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Myths, words, stars and more...

Myths, words, stars and more...
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The third edition of Samanvay, IHC Indian Languages’ Festival, has had its share of celebrations and the last day in at hand. One of the many high points of the festival was Gulzar launching his book Boski Ka Panchatantra.

An intense discussion on Eros and violence between scholar Nivedita Menon, writer Kancha Ilaiah, activist Kavita Krishnan and Umang Sabarwal, organiser of the Slut Walk, marked Day 3 of Samanvay. Nivedita Menon remarked that the way women are told to dress, to return home before dusk and moral policing they are subjected to, all revolve around a rape ideology. She also spoke about rapes of men, as they suffer double stigmatisation, of their rape and their feminisation both.

Kancha Ilaiah said that we have divine figures in our mythology who have abused women. Comparing our society with the Greek society, he said that the philosophy of the Greek mythology has come up and the gods are dead, whereas the philosophy of Indian mythology is lost and the gods have survived.

Kavita Krishnan described rape as enjoyment without entitlement and the rapes perpetrated by army, marital rapes and rapes of dalit women as problems of mistaken entitlement. She also said that the mindset that accompanies rape is not a problem limited just to the Indian subcontinent but finds friends even in countries like US and Canada with even a Republican Senator uttering his sorry thoughts. Umang Sabarwal said that males have a constant pressure to subjugate females and that media caters only to male spectators.

The second session on Bhojpuri festivity and folk traditions in Bhojpuri literature had singer Padma Shri Sharda Sinha, Bhojpuri writers Hari Ram Dwivedi, Prakash Uday and Subhash Chandra Khushwaha discussed the versatile traditions of Bhojpuri. They spoke about how every season has a different song in Bhojpuri, how folk songs are the jewels of a folk and how only the lower castes have been fortunate to enjoy certain songs.

Film-maker Mahesh Bhatt infused life in the next session with a vibrant conversation on the idea of India with Ajay Brahmatmaj and Ravi Singh. Forthright and bold, he said that the idea of India is not a property of a political party. He emphasized on tolerance, acceptance and being accommodating of the pluralism in India. Born of a Brahmin father and a Shia Muslim mother, he shared the beautiful image of her mother dwelling in his memory, whom he used to see praying behind sealed doors, with her head covered and face lit with the window light. He talked about his spiritual hunger, about the superficiality of the discourse on secularism in India and the threat which comes from people who try to parochialise the diverse human narratives.

Manoranjan Byapari, the Bengali writer, drew comparisons between Marx and Ambedkar. He discussed Dalit movement, Dalit literature and how the communist parties are far removed from the ideology and spirit of Communism. He further said that his people have known and worked with literature of protest and anger, as compared to other people who associate literature with love.

Renowned writer and winner of Padma Shri and Sahitya Akademi awards Shashi Deshpande in conversation with Amrita Bhalla, said that we cannot write like the English and we should not either. She said that she was a feminist but not a feminist writer and explained that no novel can be written according to an ideology. Bhalla spoke about the complexity of dealing with language in a complex social set-up.

The final day of Samanvay hosted Piyush Mishra, Ravish Kumar and Shilpa Shukla in a session on ‘Small Cities, Big Dreams’ and Ketan Mehta, Mukul Kesavan, Dilip Simeon and Vrinda Grover in a discussion on patriotism and religion.
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