Sunday 24 March 2019

Women and Ecology - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

A three day festival on Woman and Nature, recalling passages from traditional arts, from culture and lifestyle studies not omitting folklore, held at the IGNCA, saw the Sattriya exponent Mallika Kandali perform along with her group. Divya Prakriti Parva focused on woman's role in preservation and conservation of ecology and environment. The dancer naturally had to go back to the work of Sankaradeva, the Neo Vaishnavite reformer (1449-1568), credited as the father of the Sattriya tradition. In his ritual plays (Bhaona), though a direct reference to women in the mentioned role is hard to come by, his female characters like Rukmini and even Sita for instance are very strong people, far from the weepy, cringing types. But the reformist was very conscious of ecology sustained with a belief that every micro aspect of the cosmos reflected the macro identity of the Infinite. Sensitive to nature as Sankaradeva was, one comes across delightful verses describing nature in different moods, and through the description of seasons, and how women responded to them one could deduce and arrive at some ideas on how emotively women related to nature. The female characters in Sankaradeva's plays while not clinging vines compared in literature to creepers, had their beauty like that of Mohini compared to various flowers.

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