15 May 2024  |   06:39am IST

Appreciating the joys of living in a joint family

The significance of International Day of Families resonates globally, serving as an important platform for nations worldwide to foster cooperation and exchange ideas about family related issues. This day advocates the creation of inclusive policies, ensuring that families feel recognized and supported. Established by the United Nations in 1994, today marks the 30th anniversary of International Family Day. This milestone prompts reflection on the pivotal role families play, urging collective efforts to address challenges and strengthen familial connections for the betterment of society
Appreciating the joys of living in a joint family

Annalie Rodrigues

The commemoration of the International Day of Families was primarily driven by the United Nations and the Universal Peace Federation. In 1993, the United Nations (a) passed a resolution to demonstrate its resolve to promote improved living conditions and the social advancement of families worldwide. The International Day of Families was formally a by the 

UN in 1994 in response to shifting social and economic systems that were impacting the stability and construction of families across the globe. 

Today marks the 30th anniversary of International Families Day. This day is observed with two goals in mind. 

One is to increase public awareness about the value of family life as well as the various factors that are adversely affecting this unit. It recognises the strength and capacity of what is widely seen as society's most fundamental unit. Every year, this day has been used as a launch pad to shed light on the issues faced by families and the appropriate actions that can be taken by individuals, societies, and governments in order to resolve said issues. The day is also used to showcase how a strengthened family unit eventually helps in strengthening societies and nations as a whole.

Joel Costa, living in a joint family of 23 people, says, “Being surrounded by extended family has helped us to form a strong bond with each other especially during the Covid lockdown. We could provide company to one another by playing games, sharing stories and even working in our farm together. Our grandparents have also passed down several traditions and recipes to us which has helped 

keep them alive and can be passed on to the next generations as well. Although there are a few disadvantages to living in such a big family, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.”

Alicia Fernandes, who has shifted from living in a big joint family to a smaller one after marriage, says, “Staying in a joint family was a truly joyful experience. I never felt alone and there was always someone to lend a helping hand and support me when I needed them. There was always the warm feeling of togetherness and collective fun. Growing up in a joint family really impacted my upbringing. If my parents were unable to correct me about something, then my aunts or uncles would step in to fill their shoes. After marriage, I initially found our new home to be a little lonely as I was used to always being surrounded by people, but eventually I came to enjoy the privacy and love my small family equally. I am also at peace knowing that my mother is not alone and that she has the rest of our family staying with her. People have always been surprised to hear that I lived with such a big family and appreciated us for it. It was always viewed very positively.”

Alessandrea Dias e Valadares, who moved to living in a joint family after marriage, says, “It took a lot of adjustment in the beginning as I was used to living in a small nuclear family and found it difficult to coordinate with everyone for everyday decisions that needed to be made. Now that I have settled in well, I like that there is always someone at home and we can help to fill in for one another when required. The children in the house also stand to benefit, as they gain a lot of exposure and learn painting, cooking, stitching, catechism and other important lessons from the elders in the house. Since I work for a Canadian company, my colleagues were quite shocked and curious about our culture of living in joint families, as it is pretty much an alien concept to them. Even when I was getting married, a lot of people advised me to move out and live as a nuclear family to avoid conflicts, but I decided to move in with my in-laws and I am very happy with my decision to do so.”

These uplifting personal stories by Goans from joint families are a true testament to the joys and warmth one can experience when living in big families. Today’s day presents the perfect opportunity to strengthen familial bonds. One can organize activities like board games or singing competitions to bond in an enjoyable manner within one’s family. Encourage open dialogue about any challenges family members may be facing, while emphasizing a safe and judgement-free space for discussion. 

One can also use this day to establish support systems within the family, addressing individual needs such as academic pressure or emotional struggles. One can also arrange for a photo shoot to capture the love in the family with a location that has a symbolic meaning linked to one’s family. This day can also be used as an opportunity to teach one’s family about community service and to give back to society in a meaningful manner. 

For those separated from their family, reaching out to friends for support can foster a sense of belongingness. Meaningful connections should always be cultivated based on trust and love, whether with family or chosen companions.

IDhar UDHAR

Idhar Udhar