Indian culture is very much comprised of tradition. The religion is based on sacred texts passed down from memory, the caste system put in place by the Aryans survived for centuries and social taboos are inherited generation after generation. The film “Water” portrays an aspect of Indian culture that deals with social taboos, religious tradition and social status. “Water”, set in 1 938, examines the lives of a group of women who, after being widowed, are rejected by society and are reduced to poverty.
This movie brings greater understanding to the treatment of women in Indian culture, the social class system and the effect Mahatma Gandhi had on the social outcasts of India. 1 938 India was a patriarchal society. Women were not allowed to inherit property and were legally considered minors. Women were subordinate not only to their husbands but also their sons. The women of India were considered economic burdens. For this reason women were married Off at young ages. Being a woman in India seems like a huge feat but, as shown in the movie “Water, the women of India do not seem to question their status.
They accept their position in obedience. A scene involving an Indian woman, whose husband is a member of the Brahmins class, displays frustration with the fact that her husband is rarely home. This gives the viewer a glimpse of how little women were respected in even the highest of social classes. The caste system of India was divided into a priestly class, warrior class, merchant class, peasants, and the untouchables whom were not even thought to be part of the social caste system. In the film a closer glimpse of the caste system is shown.
Water’ depicts the unfortunate circumstance where a nine year old girl who was recently married, suddenly becomes widowed. Unfortunately widows are not even regarded like women but are considered untouchable. In one scene a widow goes down to the river to draw water in close proximity to a wedding. The widow is told to make sure her shadow does not touch the bride. A budding romance is chronicled in the film as well between a widow and a man from the Brahmins class. The film reveals how taboo this romance is.
When the man tells his mother he IS In eve with a widow she immediately scorns him and reminds him that it is a sin to marry a widow. The lives of the untouchables seemed daunting. However, no one sympathized with or gave a voice to this group until Mahatma Gandhi began to revolutionize India with his message of love. Gandhi championed women’s rights and worked to end intractability. His method of protest was civil disobedience and his influence reached not only the outcasts but the most influential people in Indian society.
Towards the end of the film word begins o spread in the ghettos of Sandhog’s message. One widow decides to follow the mob of people who were gathering to hear Gandhi speak. She seems hopeful after hearing his message and that moment gives insight into how much Sandhog’s message was needed by these shunned people. She desperately wants to save the young widow from the terrible life she, herself, had to live. That desperation brought her to Gandhi and in blind faith gives the young widow to Gandhi to be saved. “V’/eater” is a film that gives a deeper understanding to Indian culture.
More pacifically it gives insight into the way women were regarded. Women were not viewed as equal to men and were considered a financial burden. Also the film gave a detailed view of social standings in India. Widows were considered untouchable. It was considered a sin to marry a widow and taboo to even touch them. Sandhog’s influence and message of love touched people in all social standings. He gave hope to the social outcasts and opened the minds of those who enjoyed higher social rankings to view the untouchables as human beings who need and deserve love too.