The Mating Grounds

6 Things You Need to Know About the Bhabhi-Devar Relationship in India

Bhabhi-devar relationship in India

Have you ever heard of “chaadar daalna”? This is a tradition in India, where the sister-in-law (bhabhi) covers her head with a veil and places a sheet over her devar’s (husband’s younger brother) lap.

This act symbolizes the bhabhi’s motherly love for her devar, and it has been practiced for centuries. However, the bhabhi-devar relationship has not always been so innocent.

In the past, there were instances of niyoga, where a widow would be forced to have sexual relations with her deceased husband’s younger brother. This act was meant to ensure that the widow would bear a child and continue the family line.

Thankfully, this practice is no longer prevalent, but it does bring to light the dark history that surrounds this relationship. On the other hand, the bhabhi-devar relationship is also depicted in numerous pop culture references.

For example, in the Mahabharata, Draupadi is married to five brothers, and Arjuna, one of her husbands, is her devar. Similarly, in the Ramayana, Lakshmana has a close relationship with his bhabhi, Sita.

It is also worth mentioning that the famous Bengali author, Rabindranath Tagore, explores the bhabhi-devar relationship in his many works. With the onset of industrialization, attitudes towards the bhabhi-devar relationship began to change.

In modern society, adultery is heavily stigmatized, and societal norms frown upon relationships between married women and younger brothers-in-law. However, pop culture still finds a way to explore the boundaries of this relationship, with the infamous Savita bhabhi comic series being a prime example.

Aadhe Adhoore TV show

Let’s talk about a controversial Indian TV show called Aadhe Adhoore. This show was aired on Zindagi and garnered a lot of attention because of its sensitive subject matter.

It explores the sexual relationship between a bahu (daughter-in-law) and her father-in-law. While some viewers were impressed with the show’s boldness, others were outraged.

They claimed that the show was going against traditional Indian values and was immoral. These naysayers eventually succeeded in having the show taken off the air.

However, despite the criticism, Aadhe Adhoore brought attention to a rarely explored relationship in Indian society. It shed light on the struggles and challenges that women in joint families face.

It also showed the viewers that it is possible to create meaningful art without resorting to tropes and cliches.

Ek Chaadar Maili Si movie

If you are a fan of Bollywood movies, you may have heard of the 1986 film “Ek Chaadar Maili Si”. The movie features Rishi Kapoor and Hema Malini in lead roles and is based on the novel of the same name by Rajinder Singh Bedi.

The plot revolves around a young girl named Neha, who is forced into marrying her devrani’s (husband’s elder brother’s wife) younger brother, Vinod. Neha had a crush on her devrani’s husband, Amar, and is heartbroken when she is compelled to marry Vinod.

The movie explores the strained relationship between Neha and Vinod, who is unable to consummate the marriage due to his love for Neha’s devrani. The movie takes place in a small village in Punjab and is a stark portrayal of the harsh realities that exist in rural India.

It delves into themes of forced marriage and features incestuous undertones, which may be uncomfortable to watch for some viewers. The film is a relevant representation of the bhabhi-devar relationship in Indian society.

It highlights the struggles and complexities that exist within this relationship, particularly in joint families. This relationship is one that has endured throughout history, and the movie does an excellent job of showing the audience the various nuances associated with it.

Evolution and significance of niyoga

The term “niyoga” has its roots in the Rig Veda and refers to the act of delegation. In ancient times, it was considered a religious duty and was performed to ensure that the family lineage continued.

The practice involved a widow being impregnated by her husband’s younger brother to provide the family with a legitimate heir. One of the most famous examples of niyoga is the story of Karan Kumar in the Mahabharata.

Karan Kumar was born out of niyoga, and despite this, he was a respected warrior and prince. It shows that even though the act was not considered socially acceptable, the child born out of it was still valued in society.

Niyoga’s importance was not limited to merely continuing the family line. It was also seen as a religious duty and was believed to be dharma in action.

The act of niyoga was seen as an act of sacrifice that a woman could perform to ensure that her husband’s legacy lived on. However, as society has evolved, the significance of niyoga has changed.

It is no longer considered acceptable to engage in sexual relations outside the confines of marriage. The perception of niyoga has changed from one of duty to one that is associated with carnal pleasure.

Moreover, the emotional components of the bhabhi-devar relationship have become a fundamental aspect of modern Indian society. Relationships between bhabhis and devars are no longer restrained to merely procreation but are also centered around emotional dependence and an innate bond of kinship.

Bhabhi-devar relationship in Mahabharata and Ramayana

The relationship between a bhabhi and devar can be traced back to the epic tales of the Mahabharata and Ramayana. In the Mahabharata, Queen Satyavati requests her deceased son Vichitravirya’s younger brother, Bhishma, to marry and sire children with his widowed daughters-in-law, Ambika and Ambalika.

This request was made to ensure that the Kuru lineage would continue. Ambika and Ambalika were not very pleased with the proposal, and the process leads to the birth of Dhritarashtra and Pandu, one of whom is blind from birth.

In the Ramayana, Lakshmana’s relationship with Sita, his bhabhi, is one of utmost respect. He serves Sita with unwavering devotion and dedication, almost treating her as a mother figure.

This relationship emphasizes the idea that the bhabhi-devar relationship can go beyond the physical act of procreation and, instead, be one of deep emotional bonding. Moreover, the famous Bengali author, Rabindranath Tagore, was so inspired by his wife’s sister, Kadambari Devi, that he dedicated several of his masterpieces to her.

Kadambari Devi was Tagore’s muse, and their relationship highlights the subtleties that can exist in the bhabhi-devar relationship.

ttitudes towards bhabhi-devar relationship

The bhabhi-devar relationship can vary from playful to deep emotional bonding, depending on the individual dynamics. In Charu Gupta’s “The Indian Bhabhi: A Cultural History,” the author explores the various facets of the relationship.

Gupta highlights the light-hearted exchanges that exist between bhabhis and devars. These exchanges are often marked by unrestrained joy, which can be a stark difference from the more formal relationship shared between a husband and wife.

However, attitudes towards the bhabhi-devar relationship are not always so positive. With rising migration and the resulting loneliness, there has been an increase in extramarital affairs, many of which involve bhabhis.

These relationships are often characterized by the bhabhi seeking emotional companionship and support, something that may not be available to her within her marriage. The bhabhi-devar relationship can also be complex and nuanced, with various shades representing different perceptions and attitudes.

Some see the relationship as casual and playful, while others see it as a deep emotional bond that goes beyond the stereotypical in-law relationship. The relationship is flexible and can be shaped by the individuals involved, which allows it to exist in many forms based on individual preferences and familial expectations.

In conclusion, the bhabhi-devar relationship is one that has existed for centuries and has found representation in various cultural and historical narratives. While there are varying attitudes toward the relationship, the bhabhi-devar bond is one marked by its subtleties, complexities, and ability to exist in various forms.

Whether seen as playful or emotionally deep, the bhabhi-devar relationship remains a relevant and important aspect of Indian society. In conclusion, the bhabhi-devar relationship has a rich history in Indian society, with its roots dating back centuries.

It has been explored in various forms of pop culture, including literature, movies, and television shows. The relationship has evolved over time, changing with societal changes, attitudes, and perceptions towards sexuality and family dynamics.

Despite these changes, the bhabhi-devar relationship remains an important aspect of Indian society, with its nuanced emotional bonds and familial dynamics that continue to find depiction in modern media. Through exploring the intricacies and complexities of the relationship, we can gain a greater understanding of its significance in Indian culture and recognize the value it holds in shaping Indian society and its traditions.

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