Rajput Child Rearing Practices
Focused on the Rajputs of Rajasthani
When a male turns 12 he moves into the males’ quarters. This is when the role of the father becomes more prominent. This is the age they must learn the masculine values. The fathers maintain stricter discipline of their sons. This includes teaching them how to be assertive, and who in the village is their ally or enemy. Males do not let their children interact with any member of a family that his own is at odds with. In contrast, women allow the children to play together because they remain socially passive towards conflict (Singer 2007). Another important influence in a young male’s life is his brothers. As the men get married and have their own families, it often becomes crowded and one or more of the brothers will move out. While this is fairly common, it is frowned upon because as a child you are taught loyalty and respect towards your brother and father; indeed this is very much valued and required. When a son moves away, one brother always has to take to blame and responsibility.
All practices outlined above are done for one reason: to carry on the traditions and values of the Rajput culture through creating model members of society. They raise their children to be proud of the Rajput legacy and its royal warrior status. There are specific roles that members of each gender must play in this society, and failure to do so is not an option. Men should have the traits of a protector and leader; bravery, honor, and strength are key aspects of this image (Singer 2007). The only focus a female should have is their husband and family. When children are of marriageable age, their parents will arrange a marriage, because unmarried children are seen to be too ignorant of the world to choose their own spouse. For a woman this means being relocated from her village to her new husband’s home, which is usually of a higher social class. This complete change in a woman’s life is what she has been prepared for her entire life through the values instilled in her by her family. It is also the reason women were traditionally discouraged from being educated. This is seen as a danger to a woman’s focus on the family and could cause dissatisfaction in her life. While the women are raised to become wives, the men are raised to become the provider for their family, as well as taught how to uphold their family’s honor and social standing by asserting dominance over the socially inferior. Rajputs have historically been warriors and soldiers, and their villages have been full of kings and royalty. By the time India declared independence any government recognition of this lineage was not recognized. However, men are still raised to uphold their royal standings and warrior status (Encyclopedia of World Cultures 1999). As mentioned, praises and encouragement through childhood are nonexistent to the child even when learning to walk or talk. This is believed to teach a lack of self-reliance and dependence on the family who is always most important. Although several traditions have been modified in modern times, the Rajput child rearing practices and goals remain largely set apart from American practices. In fact, they could be seen as opposites in the way that Rajputs practice dependence training while Americans practice independence training. The difference is that American children are raised to survive on their own and succeed independently while Rajputs are focused on succeeding for their family and raised to surround their lives around their familial responsibilities. One of the most prominent ways this is manifested is through the differing views on education. While men are now highly encouraged to get an education for the purpose of gaining a respectable occupation, women are not encouraged to be educated nearly as much. Modernly, it is now seen as possibly a good thing to have an educated wife because she would be able to raise smarter children and be able to be a better companion to her husband. However, even with that new outlook, the customary view that education causes a woman to be too independent has a strong presence. This can be seen through the literacy rates of the Rajput men versus the women; the men’s rate is much higher than the women’s. In fact, 60% of females in the Rajasthan area are said to drop out of school before completing their elementary education (Harlan). This is considered very unusual by American standards because education regardless of gender is the most important part of becoming a successful citizen. Another child rearing difference is the concept of chores. American children are assigned chores to not only help their family but mostly to teach responsibility, and often times how to earn money through hard work. This is nonexistent in Rajput culture as manual labor is seen as beneath them due to their royal lineage, and all work around the house being done by servants. This goes back to idea that American children are raised to be successful through working hard, while Rajput citizens are to maintain their social hierarchy and dominance over the inferior.
The people of Rajasthani maintain an overall loyalty to their traditional culture. The modern era has changed some customs slightly, such as the recognition of royalty and their views on women’s education, however the traditional enculturation of their youth is still remains. There are many drastic differences in this culture compared to the American view of creating a successful child. However, the Rajput’s are an excellent example of how the westernized view of child rearing is not the only way to create well-adjusted functioning members of society.
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