The Life of a left-handed girl in India

Today is World Left Handers Day and this is the perfect opportunity for me to share my experiences as a left handed person in India.

In India, it is not considered the norm to use your left hand instead of your right hand. I was a born leftie, a fact that my parents discovered when I was approximately 5-6 years old when my dad was trying to teach me to write. He kept trying to make me hold the pencil with my right hand and write and I just wouldn’t. After some time, he lost his patience, kept the pencil down and told me to write when I feel like and started to walk away. I calmly picked up the pencil with my left hand and started writing. That’s when it struck him that I am a leftie.

In those times in India, it was considered inauspicious for people to use their left hand to eat, write or any other activities which were normally done with the right hand. Today, things are a little different, but not at that time. My parents never tried to convert me from a leftie to a right handed person, especially my father who would say that he wouldn’t try to change me from what my natural habit is.

But I faced really tough times with other people. When I would go to the temple, when I would put my left hand forward for the prasad(a sweet dish which is the holy offering that is given to all the people visiting the temple), the priest would look at me like I had just desecrated the temple with my presence. For an innocent kid who didn’t understand what she did wrong, it was really upsetting. But I would still insist on taking the Prasad in my left hand.

We experienced this many times while visiting temples. One day, my dad couldn’t control himself. When the priest at another temple insisted on giving me the Prasad in my right hand, my dad said to the priest, ” The things that you do with your left hand, she does with her right hand. Do you still want to give her the Prasad in her right hand?” The priest was left speechless. I still laugh my heart out at the expression on the priest’s face.

In school too, I would be asked all kinds of weird questions on being a leftie as it was not the norm. Parents who would have children who were lefties would forcibly convert them to using the right hand, sometimes even resorting to beating them to make them convert – all because it was considered inauspicious.

I hope things are different now. If there are any parents who are still forcing their kids to convert to the right hand, please stop. It is not their natural instinct. You are also messing up the functioning of their brain. There is nothing inauspicious about it.

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6 thoughts on “The Life of a left-handed girl in India

  1. I visited India a few months ago. Before my visit, I heard that food shouldn’t be touched with the left hand. However, when I asked my Indian tour guide whether or not eating, giving/receiving things should only be done with the right hand, he said that it’s also ok to use left hand these days.
    Compared to Indonesia (where I live), I found that Indians to be more tolerant towards lefties and usage of left hand.

    1. That’s nice to know, Ari. Yes, people are a lot more tolerant here nowadays, a little more with you because you are a visitor to India and people wouldn’t want you to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable. I hope you enjoyed your stay here 🙂

  2. I noticed that my daughter is left-handed before she was a year old. At 11 months old, she had a good grip with her left hand to feed herself but food would often drop when I put them in her right hand. I didn’t really try to change her in the early years.
    By the time she started learning to write, she strongly preferred her left hand but I wanted her to write with her right hand because the left to right writing script puts writing with the left hand at a disadvantage (smearing, covering what has just been written, pens are made for pulling strokes with the right hand and not ideal for pushing strokes with the left hand). After a few months of trying to convert her with good intentions, I gave up because she turned from a happy girl to a stressed out child. I don’t know whether I made the right decision- My daughter is now in standard 3 and she writes slower with her left hand than her standard 2 brother who writes with his right hand. Up until standard 2, she had problems with spacing while he never had such a problem. So nothing to do with left hand being inauspicious but it seems left-handers take longer to become proficient at handwriting.

    I’m 37. When I started school 30 odd years ago, the class teacher would demand us to “write” with “right” hand as they rhyme. She scolded a boy who wrote with his left hand saying that he would be left behind if he doesn’t change.

    I was stuck with sticking to my old beliefs and giving my daughter the freedom to choose, but eventually chose the latter as computers are more widely used than writing these days, so now it’s not important for one to be a right hand writer.

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