When My WhatsApp Status on ‘Mogra Gajra’ Angered My Parents

It was Ekadashi, the day of Lord Vishnu. As a Vaishnav, my mother had fasted that day and had gone to get milk from the dairy. On her way back, she bought a gajra – a bunch of mogra (jashmine) flower buds tied together by a white thread. When she reached home, she asked if I wanted to wear it.

I told her that I wanted to click some pictures of the gajra to post as my WhatsApp status, but she didn’t approve of that. “It’s not good,” she said.

When I asked for a reason, she didn’t say anything.

I though I had won the argument and went ahead and posted the pictures with a big smile on my face.

That evening, I went to the kitchen to make chapattis for myself because my mother was fasting. While I was preparing the dough, my father suddenly called me, “Sapu…!” – I knew that strict tone.

Since he was also fasting like my mother, I thought he was just being mad at me because of his empty stomach. But I also had a feeling that he had probably seen my WhatsApp status.

“Yes,” I said unconsciously. “Just putting the chapatti on the tava (pan).”

“Come now!” he said.

When I went to him, feeling a bit scared, he asked me why I posted the picture.

“I just posted it,” I said instinctively.

My father, an army dad, said: “Your character is loose. What are you trying to say by posting this picture? Do you want to be like Rakhi Sawant?”

I don’t know how Rakhi Sawant was connected to that picture. Also, what was so wrong about me wearing a gajra and posting a picture of it online?

My mother said that the only ladies who dance at people’s homes and party places wear gajras and therefore it is not considered good in our culture.

I didn’t know that the flowers that are worn by almost every lady in South India – married or unmarried – could be stigmatised like this.

If I wear something that dancers wear, how does that make me one among them? How can a garland that is worn by goddesses, and is considered pure, mean something else altogether in my house, my culture?

Besides, the photo didn’t show anything except my black hair and the white beautiful flowers – how does that make me someone with a ‘loose’ character? When you can’t even see my face or even the neck in the picture, how can you assume that I am trying to attract someone or seeking male attention?

Now, I know why children block their parents on social media – to hide their stories, posts and statuses.

When I tried arguing with my parents, my phone was taken away and I was asked to never post anything without taking their permission.

I never thought that such a small thing like a mogra gajra could cause so much anger.

Now when I think of it, I feel I lost to my mother and my father because I couldn’t explain to them what those flowers meant to me. Unlike their beliefs, those flowers signified purity and happiness to me. They brought a smile to my face when my mom came back from the dairy and said, “I brought something for you.”

Shalinee Mishra is a first-year journalism student at Bennett University, Greater Noida.

Featured image provided by the author