In a radical departure from set convention, well known saint and Ram Kathavachak Morari Bapu has advocated reform in Hindu rituals so as to provide girls the right to perform last rites.
Bapu, who believes in ‘Pravahi Parampara’ (flowing tradition), has been speaking for progressive norms in the 21st century and feels there should be no stagnancy in religious beliefs.
Responding to a query in Haryana about whether girls should be allowed to perform last rites of her parents in the absence of a male sibling, Morari Bapu said, “I have been saying this for a long while now; girls should be allowed to conduct the last rites when a male progeny is not there.”
“In fact, even if the girl has a brother, both the girl and the boy should do the last rites together,” Bapu said.
The famous kathakar added he was happy to note that a lot of people have already begun this new convention of allowing girls to conduct last rites after listening to his views.
Morari Bapu went on to exhort people to also celebrate the birth of a girl child.
“Why are mothers-in-law the first to be unhappy at the birth of a girl? Who were they, I would like to ask? Were they not born as baby girls as well?” he queried.
“There should be festivities when the first born is a girl. I am a firm believer of this.”
On being questioned whether celebrations should be only for first born girls and not necessarily when the second and third girl child is born, especially when the “much sought after son” remains elusive, Bapu quipped, “I can advocate celebrations for at least seven daughters, because Lord Krishna has named seven female vibhutis (divine opulence) of his! These are kirti (fame), sree (auspicious beauty), vak (speech), smrtir (memory), medha (discerning intelligence), dhritih (fortitude) and ksama (forgiveness).”
Though Bapu made the statement about welcoming seven girls, he has indicated in the past that Ram Charit Manas supports family planning as shown by the example of Lord Ram and his brothers, each of whom had only two children.
The idea behind Bapu’s entire discourse was clearly to dissuade people from thinking that begetting a son is necessary for salvation.
“I urge people not to put foetuses through sex determination tests,” he pronounced emphatically and requested people to welcome both girls and boys alike.
The remarks came significantly during a Katha being held in Gurgaon, which is the commercial hub of Haryana. Female foeticide is hugely prevalent in the state and has led to a skewed sex ratio which is now creating problems of brides having to be “imported” from other states.
Bapu has frequently been speaking against female foeticide at several fora and during recitation of Katha. In Punjab and Gujarat too, where this evil practice is quite prevalent, Bapu has hit out against those who indulge in the crime of killing the girl child in the womb.