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Widowed radio jockey defies male priests, performs daughter's marriage rituals

IANS | January 21, 2024 08:43 AM

PANAJI: While the Goa Assembly in its last session had discussed ways to stop ‘widow discrimination’, the wedding ceremony of two doctors has set an example of giving dignity to widows by allowing the bride's widowed mother to perform the religious rituals.

Dr Gautami Yograj Naik and Dr Prathamesh Prafullchandra Dicholkar tied the knot recently. Usha Naik, the widowed mother of Gautami, performed the religious rituals.

Usha Yogrjaj Naik, a Goa radio jockey from All India Radio, told IANS that it was her daughter's wish that she should perform the rituals. “I did it only to make my daughter happy. I was not aware that the marriage of my daughter will become unique and set a new trend with the step we have taken. Many people complimented us for this new tradition and encouraged us, ” Naik said.

She said that her family fully supported her while taking this step.

This seems to be the first marriage, where a widow has performed the religious rituals, which otherwise are performed by the father and mother together under the supervision of priests. Taking note of it many people have complimented the families of the bride and groom for the new tradition they have set.

After some Hindu priests refused to accept the new trend of allowing a widow to perform the religious rituals, the two families did not give up. They contacted Pune-based institution Dnyanprabodhini, from where two Purohits -- both women -- flew down from Mumbai and conducted the rituals.

Speaking to IANS, Shama Punekar, the Purohit from Mumbai, said that everyone was happy with this marriage where a widow performed the rituals.

“This seems to be the first marriage in Goa where a widow has performed the rituals. People who attended the wedding appreciated it and I think society should take it positively, ” Punekar said.

According to her, when a man who is a widower can perform the rituals, then a widow should also be given the opportunity. “It is not the mistake of a woman if her husband dies, then how can we deter a woman from living her life fully. They should be given full respect, ” she said, adding that they have a team of 13 and 50-odd women Purohits, in Mumbai and Pune respectively.

Gautami Naik said that her mother’s aim was always to see her happy. “This made sense that she does it as I didn’t want to give this right to anyone else, ” she said.

Leader of the Opposition Yuri Alemao, who had raised the issue of widow discrimination in the Goa assembly, also complimented both the families for taking a bold step.

“A new era begins in Goa with a widow Usha Naik performing the wedding rituals of her daughter. Compliments to both the families who supported this pioneering initiative. Let this moment inspire the government of Goa to bring a law against widow discrimination, ” Alemao stated.

He referred to his Private Member Resolution on “Unjust Practise of Widow Discrimination & Disrobing of Men & Women during Funerals” which was widely discussed in the Goa assembly session on March 31, 2023.

“I was assured by the Minister for Women and Child Development Vishwajit Rane to bring a law in the next assembly session. However nothing has moved till date. I hope the step taken by Dr Gautami will push the government two steps further to bring a law in the coming session of the assembly, ” said Alemao.

“The entire Naik-Dicholkar family deserves huge compliments from every citizen of the country. This step has sent a message to all of spreading happiness and being kind to all. Let us all cherish this moment with positivity, ” Alemao added.

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