06 December, 2020

Sita's Garden Of Epic Longing

By sharing their joys and sorrows through song, women gain in strength and create a space to express their desires.

Sita's Garden Of Epic Longing
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
As we know, the good Indian woman can have no wants. It's no different in the epics. The patriarchal social system of the epics has no room for the woman's desires, except as a fatal flaw that may lead to abduction, war and suffering. But when we are denied not merely our desires, but even our needs, we devise survival strategies. Women's worksongs, for one, encapsulate that impulse. By sharing their joys and sorrows through song, women gain in strength and create a space to express their desires.

It's not quite a public voice, it's heard by women alone, but it fulfils the basic wish to be heard. It is best done using a persona, by speaking through a borrowed voice. And the voice easiest to borrow is Sita's. Draupadi's, surely, would not do. With her five adoring husbands and a divine boyfriend, she is hardly an acceptable role model for the rural Indian wife.

These Sita songs, whether from northern India or the south, the east or the west, express amazingly similar sentiments. Take Sita in exile,...
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