Annual Fair History & Culture

SHE is Supreme

Kannagi

Kannagi   | Photo Credit: Shaju John

The annual Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair aims to showcase the Woman — her power and responsibilities

The 11th edition of the Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair gets under way on January 28 at Guru Nanak College grounds, Velachery. Known for its theme-based display of the several factors, which make India unique, the fair is visited by lakhs of people for its educative and entertainment quotients. Through stalls, cultural programmes, lectures, walks and more, the fairs communicate the different facets of the land’s culture and heritage. The music, Natya and Yoga events involve participation of youth in massive numbers. From saving the environment to projecting patriotism, the annual exhibitions have showcased ways in which the people have transcended geographical and linguistic barriers to elevate this country as an icon of valour and intellect. The six pillars of the initiative are conserve forests and wildlife, preserve ecology, sustain environment, inculcate family and human values, foster women’s honour and instil patriotism.

‘Revering Womanhood’ is the subject of the discourse this year. While the woman has been an integral part of every edition of HSSF, the spotlight is especially on the female power, which has propelled India in a direction of progress and glory over centuries. “Revering Woman is the fifth on the agenda of IMTCF (initiative for Moral and Cultural Training Foundation). This has been held aloft this year in order to remind people that this country has always given the woman pride of place. The youth especially should realise this important fact, which is unique to our civilization,” says Rajalakshmi Ravi, Chairperson of HSSF. “Respect and regard for history and heritage are singularly lacking among the youth and many, who have not cared to turn the pages of history. The woman was an integral part of society, much revered. She was considered precious. And she is. Anything valuable has to be protected. It is not a sign of weakness. On the other hand, it is a prerequisite for something that is cherished,” she says.

Binding element

“This is not a land of rapists. This is a land, where women stood shoulder to shoulder with men in all the fields and were respected for that,” Rajalakshmi continues. “The woman of this civilisation is different from that of other countries. Any comparison would be odious. Here the woman is the binding element. She is not a mere individual. She is the nerve centre of a family — as the wife, mother, sister and more. It was because of her that the joint family system flourished. The onus of taking care of the aged was never the state burden, as it is in some countries.”

With Kannagi as the symbol, the fair presents women from the Vedic age, when they have been icons of wisdom, to the present era, from all walks of life. There is not a field, where the woman has not left her indelible imprint. “India, is referred to as Bharat Mata, Mother figure,” points out Rajalakshmi.

“Stephanie Tawa Lama, researcher writes thus: ‘The Indian philosophy and way of life are founded on women as the source of power that is Shakti, while the Western approach is based on the women as the weaker sex... their country’s struggle for Freedom was fought in the name of Bharat Mata.’ India has been a pioneer in granting women rights and privileges. When other countries gave them voting rights anywhere between 1971 and 1994, the privilege was granted to both the men and women of this country in 1951,” she says.

A level playing field prevailing in education and acquisition of skills, the women were warriors, rulers, freedom fighters, artisans, artistes, musicians and so on. The fair seeks to underline the fact that this country has been known for its gender harmony.

“The Indian woman, especially in the ancient days, stood out with her humility. No civilization, outside of India, could boast as many poets, writers and spiritual leaders. The trend continued when modern India was in the making with illustrious names, including Durgabhai Deshmukh, Lakshmi Sahgal, Sucheta Kripalani, Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy and so on leading the pack. There were so many women in the Constitution Thinktank. The Woman’s supremacy was never a subject of debate,” Rajalakshmi reiterates.

Ardhangini concept

Referring to the spouse as the ‘better-half’ is a dilution of Ardhangini — the woman as an inseparable part of her husband — a concept found in Markandeya Purana (250 c.e), points out a display. This along with the Ardhanariswara concept date back thousands of years, stressing gender equality. A life in harmony with Nature, sharp wit, high thinking, courage — all of these carried off with elegance and humility personified the woman of this land — an image, which got eroded and morphed with the inevitable invasion of alien cultures.

So what would be the takeaway from the Fair?

“It is time for a paradigm shift, in the way today’s woman looks at herself. She is the nucleus of life. This vests in her both power and responsibility — the latter to play the role of the giver, who sustains the family, which in turn will make the nation healthy. Contentment and humility, two vital qualities, which made her yesteryear counterpart strong and dignified, have to be adopted. Let the marvel called Woman come forward to take her rightful position in the frontline of progress,” says Rajalakshmi Ravi.

The 11th edition of HSSF will be inaugurated on January 28, 6 p.m. by Matha Amritananda Mayi. The fair, which closes on February 3, is powered by 1,500 schools in 30 centres, located across the country. For details log into www.hssf.in Contact 044-24622311/312/313. Email: hssfhq@gmail.com

Ahead of Fair

Today, January 24

Bharateeya Samskara Ganam

5-6.18 p.m.

Venue: A.M. Jain College, Railway Station, Meenambakkam, Chennai

Bharatamuni Samskara Natanam

January 26 - 6.05-7.30 p.m.

Venue: A.M. Jain College, Railway Station, Meenambakkam, Chennai

Tiruvilakku Puja (Veda Bharati)

January 27 - 5-7 p.m.

Venue: Guru Nanak Salai, Anna Garden, Velachery

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 10:09:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/she-is-supreme/article30633168.ece

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