For, by and of women

Girls participating in a dance at Mahila Fest 2020.   | Photo Credit: V. RAJU

The girls, close to a dozen in number, gently moved in a semi-circle to a tribal song playing in the background, without much emphasis on the facial expressions. The movement of their hands and feet in pace with an animated rhythm reflected their high energy levels.

They were from Araku Valley performing the tribal Dhimsa dance collectively, complementing each other and merging into a unifying force.

“This is precisely the message of our festival, to unite women into a force to reckon with,” says Jyotsna Gullapalli, general secretary, Tharuni Tharangaalu, a women’s organisation and organiser of a two-day Mahila Fest 2020, at Siddhartha College of Arts and Sciences.

The event saw scores of girls and women from Vijayawada and Guntur cities participating in a series of activities ranging from seminars, open forums, competitions and cultural programmes.

Girls and women filled the main auditorium and showcased their talent in folk song and dance, patriotic songs, short plays, skits, mono action, meme, debates and martial arts among other activities.

The rear side of the auditorium transformed into an entertainment zone with girls of different colleges presenting various dance forms and in the adjacent hall sat a mix of young and old women reflecting their views on key contemporary issues. Topics like “Importance of Mother Tongue” for essay writing, a story-writing on “Selection of Life Partner”, poetry on “Misuse of Smart Phones” and a painting contest on “A Day in a Woman’s Life” gave them ample scope to speak their minds out. There were kolatam, vegetable-carving and a Best from Waste contests too.

“Don’t worry about others’ opinions. Allow yourself to make mistakes, process your fears and trust yourself,” Raavi Sarada, president of the organisation, goaded the participants.

Most married competitors in the song and dance sequences were rookie, a few admitting that this was their first stage performance. “In our society, girls often experience failure and rejection with greater intensity and ruminate about it for longer time, which further strengthens a feeling of shame and incompetence in them. The burden of demands, familial and societal, limits their full potential,” said P. Satyavathi, a writer and a member of the organisation, who oversaw the essay writing event in a separate hall.

The Mahila Fest, into its third year, has grown in size. “We had to spill out of the auditorium, till this end of the ground as people kept coming to register names,” said an upbeat Jyotsna, pointing to the shamiyana in the ground.

Tharuni Tharangalu, in association with members of Women Protection Cells in colleges, conducts awareness programmes for girls on topics like menstrual hygiene, importance of self protection and giving back to the society. “We tell them not to confine their celebrations to a Mother’s Day or a Women’s Day. We want them to celebrate their innate strengths every day,” said Jyotsna.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 8:11:03 PM |

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