Friday, May 6, 2016

Left hand and right hand, which one is right?

I have seen very few left handed people in India, especially during my childhood, it was very rare to spot a left handed person. But, when I came to USA I was surprised to see so many left handed people, this sharp difference made me to look to some reasons behind it. Is it genetic? or due to different climate or there is some other reason. While looking for possible reasons, I realized that it has to do with culture and tradition more than anything else. In India left hand is considered as a 'wrong' hand and many parents force their kids to use their right hand the time they realize that their child is using the left hand, especially while eating or writing. This happens at a very young age when the child is still trying to learn to perform his or her tasks on their own. Because of this cultural dominance of right handedness many kids change their 'wrong' way and switch to the correct way, the ultimate result: they start using their 'right' hand for eating and writing and hence they ultimately become right handed. 

Now, slowly things are changing for good, even in India parents are more tolerant towards their kids using whatever hand they prefer while eating or writing, but this was not the case during my childhood, this is why I think I didn't see many left handed people around me. During my son's first India visit since he started eating on his own, when my mom saw him eating with left hand she was really shocked. She blamed me that as a parent, I didn't take any efforts to correct this fault of his. She was worried about him using his 'wrong' hand to do pious tasks like eating or writing or some religious rituals. My mom is not the only one who thinks like this, most people of her generation think like this and still there are some who believe in these type of traditions. Most of them are fine with a person being a leftie in sports, rather lefties get special attention in popular sport like cricket in India, but if same person uses his or her left hand while eating then the reactions are totally different.

I am completely opposed to this notion of right being a 'right' hand and left being a 'wrong' hand. It should be a choice of an individual to decide which hand want to use as their dominant hand. There is nothing right or wrong in this, it really doesn't matter. I am glad that slowly people are trying to understand this simple fact, but still it is not accepted to use left hand during religious rituals. Priests often try to force a person performing the ritual to use their right hand and many oblige to this order just to avoid any confrontation or they themselves somehow think that using left hand is a wrong thing to do. I am sure this happens because of brainwashing since early childhood. I feel left handed people should stick to their guns during religious ceremonies also, let these priests understand that there is nothing wrong in using the left hand, let others understand that there is nothing wrong in being a leftie, one hand is not more pious than the other, both are equal. I know this is not easy, it might result in some struggle, also it might create some unpleasant situations or arguments, but someone needs to take the stand so that others don't suffer the same discomfort and humiliation. It will be interesting to see how my son reacts when he will be told to use his right hand during some religious ritual (if at all he bothers to participate in any). I am interested in knowing about the experiences of left handed people where they feel they got discriminated or treated differently just because they use their left hand. We need to correct this bias, it is not that serious, but still it is a bias and we need to correct it.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

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