Thursday, February 26, 2009

The War Of The Roses

Even as hues of pink continue to pervade India's cityscapes, most of us, have been oblivious to the unfolding of a quieter, and perhaps, more powerful rebellion, right in the heart of a traditional male stronghold. The village of Banda in Uttar Pradesh.

Banda is located in, what is perhaps, the most lawless and desolate region in India - Bundelkhand. A land plagued by dacoity, Bundelkhand had witnessed the rise of the notorious bandit queen Phoolan Devi. Conflict, feudalism, poverty, deprivation and corruption are an integral part of daily life here. Have been for as long as anyone can remember. And, crimes against women & children, are as common-place as breathing.

So, you will well understand my shock, and awe, when I discovered that the bleak, forbidding Badlands, was also, the setting of the modern day War Of The Roses.

Banda's war of the roses is not between factions of society, as one would imagine.
There are no red or white roses here.
Only pinks.
Not the genteel, seemingly frail, baby and hot pink blooms, that one sees in well-manicured gardens. But, a deep fuchsia pink. The Gulabi pink.

A colour of power, which commands attention, respect and obedience.

The Gulabis are the poor, uneducated women of Banda,and its surrounds, who, under the leadership of Sampat Devi Lal, have raised their voices, and flexed their muscles, in unison, to protest against the stranglehold of male authority. They are women help each other to overthrow the yoke of oppression, and rise above their harsh circumstances, to take charge of their destinies.
And, in the process, they have transformed the humble pink sari into a symbol of freedom, feminine dignity and true woman-power.
The rise of the roses has been effectively chronicled by the Guardian, BBC and, the young Indian film-maker, Shagun. They feature in a few blogs as well. All of which, makes for very interesting reading.
Ask me, I know.
I have not been able to tear myself from google, since last evening!!!

The pink veiled warriors of Banda have evoked mixed emotions in me.
I am awed.
That, women, who have lived their entire lives in an environment of harsh bondage, conditioned to fit into stereotyped moulds, have broken free.
Their courage, amazes me.
It makes me hopeful.

That, they are illiterate, and yet, have found their paths, makes me wonder.
It appears that, one does not always need the benefits of education to find one's purpose in life. To gain the wisdom to discern right from wrong. Or, to find the courage to safeguard one's dignity.
It seems to me, that one just has to have the will. The way will emerge.

I am also greatly amused.

As Muthalik, and his Sena cronies, prepare to distribute pink saris to the chaddi campaigners, I wonder, if they are aware of the underlying symbolism of their gift?
Of, what the pink sari truly represents?
And, the message that their gifts COULD convey to its intended recipients?

How, incredibly ironic.
How, incredibly depressing.

Note to Readers: I had planned to add my findings about the Gulabi Gang, as a update to the last post 'The Charge Of The Pink Brigade'. Fortunately or unfortunately, blogspot played spoil sport and therefore, a post dedicated to the pink roses of UP.


Ganga Dhanesh said...

Looks like the hols have really refreshed your's a deluge of thoughts and words! Nice one and well said!

Abhilash Suryan said...

That's where India's real strength the Mothers of our villages and slums who instill the same kind of qualities in their children, prepare them for the hard life ahead, teach them how to live with hope and not to hate the system and destroy themselves fighting it....
Remember the Russian Revolution....
It wasn't started by the angry young men, but by the Mothers who couldn't feed their children, in spite of toiling from dawn to dusk...
After reading this I feel like asking those babes in 'pink snuggies':
"why don't you let these 'Moms' handle the Muttalans'...err...Mutta licks?"

Roopa said...

Whoa! Slow down!! This is a indeed pink revolution. Such efforts should receive more publicity, right? Actually, I had never heard of it until I read about it in your blog. out media has a way of sensationalizing the bad stuff and never really mentioning enough the good ones!

Miaow!!! said...

Thank you Ganga. :) :)

Right Roopa. Can you imagine a bunch of women in the thick of bandit land, taking charge and thulping corrupt abusive men to better their lot?? And, its not entirely an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth approach that they use. They believe in education for women, teaching them skill sets to survive, and talking to abusive husbands and families to treat women better.
I was maha impressed and wanted to shout it out from roof-tops. One of those times when I wish that this blog had a much much wider audience!!!

Miaow!!! said...

Abhilash, sadly, I think the 'moms' have their priorities in their corner of the world. And, I doubt the women of substance in this part of the country are going to wake up unless they are really threatened. Going by news reports of the attacks on women in jeans, I am reminded of the case of the frog in a pot of water on the stove,where the temperature is being turned up oh so slowly.
I really would love it if the Pink Chaddi campaigners wud take a leaf out of the Gulabi handbook, accept the Sena saris, drape it on and then trash the life out of those creeps!!!

laxsarat said...

Hello! Thanks for stopping by my blog and saying those kind words! Glad that I am able to find way to your blog as well. I'll be one of the much wider audience your blog deserves:-)

Rekz said...

Thank you Laxsarat &..welcome to the Moggies. I did like the thoughts in your posts and am looking forward to more..
:) :)