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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Stories of triumphant women

Yukta stages Katha Manobi

By Jamil Mahmud

Oppression of women is as old as the human civilisation. History only narrates and highlights the bravado of kings and warriors, carefully sidelining the contributions of women and the inspiration they provided.

Featuring the triumphs of eight historic and contemporary women, Yukta, an organisation of recitors, arranged a programme at the British Council Auditorium (on Fuller Road) on June 18. The programme, "Katha Manobi," was inspired by Indian author Mallicka Sengupta's collection of poems (with the same title).

From the epic 'Mahabharat' to contemporary times, Sengupta chose eight characters -- Draupadi, Ganga, Sultana Razia, Madhabi, Khona, Shah Banu, Medha Patekar and Malati Mudi -- and narrated their struggles, passion and valour.

Draupadi is known as the wife of 'Pancha Pandav.' She is a symbol of grace, nobility and fidelity. Her dignity came under threat at the Kaurav court, but Draupadi took charge and faced off her oppressor, emerging triumphant.

Sultana Razia is another historic character. She was the first and only female emperor of Delhi (from 1236-1240 AD). During her reign, Razia had to face the conspiracies by her fellow royals and was eventually killed. Her indomitable courage, however, made her immortal.

In contemporary India, the valour of Medha Patekar, Shah Banu and Malati Mudi has made them symbols of freedom. Medha Patekar, a research worker and social activist in Gujrat, became an iconic figure for her bold protest against a government decision to build a dam on the river Narmada.

Shah Banu is a Muslim housewife. In 1985, her husband divorced her and refused to pay her alimony. An illiterate Shah Banu filed a case at the high court. After years of excruciating wait, Shah Banu's case went to the Parliament of India. Though it failed to triumph, Shah Banu became a public figure. In 1990, Malati Mudi became a hero in Purulia, after she stabbed her landlord who had violated her.

Members of Yukta -- Shirin Khan Moni, Krishti Hefaz, Shamim Ara Koli, Mushfiqua Naznin Lucky, Shubhra Das and Riya Mahmud -- took part in recitation at the programme. Nishat Jahan Rana was the director of the show. Ferdousi Priyobhashini did the stage design, while Ishrat Nishat was the light designer.

This was the premiere show of the programme.

Source: The Daily Star.

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