Basic Information 1/3 the size of the U.S. Has more than 1.1. billion people Most Indians live in poverty Two main religions are Hindu (80%) and Muslim (13%) 1757-1947 India is colonized and under the control of the British empire Ruled by British East India Company until 1857, then ruled by the British Crown In 1947, Mahatma Gandhi led the country to independence through a campaign of non-violence action Non-cooperation, civil disobedience, protest and petition
“Divide and Rule” Strategy of British rule was to pit Muslim against Hindu When Britain grants independence to India in 1947 it partitioned (divided) the former colony into two countries Mostly Muslim Pakistan Mostly Hindu India Results in mass chaos as Hindus fled Pakistan and Muslims fled India Tensions still exist between the countries today
Hindu Religion and Culture Lord Krishna is the embodiment of love and divine joy, that destroys all pain and sin. He is the protector of sacred sayings and cows.
Hindu Religion and Culture Hinduism teaches that the soul has many lives and that after each death it returns to earth in different forms to learn the lessons life has to offer The form of your rebirth is dependent on how well the soul lived its previous life In the order of rebirth people are higher forms than animals and men higher forms than women The goal of Hindu religious practice is to liberated from worldly desires and released from the cycle of rebirth and death
In 1938, Hindu culture, and thereby India, was bound by ancient customs and traditions. Although much has changed since Gandhi’s time, most of rural India is still bound by these traditions. Many of these traditions have a religious sanction. This means that although some customs may seem not very ethical they are tied deeply to religious beliefs and are still practiced Caste system Patriarchy Treatment of women, especially widows
Caste System Castes are groups in society ranked by their class which is determined at birth. Caste is often linked to occupation People generally only marry in their caste There are thousands of castes and subcastes Brahman caste is traditionally the most respected and honored. They may read and interpret holy texts The Untouchables are the lowest caste. They are restricted to “unclean” occupations such a toilet cleaning or are removed from society. If Untouchables tried to improve their situations in life, they were subject to brutal repression
Patriarchy A form of social organization in which a male is the family head and title is traced through the male line In Hinduism and Indian society men are considered superior to women. According to religious belief a woman’s life has 3 stages: Stage 1: Under the protection of her father Stage 2: Under the protection of her husband Stage 3: As a widow she is take care of by her eldest son. If there is no male child or he does not want her she is isolated and shunned from society
Treatment of Widows When a husband dies his widow must atone for her sins, which were thought to have contributed to her husband’s death No matter which caste they are born into, widows were (and still are in many cases) assigned to the lowest section of society They are considered bad luck and unclean and are thereby shunned by society
Widows Continued... In the 1930s there were few good choices for a widow in traditional Indian society Sati – burn with her husband’s dead body Live with her eldest son Could only be remarried if her husband’s youngest brother married her Those without a male to provide for them are assigned to a lonely life of prayer Some found haven in ashrams, very strict religious communities Bland meals with no spices Shaved heads Forbidden to wear make-up Required to focus on prayer to Krishna to redeem their souls
Gandhi Thought to be one of the greatest moral and political leaders of the 20 th century A religious Hindu who acknowledged the validity of all religions Developed non-violent resistance to overturn the harshest laws oppressing Indians The crux of Gandhi’s reforms were that certain laws and traditions violated the basic idea that everyone is equal before God Advocated civil rights for the Untouchables, campaigned against child marriage, and supported remarriage for widows
Widows in India Today and the Making of Water Much of India is still very tradition-bound. Widows’ ashrams, similar to the one in the movie, still exist. Many widows are still forced into prostitution to get enough to eat. Hindu fundamentalists felt threatened by the themes of Water. During the first attempts to film the movie individuals rioted, destroyed the film sets, and made death threats against the director. The production was suspended for 5 years. Then the movie was recast and filmed under another name in the country of Sri Lanka.