harshly condemn my father for getting married to me when I was so young. On that day, everything appeared correct, proper, and appealing to me. There was also my personal impatience to settle down. . And because I thought that whatever my father did at the time was above reproach, I can still remember those events clearly.

Even now, when I close my eyes, I can still remember how we sat on our wedding days, how we did the Saptapadi, how we, the newlywed couple, ate the delectable Kansar, and how we started our life together. And oh! the first day. Unintentionally throwing themselves into the ocean of existence were two innocent toddlers.
My brother's wife had given me extensive advice about how to act on the first night. I'm not sure who trained my wife. I've never asked her about it, and I don't think I ever will. The reader could assume that we were too frightened to look one other in the eye. We were far too timid. What should I say and how should I speak to her? The coaching did not help me get very far. However, in these situations, coaching is not actually necessary. The effects of the previous delivery are strong enough to render all coaching unnecessary. We eventually got to know one another and started conversing freely. We shared a similar age. However, I didn't waste any time in taking the role of a spouse.

Mahatma Gandhi vehemently opposed the evil custom of child marriage. Such unions were, in his opinion, "ab initio" invalid, and as such, there was no such thing as a marriage.

Sriparna Mukherjee
Amity University, Kolkata

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