Am I a behenji?

Had this rather interesting discussion the other day amongst friends and I’m still to arrive at a conclusion.

Two friends who I considered the ultimate of coolth have labelled themselves behenji. I thought I was too. Though I am most uncomfortable in a saree and a salwarkameez and I can count the occasions in a year when I wear both on my fingers.

This is what the Urban Dictionary defines behenji as. And in the colloquial speak, Mayawati has become synonymous with the word behenji.

I dont fit in the salwar kameez wearing bracket. Nor do I always speak in Hindi or Punjabi. Nor do I pile on the gold.

But I do think like a behenji I argued. And I meant that in the most positive sense. I have what some might consider terribly old fashioned values. No alcohol. No cigarettes. No using foul language. Monogamy rocks. Respect your elders. Doing your puja paath. Lighting the diya. Doing the occasional vrat. Celebrating festivals. Touching feet. The works. I might not get the sindoor on, or wear the shiny blingy sarees but I could be a character from one of them television serials. Except of course, you wont find me in the kitchen.

So what is behenji according to you? And do you fit in?


About Kiran Manral

Kiran Manral published her first book, The Reluctant Detective in 2011. Since then, she has published eight books across genres till date. Her books include romance and chicklit with Once Upon A Crush (2014), All Aboard (2015), Saving Maya (2017); horror with The Face at the Window (2016) and nonfiction with Karmic Kids (2015), A Boyโ€™s Guide to Growing Up (2016) and True Love Stories (2017). Her short stories have been published on Juggernaut, in magazines like Verve and Cosmopolitan, and have been part of anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul, Have a Safe Journey (2017) and Boo (2017). Her articles and columns have appeared in the Times of India, Tehelka, DNA, Yowoto, Shethepeople, New Woman, Femina, Verve, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Conde Nast Traveller, DB Post, The Telegraph, the Asian Age, iDiva, TheDailyO and more. She was shortlisted for the Femina Women Awards 2017 for Literary Contribution. She is a TEDx speaker and a mentor with Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk 2017.
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15 Responses to Am I a behenji?

  1. Orange Jammies says:

    Oh puh-leeeease! Faaaaaaar from it.


  2. JLT says:

    ROFL! you and a behenji!!
    To me a behenji is a narrow minded, gossip mongering, interfering loudmouth. And of course a fuddy duddy in her dressing.
    You tell me, do you fit?? Definitely not, I should say!:-D

    And I share those values you mentioned, those to me seem like good values for a person to hold on to… Am not a behenji by those standards, but maybe am one because of my dressing- nowadays I increasingly prefer comfort to style. And the salwar kameez is simply amazing at hiding the encroaching bulges too…

    Sarees are definitley NOT behenji material. Think Dimple in Sagar…in that red saree… ๐Ÿ˜€ Behenji Dimple?? Behenji Sridevi in Mr. India..? Behenji Kajol in KKHH?

    Sorry for the long comment, but Behenji Kiran made me LAUGH! LOLOL!


  3. nadia says:

    I think a behenji is a woman who never misses an episode of all the serials being aired on local TV, then goes next door to discuss them with her neighbor (who also just finished watching them all herself).


  4. MRC says:


    behenji=respectful term for sister ? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Actually by that token, I think Im one too,love sarees(can wear them properly on my own,to formal parties) lots of old fashioned ideas(no cigarettes for me,love monogamy,no foul language, manners matter) except for the puja paath and vrat bit.

    I feel a post coming on…..


  5. Gouri says:

    Am I a behenji? – Kaun kehta ji?

    Going by the title of the post (combined with your blog’s tagline), at first, I thought you asked this question because of your age. But coming down to the post, I found you relating it to your lifestyle & value system.

    ‘Behenji’ has got to do more with looks rather than your values and beliefs. Do you think we, boys have nothing better to do than finding out the values and habits of a girl to call her behenji?

    BTW you neither look like Mayawati (behenji) or Uma Bharti (Sadhvi Behen of Digvijay Singh).

    So don’t worry… And thank you for this interesting post behenji.. (oops!) I mean Kiran ๐Ÿ™‚


  6. Veena says:

    No way are you a behenjee. And neither are Juhi Chawala, Rani Mukherjee or Bhagyashree (examples in the Urban Dictionary). The way the term is used today, it has nothing to do with good values or behaviors. I like the definition JLT has given in the comment above.


  7. lg says:

    I don’t even like how the term behen ji gets used in a derogatory manner..this is a nice word with a nice meaning to it..however over a period of time it was twisted to use it for girls whom boys (mainly) were willing to call behen ji since they didn’t have any other type of interest in those girls! So tell me if a girl puts oil in hair..wear saris/suits..speak hindi all the time..does that make her behen ji? I don’t think so!
    I like what JLT wrote but person with those qualities should be called exactly what those qualities are..and a word like behen ji should still not be misused there!!


  8. Poppy says:

    LOL. You and behenji – my foot.

    But wait – I like alcohol. And I don’t do Puja Path. Does that mean I don’t have values?

    But I don’t bitch about other people behind their back, I work hard, I don’t steal or lie. Heck i don’t even do music/movie piracy !

    I always get confused by Morals versus Ethics versus values versus Indian Cultural values.


  9. Sue says:

    Dude. You’re so disqualified.

    To find out what the quintessential Indian behenji is all about, I point you firmly in this direction:


  10. Namz says:

    You are no way near a Behenji ….


  11. Pingback: We the Confused Generation « Whats on My Mind

  12. What Sue said. We’re the original behenjis. You’re an impostor. Its got nothing to do with not using foul language or respecting elders or monogamy. Thats just morals and manners.

    Do you wear sarees and lace trimmed petticoats? do you carry your kid on the hip? naah? :p then its just Susie Q and moi.

    I wear sarees with petticoats. No lace trimmed ones. Would be appalled at the thought of the petticoat showing. And while the child was carry-able he did get perched on the hip pretty often, I put it down to a bad back. Do you do pujas and vrats? Nah, I thought so. Geroutof the line.. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  13. bird's eye view says:

    behenji = women who wear nighties all day. Hope u don’t fit that definition ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Err. I dont wear nighties at all. There bursts my bubble.


  14. Nikita says:

    See i feel there are very less individuals around us who ร„CTUALLY live their lives according to themselves, who are modern in true sense, but most of us, especially people who are self proclaimed MODERN and CLASSY are the actual bhaiyaas and behenjis, because these kind of people who change their lifestyle, clothing style etc according to others’ thinking, they themselves does not have the ability to form their own opinion about any issue, these kind of people are very conscious as “if they do this …..”WHAT OTHERS WILL THINK ABOUT THEM ? And the fact is that these self proclaimed classy modern people are highly influenced by WESTERN CULTURE, they will try their best to imitate the western people, to hell with their own cultures or values. From tommorow if salwar kameez and saarees become a rage amongst the westen people, so our bhenjis will be seen wearing sarees and suits and smoking in parties.
    Whatever u r doing, pls dont change urself, u r not a bhenji because u have ur own way to live ur life and if somebody calls u behenji remember they r just loosers ๐Ÿ™‚


  15. priyanka says:

    I was given the impression that being “behenji”is all about dressing style..wear regular suits tagged u as :behenji”. It has nothing about moral and cultural values.
    So ladies ,who decided to live there life as there own terms and can value people on the basis of their traits not of their looks …stop bothering about this term..
    take a chill n love yourself:)

    P.S:i was also called “behenji”as i wear plain salwar .but apart from this i hv no moral policing in me..i use slang, tried cig n drinks,well monogamy rocks but i blz sex is jst a need as sleep is [:)].n most importantly i blv everyone has their own choice of living . dats all.


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