Starting A New Business? 7 Key Points To Keep In Mind.
An interview with Moyna Chitrakar, on her Sita's Ramayana, a graphic novel retelling of the Ramayana from Sita’s perspective.
Sita’s Ramayana, a collaborative graphic novel by Patua artist Moyna Chitrakar and writer Samhita Arni, is a retelling of the Ramayana from Sita’s perspective.
Interview by Anjana Basu
In this 2-part interview with Moyna Chitrakar and Samhita Arni, we spoke to the artist-writer duo on how they found the collaborative process of working on Sita’s Ramayana and what Sita means to them. This interview is with Moyna; you can find here our interview with Samhita
Anjana Basu (AB): Did you find any difference between your scroll art and the book?
Moyna Chitrakar (MC): No, I found no difference at all. It’s the same thing actually. As chitrakars, we visualize the Ramayana when most people are used to reading it in words and that visualization was transferred from scroll to book form. And yes, the words were translated into English after I had written the words of my song down for them on the back of every picture.
AB: You described everything from Sita’s point of view. Why is that?
MC: This is a tradition that has been handed down from our forefathers. I have not heard of Chandrabati’s Ramayana (note: a narrative tradition dating from the 16th century which is mentioned at the back of Sita’s Ramayana). I learnt this story of Sita’s endurance from my mother and drew it accordingly.
It is very relevant to us here in the village because village women go through a great deal of suffering. They are abused by their husbands who beat them when they are drunk, they undergo many kinds of torture both mental and physical. As a result, the rate of suicide in the villages is high.
Sita was married to a hero king who nonetheless did not rescue her because he loved her but because he was worried about his honour.
So I talk to them about Sita, who started out with everything and ended up with nothing at all. Despite everything that she endured, exile, kidnapping, separation and then rejection from her husband, she did not take her own life. It was only at the end, when she was asked to face another test of her virtue that she asked the earth to swallow her up.
I tell the groups of women I speak to that their sufferings are nothing when you take Sita’s into consideration. Sita was married to a hero king who nonetheless did not rescue her because he loved her but because he was worried about his honour. If Sita could endure all the disappointments and cruelty that she had to suffer with humanity and compassion, so can the women of the villages in Bengal.
AB: What is your favourite part of the book?
MC: Most people concentrate on the golden deer episode, but my favourite part of the Ramayana is the section where the monkey, Hanuman comes to Sita in the garden of Ravana’s palace. She does not recognize him, but he gradually gets closer to her and begins to tell her that he comes from her husband. She is forced to listen quietly because she is surrounded by sleeping rakshasas.
We women in the villages are surrounded by many dangers. We have to learn to survive in the face of it all and to find our own internal peace.
AB: Are you handing your art down?
MC: I have 10 or 15 girls under me whom I’m teaching. They will carry on the work of bringing hope to village women and spreading the message through stories from mythology and the great epics. Women have an important role to play in this world and they must learn, as Sita did, how to survive in the world of the villages where the odds currently seem to be stacked overwhelmingly against women.
And of course, in English, Sita’s message of endurance will I hope reach many more women apart from making them see the Ramayana through different eyes.
Women's Web is a vibrant community for Indian women, an authentic space for us to be ourselves and talk about all things that matter to us. Follow us via the read more...
Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!
If a woman insists on her prospective groom earning enough to keep her comfortable, she is not being “lazy”. She is just being practical, just like men!
When an actress described women as “lazy” because they choose not to have careers and insist on only considering prospective grooms who earn a lot, many jumped to her defence.
Many men (and women) shared stories about how “choosy” women have now become.
One wrote in a now-deleted post that when they were looking for a bride for her brother, the eligible women all laid down impossible conditions – they wanted the groom to be not more than 3 years older than them, to earn at least 50k per month, and to agree to live in an independent flat.
Most of my women clients are caregivers—as mothers, wives and daughters. And so, they tend to feel guilty about their ambitions. Belief in themselves is hard to come by.
* All names mentioned in the article have been changed to respect client confidentiality.
“I don’t want to take a pay cut and accept the offer, but everyone around me is advising me to take up what comes my way,” Tanya* told me over the phone while I was returning home from the New Delhi World Book Fair. “Should I take it up?” She summed up her dilemma and paused.
I have been coaching Tanya for the past three months. She wants to change her industry, and we have been working together on a career transition roadmap.
Please enter your email address