There are two ceremonies involving sacred thread in India (that I know of). One celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters and another the relationship between a boy and his spiritual identity. Raksha Bandhan or the bond of protection is an annual festival in India. During the related ceremony sisters tie a sacred thread, or rakhi, around their brothers wrist. This act symbolises the sisters wish for her brothers well-being as well as the brothers responsibility to protect his sister. The sacred thread ceremony or Upanayana is an initiation ceremony wherein a boy accepts a spiritual identity and teacher. The Jenoi (sacred thread) is tied around the initiated boy’s wrist. In both instances the sacred thread is worn by a male and reminds him of his responsibilities whether related to his spiritual integrity or his brotherly responsibilities. Women may tie the thread but do not wear it. So, it is interesting that a new book on an IP experience of surrogacy in India is titled the Sacred Thread. The author, Adrienne Arieff describes her unusual journey into motherhood. Unlike most IPs who become parents through surrogacy in India, Arieff was able to move to Anand in Gujurat for the duration of the pregnancy and spend time with Vaina, her children’s surrogate. I love the idea of claiming the very male symbol of the sacred thread to describe the relationship between herself and Vaina as well as that between Vaina and the authors children. I can not think of a thread more sacred than the life giving umbilical cord – I love that this notion weaves itself into the imagery of the title.
Category Archives: IP journey
‘Made in India’ was filmed in 2008 in Mumbai. The film looks at IP, surrogate and clinic perspectives led primarily by the journey of the American intended parents. I heard about the film early in 2011 and saw it first at a screening in the Habitat center in Delhi later that year. Vaishali and Rebecca, the creators of the film, have been encouraging outreach sessions in India. You can have a look at some of the reactions to the film during these outreach sessions here.
Here is what Vaishali and Rebecca have to say about why they made the film and a little about there own backgrounds:
We come from a background of social justice work, with particular interest in reproductive rights, sexuality and human rights. When we first heard about “outsourcing” surrogacy to India in 2007, we were captivated by the myriad of issues that emerge from this subject matter at the crossroads of body politics, reproductive technologies and globalization.
At the time when we started filming, we noticed that any mainstream conversations around this issue tended to be very polarized: either promoting or condemning the practice. We wanted to bring a nuance to the story that would offer the audience a closer understanding of the intended couple’s and the surrogate’s choices behind their decisions. We wanted to take this intimate journey with all the players involved. Of course, we had no idea how the story would end up, but we trusted that if we let events unfold on their own – all the questions we were interested in exploring would emerge organically. As a result, the film really challenges viewers to come to their own conclusions about the practice.
We set out to create a film that captured the entire surrogacy process as it unfolded. Often this meant something like the amazing race for the film crew as we raced from Texas to Mumbai and back again! In addition to the parallel stories of the western commissioning parents and the surrogate, the “Reproductive Tourism” industry emerged as a key player in this process, as did US and Indian Government bodies. Today the international surrogacy industry is growing exponentially. However, in countries such as India, the process is taking place without regulation, and without adequate judicial recourse for the surrogates, the commissioning parents or the children. Similarly new medical tourism businesses are growing in the US and abroad without a proper code of conduct and ethics in place.
“Made in India” highlights the human stories behind a complex process while raising immediate concerns over women’s health and rights.