Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/484

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44 S Some Matrimonial Problems of India.

a strong example of it. In Kangra, where the bluest of blue-blooded Rajputs live, a fire occurred in a Rajput's house, when none of the males of the household were at home. The serving maids all escaped with ease, but the two Rajput ladies in the house preferred to remain inside and burn to death to going out and being seen by other men.

So, again, certain native papers record with obvious approval instances of the suicide of women on the death of their husbands, and there is no doubt that there would be plenty of genuine suttees, did not all who abet the sacrifice stand the chance of the severest punishment. Of course the prohibition of suttee for so long has to some extent dissipated the desire for it, but it is impossible to bring up generations after generations of high-class Hindu ladies in the belief that they should hasten to join their lords in the next world, without finding that a number to this day regret bitterly the necessity of remaining alive. Life is dear, and many did object in the past, but more took a pride in doing the right thing as understood by their community.

After all, all change to be of value must be slow in movement. Our Revolution was far more successful and bloodless than that of the French. The present position of the fair sex in this country has only been achieved after centuries of gradual change. Christianity has done much, and the age of chivalry did more, but the mediaeval times held women in greater subjection than at present.

So, too, we must see glimpses of a better time in the western Punjab in the refusal of some widows to marry their brothers-in-law, and in mothers taking cash for their daughters in preference to letting their stepsons collect for themselves.

A. J. O'Brien.