Bhilwara— A heart-wrenching incident has surfaced in Ratanpura village of Bhilwara, where a family resorted to an unconventional way to express their deep sorrow upon learning about their daughter's decision to elope with an unsanctioned partner.
They treated their daughter as if she were no longer alive and distributed a mourning announcement (shok patrika) having her picture affixed on it, informing the community of her demise and about the upcoming mourning feast (gaurani/mrityu bhoj) on the 13th day that would be observed in accordance with Hindu customs to honor the departed.
This shocking case came to light in the Mangrop police station area of the district as the shok patrika went viral on social media evoking mixed responses. The family distributed the condolence notice stating that their daughter had passed away on June 1. This patrika has gone viral on social media since the past two days. A Gaurani (funeral feast) has been organized on June 13 at 9 in the morning. The notice has exactly the same pattern and style as it is customary to be printed and circulated by aggrieved families to inform the community of a demise .
A family residing in Mangrop police station area had arranged the marriage of their minor daughter in a village under the Sadar police station area of Bhilwara. The alliance was fixed in their childhood and the children had developed love feelings for each other.
However, after a dispute between the two families, the girl's parents broke off the relationship and arranged a new one. But the girl wanted to marry the person with whom the relationship was fixed earlier, which the family did not agree to. On May 17, the girl parked her two wheeler outside a bank in Hamirgarh and eloped with her fiancée. The girl's family registered a missing case at Hamirgarh police station, while the boy's relatives gave a report in the Sadar police station.
The Hamirgarh police were searching for the girl, and she presented herself with the young man at the Sadar police station on June 1. The girl said she completed 18 years on May 27 and is an adult now. The girl told the police that they have got married as per the Arya Samaj traditions and expressed her desire to live with her husband . The parents counseled her, but the girl even refused to recognize them and blankly refused to go with her family , which hurt her parents. They broke off the relationship and declared their daughter dead.
The relatives decided to perform Gourni (death feast) for their daughter while she was still alive. The declared her dead on June 1 and announce a mourning for the next 12 days to be culminated with a Peehar Gaurani, a ritual of holding community feast for the peace of departed soul.
According to learned experts, although the matter at hand is of a familial nature and the parents' actions stem from a place of sentimentality, it is not a justifiable course of action and may leave the daughter in a vulnerable position. Speaking to The Mooknayak, Dr. Shailendra Pandya, a former member of the Rajasthan State Commission for the Protection of Children Rights, opines that such incidents are rooted in the maladies of child marriage. The parents had arranged the marriage of their children at a young age, which accentuated their affection for each other at a tender age where they were not mature enough to make informed decisions about their own well-being.
The parents' decision to sever ties with their daughter after her marriage sends a wrong message to others, and in case of any future ill-treatment at her in-laws' house or domestic violence, she would have no recourse. She may fall prey to traffickers if left helpless or homeless. Additionally, the parents' action does not eliminate the daughter's rights to inheritance in the ancestral property.
Furthermore, Dr. Pandya suggests that counseling is the need of the hour for both the parents and the daughter. The parents need to comprehend that their daughter is an adult and has the right to make her own decisions. They should also be apprised of the legal implications of declaring their daughter dead. On the other hand, the daughter needs to be counseled about the repercussions of eloping without the consent of her family members. She should also be made aware of her legal rights and the support systems available to her in case of any future problems. "It is crucial to address such issues with sensitivity and understanding, keeping in mind the well-being of all parties involved" he said.