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Saturday, 29 April 2017

To the ‘good’ Indian husband: This is why your wife probably hates you

Over the last couple of years, I have met women who evidently hate their husbands. There is not an iota of doubt in my mind that, that is the case. They loathe their husbands, and in all cases, the reason is hypocrisy.

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The husband who thinks ill of others and whose actions hurt everyone around him, especially his wife, stands in front of the portrait of a goddess chanting verses full of virtue and values. The wife stands behind him, smiling through gritted teeth.

The husband who taunts his wife for not taking his permission to party with her friends, talks of women’s rights and liberation amongst his friends and family. The wife stands behind him, smiling through gritted teeth.

The husband who doesn’t consider his wife’s opinion important, discusses in public how he and his wife take joint decisions in all family matters. The wife stands behind him, smiling through gritted teeth.

The husband who tells his wife to ‘cover-up’, talks to his friends about how audacious, smart and hot, he thinks his colleague wearing a mini-skirt, is. The wife stands behind him, smiling through gritted teeth.

The husband who doesn’t help his wife with household chores, even a bit, talks about his love for kids in front of extended family members. The wife stands behind him, smiling through gritted teeth.

The husband who asks his wife to quit her job, rambles amongst his couple - friends how important it is to have a partner who is ambitious and financially independent. The wife stands behind him, smiling through gritted teeth.


The husband who raises his eyebrows every time his wife talks about visiting her family, complains to his parents how less he gets to meet his married sister and how the family she married into needs to be more understanding. The wife stands behind him, smiling through gritted teeth.

And then, there are other kinds of men too.

The husband who physically assaults his wife, passionately discusses the Nirbhaya issue during a family get-together. The wife stands behind him, smiling through gritted teeth.

The husband who demanded dowry during his own marriage, demeans his sister’s in-laws for asking for too much. The wife stands behind him, smiling through gritted teeth.

The husband who treats his wife like any other household help, feels heart-broken at the sight of his sister doing all household chores alone. The wife stands behind him smiling through gritted teeth.

And it continues…

My heart goes out to every woman who stands behind her husband, unwillingly and probably because she has no choice, smiling through gritted teeth. You are indeed one strong woman.

(Source: AkkarBakkar)

Why we need to remove the stigma around menstrual health

G Talukdar, an 18-year old woman from Assam’s Baram area, died on 23 April after a parasite was found inside her stomach. The story came to light when the woman complained of severe pain after her stomach swelled in an abnormal manner. She was admitted to a hospital in Guwahati on Saturday evening.

Her family had noticed the swelling for almost two weeks but had assumed that she was pregnant as a result of an affair. Despite initially being concerned about the consequences of a pregnancy and the need to get her married, her family finally got her admitted to Guwahati Medical College and Hospital once she began suffering from serious stomach pain.

The doctors, after examination, found that a parasite had been scavenging her from the inside for almost two months, resulting in severe damage to her intestine. The doctors concluded that it had happened due to the unhygienic practice of using cloth in place of sanitary napkins during periods.

The use of old pieces of cloth in place of sanitary napkins is commonplace in rural Assam, where access to proper menstrual hygiene is still limited.


Archana Borthakur, founder of Priyabandhu, a non-profit organisation working at the grassroots level on this grave issue, said over the phone that women from rural areas not only do not have access to proper menstrual hygiene but also do not wear panties. Drying their underwear in the sun being looked upon as embarrassing, many women prefer to let their underwear remain unwashed and highly infected, resulting in poor menstrual hygiene.

The government has been giving much importance to the use of condoms for safe sex but has not focused proportionately on menstrual hygiene. Some months back, Congress MP Sushmita Dev’s campaign for tax-free sanitary napkins under the new Goods and Services Tax regime had garnered a huge response from people all across the country. Her online petition had secured more than two lakh signatures.

Terming sanitary napkins ‘necessary safeguard(s) for health and life’, she wrote to Finance Minister Arun Jaitly asking for napkins to be exempted from the tax. Dev argued that zero tax on sanitary napkins would make them more accessible to girls and women, thereby raising school attendance and women’s participation in the workforce.

It is very tragic that such unhygienic practices have claimed several lives in this country – and that these deaths are, as yet, undocumented. As Archana Borthakur remarked, G Talukdar is just the tip of the iceberg.

(Source: YKA)

What do people say about inter-sectarian marriages in Lebanon?

We as Lebanese are popularly known to be very sociable, and the common statement that says that “a Lebanese person has a friend in every country” is definitely true to a lot of us.

But underneath our overly friendly disposition lie deep-seated reservations, rooted in our mores, and exacerbated by the civil war, which, in turn, mar our professional, social, and even romantic interactions.

It is fair to say that since the sectarian civil war (1975-1990) ended, we have come a long way in overcoming religious prejudice and have been able to live relatively harmoniously with one another.

Yet, it is also undeniable that there are still many instances when sectarianism exerts considerable influence on our decision making.

For instance, there is a commonly held belief that one should marry 'inside' their religion as marrying someone of a different faith would often lead to a failed relationship.

More worrying is the fact that a surprising amount of liberal, non-conservative families, and non-practicing individuals also subscribe to the notion of "safe within the clan.”

We polled the opinions of 25 non-practicing females and 25 non-practicing males from various religious backgrounds on 9 statements commonly associated with inter-religious marriage.


Here's what they had to say :

1. Not even on the table
Out of the 25 young women I asked about the validity of this statement, 18 said they agree with it completely.

There is often an intrinsic conviction that getting to know someone outside of your religion is pointless because it would never amount to anything.

People readily admitted to ignoring a man or a woman of interest because “it is pointless for the future.”

2. Religion isn't just about faith, it's about culture
Many men and women expressed their fear over possible rifts within the family and concern over losing the joy of culturally-associated activities.

While most agree that the modern world is all about diversity, getting to know different cultures, and indulging in their traditions, many prefer to maintain “classic” values within their family unit.

The fear of losing touch with one's own culture was commonly cited as a reason for avoiding the prospect of marrying outside their religion.

3. What about the children?
Many expressed concern regarding children and how it could affect their upbringing. To them there is a general impression that inter-religious family units can affect children negatively.

But others do not agree with this statement altogether, arguing instead that being exposed to different values and traditions can even make children more wholesome, accepting, and just better people in general.

“I would want my kids to celebrate Christmas and Ramadan no matter who I marry because both are beautiful and both are about bringing people together,” said a 27-year-old woman living in Beirut.

4. Fears of a repeat
"Well, then, maybe interreligious couples would be among the few people not to get sucked into it?" This statement was actually repeated more than I expected it to be.

But not everyone agrees. Underlying political tension is still present to the point that people fear marrying outside of their religion because it may affect their personal safety should another war erupt.

 “What if I have to pick a side one day? I would be torn between my own family and my wife’s,” said a 28-year-old male living in the Bekaa.

5. Parental approval is a major factor
This was the most reiterated statement of all:

“I really don’t care and religion doesn’t matter to me, but I know my parents would be so disappointed.”

It's difficult to reason against such statements because in most Arab communities parents constitute a moral high ground, which leaves little room for debate.

As a 22-year-old female living in Zahleh said:

“This is the one thing they asked of me: marry a good Christian boy. How can I deny them the one thing they asked of me?”

6. Identity politics reign supreme
Many believe that different religions in the same household would inevitably lead to deep disagreements on political issues, courtesy of sectarian identity politics prevalent in the country.

But not everyone I interviewed felt the same way. "Disagreement may actually foster diversity, broaden one's scope, and introduce a different perspective," some said, but "it still poses a risk factor as 'marriage is hard enough and we don’t need more things to disagree on,'" others lamented.

A 30-year-old male living in Beirut said: “If I picture myself having to listen to my wife or her family talk politics I completely disagree with, I imagine it would drive me insane!”

7. Sharing the faith
Many said that while they don’t practice, faith is still an important undertone of their daily lives.

On the other hand, some disagreed with this statement: “Everyone is entitled to perceive it however they want, but faith is meant to be a universal concept that should not be defined by the family you happened to be born into,” said a 31-year-old woman living in Beirut.

8. "It's just easier"
This was the second most common response, particularly from the less talkative interviewees.

Many explained that as a young person already working hard to fulfill his or her goals and excel at his or her career, it would be easier to stay close to home and establish a family unit similar to the one they are already used to.

9. Minorites and existential fears
The belief that numbers can give you a political advantage is not something people can shake off easily when they live in a society that is governed by religiously flavored political parties, and this response is proof of that:

A 19-year-old girl from a religious minority said: “It’s up to us to continue the legacy or else in 50 years there will be none of us left.”

(Source: Stepfeed)

Plant-based diet helps 21-year-old recover from brain cancer

Growing up, the food choices I made were based on my belief that I needed to consume a lot of protein. I ate the “Standard American Diet,” packed full of meat, dairy, and processed foods. Being an athlete, I was always in shape, so I was unaware of the harm I was inflicting on my body with the foods I was eating. I was always encouraged to eat plenty of animal protein, being that I “was a growing boy.” Everything changed a few months before my 21st birthday.

After experiencing upper back and neck pain for a few weeks, my mother finally persuaded me to go to a doctor and get checked out. The first doctor I saw was convinced it was a pinched nerve, but an MRI of my back revealed nothing. After seeking the opinion of five additional doctors, I still had no answers to the question, what was going on? The pain was not subsiding, but every doctor told me there was no damage, that it was probably just sore muscles.

When I was just about ready to give up on finding the cause of my pain, the last doctor I saw suggested we do an MRI of my neck, which I agreed to. The following morning, he called to inform me that he had the results of the MRI: “Bobby, you have a tumor growing on your brain.”

I’ll never forget hearing those words. It was such an overwhelming feeling. After getting a full brain scan, I was informed that the tumor on my brain was the size of a golf ball. I met with a team of doctors at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Being that it was regarded as one of the best hospitals in the country, I felt safe there. After a rigorous two-week stretch of seeing doctors every day, getting blood taken, and having multiple physical exams done, I was informed that not only did I have a brain tumor, but that it was malignant as well. My parents and I decided that we’d strictly abide by the doctor’s recommendations. The doctor suggested that I should have surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible, followed by radiation and/or chemotherapy to kill whatever was left behind.

After a few days of trying to decide what to do (including reading the 6 page-long list of side effects from chemotherapy, including other cancers), we decided that I would have brain surgery and radiation.

On February 12th 2012, 17 days after learning of my brain tumor, I was on an operating table. Going into brain surgery was by far the most terrifying experience of my life. Walking into a surgery knowing that any small error made could result in death or mental damage was quite gut wrenching. After an 8 hour operation, I was in a major daze; my vision was impaired, I could barely hear anything, and I was unable to talk. I felt that I couldn’t breathe out of my mouth (a few days later I realized it was because during surgery, while I was face down, my tongue was hanging out of my mouth with my teeth clamped on it. My tongue was scarred and swollen for two months). After five scary and miserable days in the hospital, I was able to go home. However, my “fight” with cancer was just beginning.

The month following surgery was nothing short of a nightmare. I had ongoing intense headaches, trouble with balance, an inability to focus my eyes on anything without getting dizzy, and an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. I was taking 10 medications a day and had no appetite. The majority of my days were spent sitting on the couch staring at the wall. I was lucky enough to have a ton of visitors, which helped to bring me out of my funk. Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, they did.

On March 26th, I started my first day of radiation. I didn’t know much about it, other than it was supposed to shrink the remainder of the tumor. My radiation plan was 33 treatments over six and-a-half weeks. I was tattooed in 3 small spots on my face so they knew where to line up the machine and was fitted with a super tight mask so that I wouldn’t move. The radiation itself was a painless experience, taking no more than 15 minutes a treatment. In the first week, I felt the same, although the doctors warned I may start to feel some side effects soon. Were they ever right. The following week, I experienced an impossible nausea. If I even picked my head up, I would vomit. I had no appetite, no desire for anything. I began losing patches of hair all over, and was having mood swings and high anxiety (which I later found out was caused by one of the steroid medications I was on). After the grueling 33 days, I was a shell of my original self. From the beginning of surgery until the end of radiation, I had lost 70 pounds. I was 6 feet tall, and only 125 pounds. However, I was ecstatic that I was done with my treatment.

The doctors had informed me that about 5% of the tumor remained; a tiny spec that was only barely visible under MRI or CT scan. They told me that there was a 25% chance of the tumor returning, and there wasn’t much I could do to better my chances. This didn’t sit well with me, but when prestigious doctors tell you something, they’re usually right. At least that’s what I thought.

Not much changed in the two years following my treatment. I still experienced headaches, dizziness, nausea, balance issues, and loss of hearing in my right ear (which the doctors never would acknowledge even though I had perfect hearing up until the surgery). My diet hadn’t changed, nor was it even a thought to change it. Then one day I was scrolling through Instagram and I saw a post about a documentary called Forks Over Knives. It was claiming that most diseases were preventable and even reversible with a whole foods, plant-based diet. I was extremely skeptical, but decided that it couldn’t hurt to watch.

I’ve never watched anything in my life with such intrigue, such focus. After watching it, I was starved for more information. I read articles and watched any documentary or YouTube clip pertaining to plant-based diets that I could find. I discovered a convincing amount of scientific evidence that diseases were in fact preventable and curable with a plant-based diet. I had such a mix of emotions, ranging from anger to excitement, from sadness to betrayal. Why was I unaware of this information? Why didn’t any of the doctors mention this to me? I decided then to take matters into my own hands.

I stopped working at the deli I had worked at for the past 10 years and began working at an organic food and juice bar. For the next 3 months, I cut out all animal products from my diet and ate as many whole foods as I could. The transition away from animal products was much easier than expected. Having so much knowledge about its effect on the human body helped. It also helped that I watched Earthlings and Cowspiracy, seeing the health and environmental impact, and most importantly to me, the effects it had on the animals.

When it was time for my next check-up, I couldn’t wait to tell my doctor about my diet change and the exciting new information I had learned. After getting the MRI, the doctor was very surprised to tell me that the tiny spec of the tumor was no longer visible. It was instant validation for me. I then told him that I switched my diet, steering away from animal products. He immediately lost interest and said, verbatim, “Well, I’m still going to eat a steak after this.” I never went back to him again.

It’s been over 2 years since cutting out all animal products from my diet. Besides my tumor dissipating, my skin became so clear and smooth. I have more energy now than ever before. I haven’t even been sick, not so much as strep throat or a cold, since changing my diet.

Most importantly, I finally made the connection; that what I put into my body is going to directly affect my health, the health of the planet, and the lives of beautiful animals. There is so much misinformation circulating that it can be very difficult to determine what type of diet is optimal for our health. Based on my research and the amazing transformation of my health, I firmly believe that a whole foods, plant-based diet is the answer.

To this day, I still have some side effects from my treatment. The hearing never came back in my right ear, and I still have poor balance (although it is improving thanks to yoga!). Also, any time I go from sitting to standing, I get an incredible rush to my head and instantly become dizzy and dazed for a few seconds. I always wondered how the only symptoms I felt before the discovery of the tumor were neck and back pain, and then once I began treatments, I became sicker than I have ever been in my life, stuck with lasting side effects.

But what about people who aren’t as lucky as I was? The people who suffer far worse than I did, the people who die from diseases that are preventable and reversible. What if the answer to all our health problems is as simple as what we decide to eat? It is so empowering to know that to a great extent, you can control your own health. My only aspiration is that this information be available for everyone.

People should know that growing old and sick, or even being young and sick, is not a life sentence. We must continue to inform people and let them make their own decisions.

(Source: CNS)

Friday, 28 April 2017

Most men can’t handle a deep woman

The deeper you are, the harder it becomes for you to find someone who wants to be in a relationship with you. Read more on Idea Spots:

1. A Deep Woman Asks Deep Questions.
A deep woman will probe further into your life and ask questions that you may not be prepared to answer. Even on the first date, she will dig deeper and ask personal and philosophical questions – she will never enjoy a shallow conversation.

2. A Deep Woman Is Honest. Too Honest – Often Blunt.
A deep woman takes her integrity seriously and one thing she believes in is honesty. If you ask her anything, she will tell you the truth and she expects the same from you.

3. A Deep Woman Knows What She Wants. Or Who She Wants.
A deep woman knows right away if she likes you and doesn’t need to date around or explore her other options to be sure of her feelings. Her heart only beats for a special few people and she knows them right away.

4. A Deep Woman Wants A Deep Relationship.
She wants long conversations about your life, she wants to hear stories about your past, she wants to understand your pain and she wants to add value to your life. She wants a real relationship that goes beyond going out and having fun.

5. A Deep Woman Is Not Afraid Of Intimacy.
She is not afraid of getting closer or risking getting hurt in the process. She doesn’t think it will entrap her freedom or make her vulnerable. Her depth and intimacy go hand in hand and she will always cherish the beauty of intimacy in relationships.


6. A Deep Woman Sees Through You.
She can see who you really are and what makes you vulnerable. She is not the one to hold back from pointing out what she sees in you or how well she can read you. Even though it makes you uncomfortable, she wants you to know that she understands you and that you can be yourself around her.

7. A Deep Woman Craves Consistency.
She gets turned off by inconsistency or flaky behavior. She desires a strong connection and a solid bond and she knows that consistency is the foundation of that bond. A deep woman will not participate in the dating games.

8. A Deep Woman Is Intense.
She may be slightly intimidating because she brings intensity to everything she does. Her emotions are intense and so are her thoughts. She will never be indifferent about things that matter to her – not everyone is strong enough to handle her intensity.

9. A Deep Woman Only Knows How To Love Deeply.
If you can’t love her deeply, she will walk away. She doesn’t know how to casually date someone she’s really into or be friends with someone she has feelings for. A deep woman knows when someone can’t meet her halfway and she will slowly detach herself from anyone who is not willing to give her the deep love she is looking for.

10. A Deep Woman Won’t Wait For You.
She will not wait for you to make up your mind or watch you be hesitant about her. She is strong and passionate and will not waste her emotions on someone who doesn’t appreciate their depth. Even though she is looking for a special kind of love, a deep woman is not afraid of being on her own.

Essay that got a Malaysian-born girl accepted into all 8 ivy league universities

A 17-year-old girl by the name of Cassandra Hsiao, achieved the incredible feat of being accepted into all eight Ivy League schools.

Hsiao, who resides in Walnut, South California, has offers from Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia, Cornell and Penn, leaving her with arguably the most pleasant headache of her life, as she decides which world-class institution she wants to join as part of the class of 2021.
Hsiao immigrated from Malaysia at just 5 years old. She’s a first-generation immigrant, and while her resume was impressive beyond all measure, it was her essay about learning English that impressed the universities.

Speaking of her impressive resume, her GPA stands at 4.67, while she scored 1540 on her SATs. But her impressive resume somehow gets even better the longer you go on. She’s one of two student body presidents, an editor-in-chief of the school’s magazine and active in her community.

Not satisfied being just good with the books, Hsiao has conducted on-camera interviews on red carpets at film festivals, media screenings and press conferences. She’s even interviewed Captain America himself, Chris Evans!

In addition to being accepted to all Ivy League schools, she was also accepted to Stanford University, John Hopkins University, University of Southern California, Northwestern University, New York University, Amherst College and many others in the UC system.


As promised, here is the much talked about essay that helped Cassandra Hsiao pull of this truly incredible feat:

In our house, English is not English. Not in the phonetic sense, like short a is for apple, but rather in the pronunciation – in our house, snake is snack. Words do not roll off our tongues correctly – yet I, who was pulled out of class to meet with language specialists, and my mother from Malaysia, who pronounces film as flim, understand each other perfectly.

In our house, there is no difference between cast and cash, which was why at a church retreat, people made fun of me for “cashing out demons.” I did not realize the glaring difference between the two Englishes until my teacher corrected my pronunciations of hammock, ladle, and siphon. Classmates laughed because I pronounce accept as except, success as sussess. I was in the Creative Writing conservatory, and yet words failed me when I needed them most.

Suddenly, understanding flower is flour wasn’t enough. I rejected the English that had never seemed broken before, a language that had raised me and taught me everything I knew. Everybody else’s parents spoke with accents smarting of Ph.D.s and university teaching positions. So why couldn’t mine?

My mother spread her sunbaked hands and said, “This is where I came from,” spinning a tale with the English she had taught herself.

When my mother moved from her village to a town in Malaysia, she had to learn a brand new language in middle school: English. In a time when humiliation was encouraged, my mother was defenseless against the cruel words spewing from the teacher, who criticized her paper in front of the class. When she began to cry, the class president stood up and said, “That’s enough.”

“Be like that class president,” my mother said with tears in her eyes. The class president took her under her wing and patiently mended my mother’s strands of language. “She stood up for the weak and used her words to fight back.”

We were both crying now. My mother asked me to teach her proper English so old white ladies at Target wouldn’t laugh at her pronunciation. It has not been easy. There is a measure of guilt when I sew her letters together. Long vowels, double consonants — I am still learning myself. Sometimes I let the brokenness slide to spare her pride but perhaps I have hurt her more to spare mine.

As my mother’s vocabulary began to grow, I mended my own English. Through performing poetry in front of 3000 at my school’s Season Finale event, interviewing people from all walks of life, and writing stories for the stage, I stand against ignorance and become a voice for the homeless, the refugees, the ignored. With my words I fight against jeers pelted at an old Asian street performer on a New York subway. My mother’s eyes are reflected in underprivileged ESL children who have so many stories to tell but do not know how. I fill them with words as they take needle and thread to make a tapestry.

In our house, there is beauty in the way we speak to each other. In our house, language is not broken but rather bursting with emotion. We have built a house out of words. There are friendly snakes in the cupboard and snacks in the tank. It is a crooked house. It is a little messy. But this is where we have made our home.

(Source: After School)

This Satyajit Ray film shows how ‘goddesses’ are the most abused in India

Remember young Sharmila Tagore’s kajal-lined haunting eyes from the black and white movie from 1960? “Devi” (The Goddess), by Satyajit Ray, is about a woman in a patriarchal Bengali household where she is pulled up from the servitude of men to a pedestal reserved for goddesses, overnight. A change too sudden for the benign, innocent woman who crumbles under the pressure, since she does not have ten hands or a lion to ride on. Unfortunately, she’s a little too human.

“Devi” is a Bengali black and white film based on a short story by Prabhat Kumar Mukhopadhyay. It is a study on how superstitions have the potential to ruin lives by simply stabbing rationality in the back. The film will incense the individual who hasn’t prayed even once.

Set sometime in the 19th century, “Devi” is the story of a zamindar family, where old and new age values constantly try to step on each other.

The film begins with Durga Puja celebrations taking place inside the family’s huge compound, culminating with the immersion of the goddess in the river. Actor Chhabi Biswas, who plays the patriarch of the household is a deeply religious man. Having lost his wife five years ago, he is well taken care of by his younger daughter-in-law (Doyamoyee), played by Sharmila Tagore. Her husband and Biswas’ younger son, played by Soumitra Chatterjee, is a learned man and finds it hard to digest the mindset of his father.


Everything is going fine until a dream of the patriarch in the middle of the night convinces him that his younger daughter-in-law is a reincarnation of a goddess. This dream motivates him to get up, go to Doyamoyee and bow down at her feet, claiming her to be a ‘devi‘. Unable to protest and influenced by the patriarch, his elder son does the same.

Overnight, the worship of a clay goddess inside the household takes a backseat and Doyamoyee is worshipped instead. The diya stand reserved for goddesses is moved around by the priest as the powerless ‘devi’ gazes into the abyss.

Patriarchy and feudalism shamelessly ensure that a patriarch’s dream in the middle of the night changes the course of everyone’s life in the family. The stubbornness of an old man unable to see the absurdity of blind faith results in a tragedy. The tragedy lies in the fact that it was unnecessary and could have been avoided.

Biswas’ educated son is shocked to know all that has transpired upon his return and is unable to convince his father that his daughter-in-law is as human as anyone else.

The film is a tragedy, for the trio of superstition, patriarchy, and feudalism, without any mercy, wreak havoc on the lives of people in an aristocratic family. The patriarch, responsible for the mess isn’t spared either. By the end of the film, you’ll be convinced that the barbarity of superstition takes pleasure in harassing the old and the young alike.

However, the worst sufferer is the ‘devi‘, whose world of innocence, which centred around writing letters to her husband and spending time with Khoka, her brother-in-law’s son, comes to a premature end.

Devi’s pain is real and her cries are ignored. One question will certainly come to your mind after watching this masterpiece. Is Doyamoyee a living deity or a slave? And you will know the answer to the question.

(Source: YKA)

Kids who famously crashed their dad's BBC interview now have their own cartoon series

Remember the kids who burst in during their dad's BBC interview?

They've now got their own cartoon series.

A new animated series inspired by Marion and James Kelly, the two kids who interrupted their father Robert Kelly's television interview has been produced by Hans House Productions.

The kids are named Mina and Jack in the series, but they've retained the same outfits that went viral with them.

The Adventures of Mina and Jack sees the duo following their father around the world helping their dad "out of various jams" and solving crimes.

Robert Kelly tweeted earlier last week that he looked "suitably dorky" in the video.

The show was created by a New York couple, Lauren Martin and Jarryd Mandy, who decided to create the animation after watching the original viral video "upwards of a hundred times."

And just in case you've forgotten what took place in the original video, or just need an excuse to watch it again:


The Jewish bahu of Anand Bhavan

Apart from being the oldest living member of the Nehru family, Fori Nehru, who passed away at 109 on Tuesday, was the founder of the Cottage Industries Emporium, is known to have played a silent role in the 1971 War, and inspired a classic on Jewish history.

In 2010, when she granted this reporter a rare audience, I found her pre-occupied by the plight of miners trapped in a Chilean copper mine.

“Have you been following the condition of the miners in Chile? I am so happy that they were finally rescued by NASA,” she said to me, offering tea on a wintry evening in Dharamshala.

Wall Street tracker
Fori had then just turned 102. Apart from international affairs, her other fascination was Wall Street, which she tracked carefully. She was, in fact, a close friend of billionnaire financier George Soros, who flew to India on his private jet to wish her when she turned 100.

Fori, a Hungarian by birth, was Magdolna Friedman before she married Jawaharlal Nehru’s cousin, B.K. Nehru, in 1935 after completing her studies at the London School of Economics.

In the aftermath of the Partition, Fori joined the Emergency Committee for refugees, and started a massive employment campaign for refugee women in 1947, which later evolved into the Cottage Industries Emporium.

During the late 1960s, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi summoned B.K. Nehru, then India’s ambassador to the U.S., to become the governor of Assam. During the 1971 war, it was Fori who travelled along India’s frontiers in Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya to supervise the condition of the refugees driven out by the Pakistan army.

Emergency excesses
Her role in Indira Gandhi’s life has been chronicled by the latter’s biographers. During Indira’s first prime ministerial trip to Washington DC in 1966, Fori, as the wife of the Indian Ambassador , threw a party that would break the ice between the temperamental Prime Minister and President Lyndon Johnson. Among the Nehrus, Fori enjoyed a special rapport with Indira Gandhi.

It is well known that during the Emergency, officials and Congress party members were reluctant to tell the Prime Minister the truth about forced sterilisations and other excesses.

Sensing growing restlessness in the country, however, Fori, in a rare moment of candour, brought Indira face-to-face with the enormous tragedy that the Emergency had unleashed on the people.

Fori was also acutely aware of the need for justice for the Jewish people who suffered under the Holocaust, and has inspired a major work of Jewish history. Letters to Auntie Fori (2002) by British historian and Winston Churchill’s official biographer, Martin Gilbert, is dedicated to her.

Gilbert was a friend of Fori’s son Ashok, and during a trip to India, he learnt that Shobha Nehru, his friend’s mother, was, in fact, Fori Friedman.

(Source: The Hindu)

India's first ropeway across the sea to link Mumbai with Elephanta Island

India's first and longest ropeway will connect Mumbai with the Elephanta Island in the Arabian Sea.

The proposed 8-km long ropeway will be constructed by the Mumbai Port Trust, officials said on Monday.

More on the proposed ropeway
The proposed ropeway will start from Sewri in Mumbai's east coast and end at Raigad district's Elephanta Island

The approximately 40-minute ride by a 20-seater cable car, with a transit station midway will prove to be a major boost to tourism

From the main jetty, tourists can hop aboard a toy train which takes them to the base of the hill, a distance of around 600 metres, for the climb up to the caves complex


Elephanta Island
Elephanta Island is globally renowned for Elephanta Caves, which is a Unesco World Heritage site

Known locally as Gharapuri Caves, the small 16 sq. km island has several archaeological remains pointing to its rich cultural heritage, including the famous temples carved out of rocks

There has been evidence of settlement on the island from 2nd century BC, but the rock-cut temples are believed to have been constructed around 5th-6th century AD

For nearly three decades, the island hosts the famed two-day Elephanta Cultural Festival in winters, organised by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, attracting the best of performers

Overnight stay is not permitted for outsiders on the island which has a thick forest, and a dam to conserve freshwater collected during monsoons. Two British-era canons rest atop a hill on the island, which offer great view of the mainland and Mumbai on the eastern side.

The island is accessible only by ferries from the mainland or motor launches from the Gateway of India, and it takes around an hour for the 10-km cruise from Mumbai and vice versa

According to IANS, Mumbai Port Trust Deputy Chief Engineer PK Sinha said that there will be few stops en route and that the cable height, capacity of cars and other technical details were being worked out.

Discussions and planning for the project -- similar to the ones held in foreign countries like France, Singapore, and China -- were on for over three years.

Last week, a pre-bid meeting convened by MbPT was attended by a handful of top consortiums with technical expertise to implement it.

VR Jogalekar, MbPT spokesperson, said that the proposed ropeway will offer a magnificent view of mudflats on the east coast, which come alive during the flamingo season, the mangroves and the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link to the north.

Currently, around 5,000 domestic and foreign tourists visit the island, inhabited by around 1,200 residents, which are mainly fisherfolk and farmers, in three tiny port villages called Rajbandar, Shentbandar and Morabandar.

(Source: India Today)

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Give women dignity: Jyotika's speech on sexism in Tamil cinema, a much needed insider voice

"Why have a woman follow a hero around saying 'I love you, I love you'?" she asked.

Speaking at the audio launch of Magalir Mattum, Jyotika's second film after her return to cinema, the actor spoke her mind about sexism and misogyny in Kollywood, especially with respect to the on screen portrayal of female characters.

This is a subject that has been frequently discussed in the media and in the public ever since the murder of Infosys employee Swati by her alleged stalker in 2016. The glorification of violence against women in films has been blamed partly for influencing such crimes.

In her speech, Jyotika was candid about the distorted way in which women are represented in films.

"Please give dignity to women in your films," Jyotika appealed to filmmakers. She asked directors to create female characters who were like their mothers, sisters, girlfriends or friends - real women. She pointed out that heroes have crores of fans who imitate their dialogues, style, and clothes. And unlike many (mostly male) defenders of cinema who argue that the medium does not perpetuate violence against women, Jyotika acknowledged that cinema has a big impact on the youth and is responsible for influencing their behaviour towards women.

"Physically, I know you won't give them the clothes that women in your house would wear," she said, referring to how women are objectified in films. "But mentally, give them roles that portray them as people with brains." Jyotika added that filmmakers should avoid making women stand by as comedians speak in "double meaning" and do away with vulgar introductory scenes. "Why have a woman follow a hero around saying 'I love you, I love you'?" she asked.

The actor further took a jibe at the tendency to give a hero a bunch of heroines to make him look good. "Why have four heroines for a hero? Isn't one enough?" she asked.  "Let's make good films, let's be socially responsible - cinema really has a big impact," she said.

Jyotika quit cinema when she was at the peak of her career to marry actor Suriya.  Other than a few films like Kaakha Kaakha and Mozhi, Jyotika, like most heroines of her time, was cast in the "bubbly" girl role. With her comeback with 36 Vayadhiniley, however, she seems keen to do more meaningful films, especially women-centric ones.


Jyotika said that director Bramma's decision to cast her in the role of a woman who is younger than her actual age was unique because in Kollywood, heroines are considered to be too "old" after 30. Heroes, of course, face no such roadblock. She added that she'd been waiting for the right script because all the offers she was getting required her to play the "mommy" role to teenagers and she didn't want to be typecast.

Impressively, she thanked composer Ghibran for working in another woman-centric film, Nayanthara's Aramm and acknowledged the other female stars who'd worked with her in Magalir Mattum. The actor then went to say that she had a message for directors who made big hero films and critiqued the portrayal of female characters in mainstream films.  Jyotika's forthright statements are refreshing, especially because she has been through the whole gamut of acting in such "mass" films and she is married to a top male actor who does such films, too.

However, it's interesting to see how the debate on the on screen representation of women has taken shape, with male critics and fans of cinema typically sticking to a line that defends such portrayals as either inevitable or dismissing the criticism as conjecture. The majority of those who find such depictions problematic continue to remain women. Not surprising since they are at the receiving end of it.

People from the industry have largely remained tight-lipped about the issue, although Dhanush, an actor criticised for glorifying stalking in his films, recently acknowledged in an interview that one cannot deny the influence that actors with large fan bases have on people's behaviour.

Do films have to be disrespectful towards women if they are to become commercial successes? It's a question that filmmakers who ultimately cast actors and control the kind of films that get made should think about. At a time when the Tamil audience is opening up and embracing realistic films with sensible characters like never before, there cannot be any more excuses to run away from the question.

(Source: TNM)

Just like burnout at work, it’s possible to burn out on parenting

This is my life, right now: My children, ages 4 and 5, won’t eat anything but plain bow-tie noodles. My 5-year-old won’t go outside because a goose chased her at the park last spring, and now she has a paralyzing fear of the outdoors. My 4-year-old still routinely climbs into my bed every night, in the middle of the night, and sandwiches himself between me and my husband, insisting on sharing my pillow and breathing into my face as he sleeps. I’m sleep-deprived. I’m strung out. Between shuffling one kid off to physical therapy multiple times per week and coaxing the other to get on the bus every morning (there are geese in our neighborhood), I frequently feel like I’m at the end of my rope.

Parenting is stressful. I don’t need a study to tell me that. But sometimes, it feels more than stressful — it feels like total exhaustion. It feels like burnout.

And it’s not just me. In a survey of more than 2,000 parents recently published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, researchers from the Universit√© Catholique de Louvain in Belgium confirmed what I definitely already knew: Much like working professionals can burn out on their jobs, so too can moms and dads experience “parental burnout.”


For anyone who’s spent five minutes alone with any child (particularly my children), these conclusions aren’t exactly mind-blowing. The concept of parental burnout, in fact, was introduced into scientific research more than 30 years ago in the early 1980s; today, a cursory google of “mommy burnout” yields nearly half a million hits. But the Belgian study, headed by psychology researcher Isabelle Roskam, aimed to delve deeper than earlier research: Rather than simply stating that parental burnout exists, Roskam’s team wanted to paint a more detailed picture of what it looked like: whether men or women were more susceptible, how it differs from professional burnout and regular parenting stress, and — most importantly for future studies on the subject — how it could be measured.

Interestingly, it turns out there are a lot of similarities between parental and professional burnout, and not just in the sense that parents face the same overwhelming despair as overworked interns. Since the mid-20th century, researchers have been documenting the many social and cultural changes that have contributed to the rise in professional burnout. Jobs that were once simply considered trades, for example, are now often idealized as “callings.” People are working longer hours than they used to, and many feel less supported by company resources (such as personnel and equipment). Over the past several decades, this combination of factors has created a perfect storm for a wave of frustration and, eventually, burnout, often defined in academic literature as a combination of exhaustion, inefficacy (feeling less productive and competent), and depersonalization (feeling emotional withdrawal from your work and the people around you).

By the 1990s, the study authors wrote, “the same factors were at play in the parenting domain” in Europe: Parenting values became increasingly non-violent, sensitive, and supportive (read: idealized). Parents were expected to do more for their children in terms of education and attention — and all while an unprecedented amount of women were leaving home and entering the workforce, effectively giving parents more to do with much less time. So it’s not surprising that the study found that around 12 percent of parents surveyed were suffering from a “high level” of parental burnout — that is, experiencing all three criteria (exhaustion, inefficacy, and detachment) more than once a week. The researchers noted that more mothers than fathers took part in the survey, but parents of both genders were equally susceptible.

While the study focused on Belgian parents, parental burnout is no less real on the other side of the ocean; here in the United States, researchers are seeing a lot of the same patterns play out. Parents now work longer hours than previous generations, with less pay, in an environment that is notoriously incompatible with family life: In a 2013 analysis of world labor policies, researchers noted that the United States is one of only eight countries worldwide that doesn’t mandate paid leave to parents of newborns.

The result, for many parents, is something more serious than the burnout they’d feel at a normal job. “Parental burnout is not just burnout, stress, or depression,” Roksam and her colleagues wrote — it’s highly correlated with depression, addiction, and other health problems. The emotional detachment parents experience when they reach the end of their rope can be a particularly harrowing experience, and the study authors also noted that any parent who experiences high levels of stress for a prolonged period of time is at particular risk. It occurs to me that my sleepless nights and the many arguments about eating plain noodles could have contributed not only to parental burnout, but to my chronic anxiety and depression as well. After reading this latest research, I wouldn’t be surprised.

(Source: NYMag)

Dancing with the wolves: A peek into the life of Bihar’s Anaarkali of Ara

When she is done hurling the choicest of abuses at her husband, Pooja Singh Rajput locks herself up in the bedroom of their tiny house at the end of a quiet bylane in Bhojpur district’s Ara town in Bihar. The pretty, tall 26-year-old woman, wearing a royal blue velvet suit with a pink dupatta, a trace of sindoor in the parting of her hair, declares that she won’t perform at the wedding tonight. It is too close to her relatives’ place, who, she believes, are unaware of her profession. Ram Kumar Pandey, her husband of 18 months and the owner of a local orchestra group, doesn’t budge. “One moment, he is my husband. And the next, he is an agent for whom I am just a woman who is supposed to dance dirty before raucous men to help him make a quick buck,” she says, referring to Pandey who has 14 girls on his roster who dance all night to Bhojpuri songs laden with sexual innuendos at hotel parties, ‘room parties’, birthday functions and weddings. “I am not a small-time dancer. I have worked in two films. I will perform on my own terms,” says Pooja, fanning herself with a jute hand fan.

Dismissing her tantrums, Pandey says, “She will be all right in no time. She is a darling.”

Five years ago, Pooja, a Ludhiana native, was shooting for a Bhojpuri music album in Ara, one of more than a dozen albums she has featured in, when her choreographer introduced her to Pandey, a well-built man who sports a handlebar moustache and is never seen sans his grey baseball cap. Pooja did not think very highly of live dancing until Pandey persuaded her to give it a shot. Four years later, she married Pandey and became the ‘star performer’ of his troupe.

Just like Anaarkali, the feisty live performer in the Swara Bhaskar-starrer Anaarkali of Aarah, Pooja is unapologetic about her profession and demands respect as much as money.

In fact, that holds true for the hundreds of stage dancers who are an integral part of Bihar’s live entertainment trade.

Bihar does not have many female dancers to call its own. In the state capital Patna, around 60 km from Ara, Shobha Sigdha, a 24-year-old dancer from North Kolkata’s Sealdah area, is irritable as we have woken her up at 5 pm. Her roommate, Naina Sharma, is also unwelcoming. “The girls were working all night. Usually they return by 6 am and are up only around 7-7.30 pm,” says Ashok Kumar, 31, who runs the event management company Rajdhani Entertainment, and is one of the most popular artiste coordinators in Patna.

Every year during the wedding season -- April to June and October to December -- Ashok’s agents in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Mumbai and Delhi send him a different set of girls.

For the period that they get work through Ashok, the girls are not allowed to smoke, drink, have a boyfriend or exchange their phone numbers with anyone.

In return, Ashok takes care of their accommodation, food and gives them assignments worth Rs 3,000-6,000 per night. Though Ashok says that the most important thing he gives to his artistes is security. During live shows, it is common for unruly, drunk men to open fire. In January, revellers shot dead a 20-year-old dancer during a tilak ceremony in Rohtas district, 150 km south-west of Patna. In December, celebratory firing at a marriage function in Punjab’s Bhatinda district took the life of a wedding dancer. “I run a verification check on the organiser of the event. I ask the organiser to give me a point-person who will be accountable in case anything untoward takes place. Plus, I remain alert myself. When I notice something wrong, I tell the audience to behave properly,” says Ashok.

For the girls, it is the money that keeps them hooked and does not allow them to think about such mishaps. “Sochenge to karenge kaise (I won’t be able to perform if I have these events playing in my mind),” says Shobha, who does not understand Bhojpuri. “I dance to the tune. Music is same everywhere,” she says in a matter- of-fact tone.

Naina is here with her husband Dilip Kumar Sharma, 27, a pad player. Both are first-generation artistes from Munger, east Bihar. “I am always fearful when she goes for an event without me but we can’t help it beyond a point. Every profession has some kind of risk involved.”


A glow worm flickers afar as we take a right turn off the highway. A bumpy road passing through the fields takes us to an illuminated canopy set up in a moist patch of land outside the house of the bride in Garedhiya block, around 40 km from Ara — this is where Pooja will lead a group of four dancers tonight. Ram Kumar Pandey asks Pooja to wait in the SUV as he goes out to check the arrangements for the troupe. The rickety ride has woken up their four-month old baby daughter, Srishti, from deep slumber. A group of kids surround the car and incessantly bang on its window panes.

They don’t get Pooja’s attention.

“My parents are against me taking Srishti to events. It is a bad influence for her. We have a caretaker for her but she is on leave,” says Pooja, consoling the toddler wearing a white frock, wrapped in a pink towel.

While Ram Kumar is nowhere in sight, she makes a quick phone call to a friend in Mumbai who, she says, lives in Andheri West and is a model like herself. “I am coming very soon, may be in a month or two. I am banking on you for accommodation. You better not ditch me,” she says before hanging up. “This one gets Rs 5,000-6,000 per shoot. I sent her my portfolio. She said I could easily get Rs 10,000. These shady dance shows are not meant for me.”

The history of the dance shows, now a fixture at different kinds of functions across Bihar, is less than 50 years old. Women stage dancers in Bihar were first seen working as ‘fillers’ during nautanki, a form of operatic folk theatre that travelled from eastern Uttar Pradesh to neighbouring Bihar. “Audiences crying over Lord Ram’s vanvaas would suddenly be whistling to the thumkas of the female dancer,” says Mohini Devi, a septuagenarian classical singer in Ara.

Gradually, female live dancers broke away and began performing — singing and a bit of dancing -- at events. Naach became a regular feature in parties hosted by landlords and upper caste politicians in rustic Bihar. Among the most acclaimed of these performers, were the sisters Chand Rani and Bijli Rani, who used to live in Natwar, a hamlet 70 km from Ara, around three decades ago.

“Then came the cassette culture that changed things forever,” says Uday Kumar, a Patna-based playwright. “T-Series’ audio cassettes of Chand Rani and Bijli Rani’s songs found takers within Bihar and among lakhs of men from the state who were working in metro cities. These men used to visit their native villages with tape recorders and cassettes, leaving the villagers amused,” says Kumar.

Consequently, female singers and then dancers started replacing male singers in Bihar’s orchestras in the 1980s. Munna Burman, a keyboard player in Ara, recalls the shift. “I have played in shows that had four male singers and one dancer. Now the situation has reversed. I have stopped going to shows where dancers perform because I cannot stand this vulgarity.”

In 2005, after the Maharashtra state government banned dance bars, many of the dancers came to Bihar in search of work.

Three years later, YouTube launched in India and erotic music videos of dui arthiya (double meaning) songs by Bhojpuri folk singers such as Tarabano Faizabadi were put on the site, contributing to the current shape and scale of Bihar’s live entertainment industry. “Men have these soft porn videos playing in their heads when they ask dancers to perform,” says Burman.


At 10 pm, Pooja is giving the final touches to her make-up. The sanskritik mela (cultural fare) begins with Ganesh Vandana followed by three live songs.

Ram Kumar Pandey doubles up as an emcee for the event: He repeatedly requests the groom’s guests to eat dinner; announces the money tossed to artistes; and calls for a fan for the green room.

At 11 pm, the lights dim and Pandey calls Maaya, first dancer for tonight, on the stage. She dances before a deadpan all-male audience to Chhoo le chhoo le (touch me, touch me), a song from 1997 Hindi film Mahaanta, starring Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt. YouTube has multiple music videos and clips of ‘sexy dance’ performed on this song at events in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

After the acts of the three dancers, Pandey calls Pooja, the ‘Bhojpuri glamour,’ on stage. Men welcome her by whistling, clapping and hooting.

Pooja moves like a moth on the wooden stage as disco lights -- pink, violet and orange -- race to catch her flight.

She dances like she does not care. Not about the man on the stage showering Rs 50 notes on her. Not about her relatives who live nearby. Not about the friend expecting her in Mumbai. Not about her daughter left unattended in the airless green room.

Dressed in a pink choli, a black slip beneath it, and a matching sheer lehenga prominently displaying her black underwear, she spins, slides and sashays to the song Raate diya buta ke kya kya kiya (what did you do after turning off the lamp) by popular Bhojpuri singer Pawan Singh.

She grabs a pole and leans into it, sporting a coy but confident smile. This is all she will give away tonight to the raucous crowd of men filming her non-stop on their mobile cameras.

By 1 am, Pooja has changed four costumes and danced to seven songs. As she is about to enter the green room, Pandey holds her hand, signalling to perform once more. She pushes him back angrily and leaves the stage.

Pandey follows her, assuring the audience that khoobsurat si, pyaari si (beautiful, lovely) Pooja will be back on the stage in a moment.

(Source: HT)

Spending time alone is the best way to get real rest, even for extroverts

Picture this. It’s a Saturday morning, and autumn sunshine is falling through the blinds. You have a cup of coffee, a book, and an easy chair. Best of all: you’re alone. Your family, housemates, spouse, or children are elsewhere, and three uninterrupted hours stretch before you.

Restful, right? For introverts, who—goes one popular definition—gain energy by spending time alone, gathering their thoughts and regrouping emotionally, solitude is the obvious choice when it comes to resting.

But a new study into the state of rest has found that for most people, activities done alone—including simple solitude itself—are the best ways to rest. And that includes extroverts who, according to the same definition, tend to gain energy by being with others.

Reading was the most restful activity cited by the 18,000 people who filled out an online survey which the researchers, funded by Wellcome, a large health-focused charity, said was the biggest study run on rest to date. Second came being “in the natural environment,” followed by being alone, then listening to music, then “doing nothing in particular.”

“The analysis team was struck by the observation that a significant number of the top ten restful activities chosen by participants are often carried out alone,” the researchers wrote in their preliminary findings. “It’s interesting to note that social activities including seeing friends and family, or drinking socially, placed lower in the rankings. It’s also not just introverts who rate being alone as a restful activity. Extroverts also value time spent alone, and voted this pastime as more restful than being in the company of other people.”


The study was carried out by the BBC in conjunction with researchers from a number of universities and disciplines, including cognitive neuroscience and anthropology, and involved an online survey filled out by 18,000 people in 134 countries. Felicity Callard, a professor of social science at the University of Durham, who directs the research group, said that the second part of the survey used a psychological scale to work out where people placed themselves on the introvert/extrovert axes, as well as how happy they were.

She said that the hectic nature of modern life has primed us to be very interested in how to rest. “The discourse of busyness is everywhere,” she said. “That sense of boasting, or status coming from being incredibly busy and productive. At the same time people think it’s unsustainable, but rest seems like this unattainable thing.”

One of the most interesting findings, Callard said, was that many people don’t think of work and rest as opposites. Studying those people could give insights to businesses that could help limit stress and stop burnout. While it’s unlikely that work could ever become purely restful, she said, future research will explore ways for the brain to get more of what it needs without so much strife: “How might we organize the rhythms of work to allow rest to become more possible within it?”

(Source: Quartz)

Then and now: How a ’40s movie star dealt with a bad marriage and prying eyes

Kanan Devi broke off her short-lived marriage to Ashok Maitra after he objected to her career, thereby proving herself to be a truly independent spirit.

Singer and actor Kanan Devi (April 22, 1916-July 17, 1922) started acting at the age of 10 and later emerged as one of early Indian cinema’s leading stars in the 1930s and ’40s. An accomplished singer, actress and producer, Kanan Devi was also a proto-feminist who handled unwanted attention and endured unsatisfactory relationships without compromising on her career. An edited excerpt from a biography proves Kanan Devi’s ability to make the best of a messy situation and emerge stronger despite self-doubt, social interference and barbs in the press.

Having settled herself financially and professionally, Kanan now had the luxury to engage in matters of the heart. She writes in her memoir: ‘This period of time in my life was special in that I was able to fulfil the desires of my physical self.’ Kanan candidly states she was attracted to someone who swept into her life at this time like a king in full regalia. Significantly, she does not ever name him.

This was Ashok Maitra whom Kanan met in the mid-1930s. He was the younger son of Heramba Chandra Maitra, a staunch leader of the Brahmo Samaj and principal of City College. Maitra had studied at Hindu School, the Scottish Church College, Calcutta University, and then at Oxford. On his return in 1933–34, he taught at Vishwabharati, Santiniketan.

Kanan and Ashok met in unusual circumstances. Like any fullblooded young man of Bengal, Ashok Maitra was an admirer of Kanan Bala, the singer–actor–star and sex symbol of Calcutta, whose posters would have appeared on the walls of many young men’s hostel rooms and mess halls. Apparently, during a night out, a fairly inebriated Maitra told his friends that what would complete his evening would be to have the lovely Kanan by his side as his companion. Maitra then passed out in an alcoholic stupor. His friends decided to play a prank. They dropped him off in the early hours of the morning at Kanan’s house on Kapalitala Lane with Maitra still comatose.

Their very first interaction was when Kanan found a man in formal evening attire at the doorstep of her house. He was not just prostrate but appeared to be soundly asleep. As she thoughtof ways to wake him up, she no doubt observed and admired his striking looks. But who was he? She knelt down and, gently supporting his neck, lifted his head and placed it on her lap.

As Maitra, still in a drunken haze, slowly drifted out of sleep, he spied a beauteous apparition. She was just the stuff of his dreams – and there she was looking down at him! It was all too much to take. He was probably hallucinating. His first reaction was to promptly close his eyes again.

The problem was Ashok Maitra’s father, Heramba Chandra Maitra. This Brahmo Samajist was known for his idiosyncratic views. Like the majority of the Brahmo Samaj flock, Heramba Maitra was against both theatre and films. He made it clear that he considered Kanan’s profession frivolous and was strongly opposed to this liaison. After several failed attempts, the impasse showed no signs of easing. But the couple found that their attraction for each other continued. They came to an understanding that they could not marry as long as the senior Maitra was around.

And now the big event took place: the wedding of Ashok Maitra and Kanan Bala in December 1940. It was after the death of his father Heramba Maitra that Ashok Maitra, then about thirty-six years old, married Kanan, twenty-five. While the wedding was a simple registry matter without much fanfare, it was a huge occasion in Calcutta. They made a handsome couple. As the news of the marriage broke, couplets were composed and published. Rabindranath Tagore blessed the newly married couple. Her fans were thrilled, but also apprehensive about whether she would continue to act in films after her marriage, especially since the New Theatres star Uma Shashi had cut herself off from music and films after her wedding in 1939.


The wedding also shook up Calcutta society. Much was made of Kanan’s smashing of social barriers: she had aimed high, very high, and she had pulled it off. As a report around the time mentioned, ‘In absolute terms her decision to marry can be seen and is cited as two steps back for women’s liberation from the tyranny of the kitchen. But in the context of her origins and her film and music linkages, this step was regarded as an act of rebellion to gain a rightful place in society.’

After her wedding, Kanan continued to act in films. For Kanan, acting was not just a profession. A born entertainer, acting was what she loved, it was what she had dreamed about for herself.

The accolades she had received in the performing arts were part of her creative life force. And it was what allowed her financial freedom and independence, an elusive dream for many other women.

As Kanan continued her work in films, she had no inkling of what was coming. She genuinely felt that an enlightened person like Ashok Maitra would not have issues about her continuing to work after marriage. And in truth he did not have any issues, not initially anyway. But a storm was brewing. As she put it: ‘But with my immense joy and happiness at the time of my marriage, a moment of great personal and professional achievement, a great storm arose which threatened to disrupt it all.’ Among the first signs was the reaction to Tagore sending the happy couple his blessings and a signed photograph as a token gift.

“This piece of news reached the ears of the upper echelons of Calcutta society. That did it. There was no end, no bounds to their concern and disapproval over this. I have heard that there were several trunk calls made and letters and telegrams sent to the poet asking why I had been given the picture: a film actress has no right to possess an autographed picture of the poet.”

She recalled that posters were printed, asking the people of Calcutta at large if Tagore should personally associate with people like Kanan by sending gifts. ‘They did not realize that I was human and that I was as much open to hurt as others were,’ she sighed sadly. For many years after this incident, whenever Kanan was asked to sing Tagore songs, she would be filled with sorrow at the thought of causing so much grief to the great poet, just over the fact that he had sent her an autographed photo as a gift.

Self-appointed guardians of morality wrote in the press about the inappropriateness of the marriage and the audacity of an actress like Kanan in attempting to pull off a marriage to a man from a well-established, aristocratic family, given her humble origins. Some, led by members of the press in the style of intrusive modern-day paparazzi, would make it a point to assemble and demonstrate in front of Kanan’s home every day, raising slogans and placards, and also turn up at events where she was expected.

This almost daily harassment became too much to cope with, and Kanan stopped her social engagements and even going to the verandah of her home on 11A Kabir Road.

She faced harassment even from members of her own film fraternity. One well-known film director wanted to know all the details of the previous night she had spent with her husband. Another director asked her to stop dressing up after she got married, for, he pointed out to her, even applying a bindi on her forehead made her look more beautiful.

She faced severe opposition primarily because she continued her association with music and films. This was a very dark time for Kanan. Clearly, society still viewed an artiste in music and films as a marginal character, to be excluded from genteel society.

The pressure that steadily built up over the opposition of Calcutta society to the marriage, the continuous reminders pointing to her origins, the social disapprobation about her continuing to act in films after her wedding, began to tell on the marriage. Ashok then laid down the condition that Kanan stop all association with music and films.

Ashok’s diktat came as a shock to Kanan. She had never thought an educated and enlightened person like Ashok would have an issue with her carrying on work after marriage. Neither had she anticipated the kind of public outrage generated by her marriage into a revered family. Far from protecting her from public outrage, he was now making the unreasonable demand that she give up music and films. She saw this as his inability to deal with the bad press and opposition. It was a demand she was not prepared to accept as it meant giving up everything she had built up carefully over the years, in essence, her identity. There was also the issue as to who would financially support the many dependents she had had from the age of ten if she, the main breadwinner, gave up her career in films.

There were heated arguments whenever anyone from the film industry called her on the telephone or visited the house. Sometimes he would wrest away the telephone instrument from her hand. Kanan viewed this behaviour as uncalled-for interference in her work, amounting to cruelty and assault.

Eventually the marriage failed.

Though her tempestuous relationship with Ashok Maitra came to an end, the relationship with Kusumkumari Devi, Ashok’s mother, endured. Kusumkumari Devi continued to treat Kanan as her Bouma (daughter-in-law). Kanan retained her affection and contact with Ashok Maitra’s mother and it was in Kanan’s arms that Kusumkumari breathed her last at Ashok Maitra’s home in Giridih.

(Source: Scroll)

Why India won't remember the day Kashmiri Pandits were left to die

Not one person has been convicted, leave alone punished for the massacre of more than a thousand Hindus of the Valley.

January 19, 1990, a date etched in our collective memory, a date that is hard to forget no matter how hard one tries to erase the memories of that night, they come back to haunt you again and again.

But then January 19, 1990 did not happen in a day.

For years, Pakistan kept training and indoctrinating many young Kashmiri Muslims to wage a jihad against India in Kashmir. Training camps were being operated in PoK and many Kashmiri Muslim boys were being trained to fight the infidels. Armed with Kalashnikovs and the ideology of hate these terrorists came back to Kashmir to kill, maim and separate Kashmir from India. It wasn’t as if the state government or the central government did not know that all this was happening, but almost as if in a tacit understanding with the terrorists it did nothing to tackle the surge of terrorism. On the contrary, the NC government kept releasing dreaded terrorists - almost 70 of them between July to November 1989. During all this time, the writ of the terrorists went unchallenged. The National Conference government had run away and abdicated all its responsibilities. There was no administration at all.

The Kashmiri Pandits were sitting ducks waiting to be murdered.

Already the diktat of militants ran in vast swathes of Kashmir valley. Strange diktats started appearing on the walls. Everything Indian was the new untouchable. Terrorists would put out hit lists of people to be killed for being pro-India or “anti-movement”.

Prominent Kashmiri Pandits were already being targeted and killed. BJP leader and prominent social activist Tika Lal Taploo was killed in broad day light in down town Sringar...Justice Nilakanth Ganjoo was gunned down and it took hours for his body to be picked up from the road. Advocate Prem Nath Bhat was brutally killed in Anantnag area of South Kashmir. Many more not so well known were killed. The message was loud and clear. Kashmiri Pandits were targets and no one could save them. It seemed nobody cared about whether they lived, died or perished. It still wasn’t January, 1990. But Kashmiri Pandits hoped against hope that the powerful Indian nation would come to their rescue. They stayed put in the only place they knew as home.

On January 4, 1990, Aftab published a press release of Hizbul Mujahideen asking all Hindus to leave. Another newspaper Al-Safa published the same press release. Soon notices to leave were pasted on the doors of Pandits.

Yet all that happened so far would now pale into insignificance compared to what was to happen on the fateful night of January 19, 1990. It wasn’t as if one gali or one mohalla or one road was to erupt in a forceful orgy to scare and drive away Pandits.

As the darkness of the night overtook the feeble sunlight of the day the forces of evil had taken over entire Kashmir. From the bylanes of downtown Habbakadal to the nooks and corners of Rainawari, from the apple towns of Sopore and Shopian, from the bustling upscale Srinagar to sleepy hamlets of Kupwara and Handwara, there was just one cry. The one to drive away Pandits.

Thousands, nay lacs of adrenalin pumped Kashmiris, marched into the streets of the Valley shouting slogans never heard before. Mosques all over Kashmir blared out loud that Kashmir was to become Pakistan. Songs eulogising the Mujahideen were played over and over again.

Jago Jago Subah Huyee; Rus ne Baazi Haari Hain, Hind par larzaan tare hain, Ab Kashmir ki baaree hain

(Wake up, Russia has fallen and India eyes defeat, It is the turn of Kashmir to be freed.)

This song was played for a long duration, many times over and as soon as it ended, it gave way to sloganeering of a different kind, the kind that did not just target the establishment of India, but one which targeted the Pandits directly.

The slogans that were now filling the air left us in no doubt that we were about to be defiled or killed.

Hum Kya Chahte Azadi… (We want freedom)
Azzadi Ka Matlab Kya, La Illah Il lallah (Freedom means La Illah Il Laalh)
Agar Kashmir Main Rehna Hoga, Allah-u-Akbar Kehna Hoga (If you want to live in Kashmir, you have to say Allah-u-Akbar)
Ae Zalimo Ae Kafiro, Kashmir Hamara (Chod Do Oh Cruel people, you the Kafirs, Leave our Kashmir)
Yahan kya Chalega Nizam-e-Mustafa...
The rule of the Prophet will reign here... was still resounding in our ears when we started hearing:

We want Kashmir to become Pakistan without Pandit men but with their women.
It was this last slogan that terrified Kashmiri Pandits more than the fear of imminent death. Most families hid their womenfolk in attics or store rooms and gave them clear instructions to kill them just in case the crowd barged in. This was the night of doom and gloom one that refused to end. The darkness hid faces of people who were our friends and neighbours, our classmates and teammates, ones we had grown up with, yet those who were baying for our blood or wanting to rape our daughters and sisters.

The message was loud and clear. Raliv Galiv ya Chaliv - Join us, Die or Flee.


There wasn’t one village, one street, one locality, one society where these slogans weren’t shouted. The pre-planned and well orchestrated mobs that had descended on the streets of Kashmir left no one in doubt about the fate that awaited Kashmiri Pandits. As usual the administration or police was nowhere to be seen or heard of. It was an era when there was no social media and no mobile phones, and telephone density in Kashmir was next to nil. The unthinkable was to be done. Most Kashmiri Pandits started packing whatever little they could under the given circumstances and started fleeing to save their honour and lives. People fled in whatever they could. They hid under canvas covers of trucks, left in buses, hired taxis. The exodus had started. The government, intelligentsia, the seculars, the conscience keepers of this nation - all had gone to sleep. No one even talked about it.

The days that followed the night of January 19, 1990 saw Kashmiri Pandits being killed in scores every day. Atrocities against KPs had become the order of the day. From Budgam to Brijbehara, from Kupwara to Kanikadal there was hardly a day when Kashmiri Pandits weren’t been killed. Most brutal forms of torture from gouging out of eyes, to cutting genitals, to burning bodies with cigarette butts and even chopping off body parts were used to kill Pandits. Sarwanand Kaul Premi, a noted scholar had nails were hammered in place of his tilak. BK Ganjoo was killed in his home and his wife was asked to eat the rice soaked in his blood. Sarla Bhat a nurse was gangraped before being killed and her naked body was thrown on the street. The killers of Ravinder Pandita of Mattan danced over his body. The bodies of Brijlal and Choti were tied to a jeep in Shopian and dragged for 10 km.

Girja Tikoo, a school teacher in Bandipora, was gangraped before being killed. There are hundreds of such stories. One can almost write a book on the people who suffered at the hands of the terrorists while the meek and feeble Indian state looked the other way. A notorious terrorist named Bitta Karate alone killed more than 20 Pandits and had no shame accepting the same. JKLF was responsible for almost all the killings in 1990. More than a thousand Pandits were killed, tortured and raped.

The exodus meanwhile carried on.

By 1991, most Pandits had fled the valley. They were housed in huge inhospitable torn tented camps on the fringes of Jammu city. More than 50,000 families had fled and were living in camps which were bereft of even basic facilities like toilets. Each family was allotted a tent, sometimes more than 10 members shared a ramshackle tent where privacy was literally non-existent. In these camps, deaths were reported because of disease, more because of snakebites and, as the summer came, hundreds died of sun stroke and heat. No one seemed to bother. Neither the state administration nor the champions of human rights. No international aid agencies came to their rescue, neither did the government of India. The Kashmiri Pandits were left to die.

No more than 20,000 Pandits were living in Kashmir now. The process of ethnic cleansing continued in Kashmir with terrorists and a lot of Kashmiri Muslim population burning and desecrating shrines and temples of Hindu worship. Looting and arson took place in abandon. Thousands of Pandit homes, hundreds of temples were burnt and razed to ground. The land was later encroached upon. All this was happening in a multicultural, secular India but the secularists did not seem bothered.

But the Pakistan backed terrorists weren’t done yet. Their insatiable appetite for killings wasn’t satiated yet. More Pandits were to be killed. Seven massacres were inflicted on the hapless community. The terrorists did not even spare two-month old kids. Entire villages of Pandits were wiped off. Yet not a tear was shed, not an award returned, no protest marches taken out, no press statements came from film stars condemning the killing of an entire race.

As we stand today, not one person has been convicted, leave alone punished for the killing of more than a thousand Kashmiri Pandits. No commission of enquiry on the lines of 1984 anti Sikh riots or 2002 post Godhra riots has ever been commissioned to go into the cause of killings and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. No government has bothered to go after the murderers of Kashmiri Pandits. As our homes lie deserted, encroached and our temples in ruins, we stand at the verge of extinction, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue bothering either our political parties or the so called human rights activists.

(Source: DailyO)

The dangers of Hindi chauvinism

Hindi can be first among equals when it comes to national languages, but it cannot hope to become the only one

One of the most detailed debates in the Constituent Assembly was whether Hindi should be the official language of India. Even today, anybody reading the brilliant debates in the constituent assembly may be puzzled by why so much time was spent on the language issue compared to many other more fundamental constitutional design challenges. B.R. Ambedkar later revealed that no other issue had generated as much heat as the one on the official language of the new republic. Hindi was accepted by a slim margin of one vote. It was supposed to replace English in 1965 as the language of government. The status quo was maintained after violent agitations in several states of peninsular India.

Indian nationalists have for long recognized that a diverse country such as ours needs a common language for communication. The natural candidate for that is either the language most commonly spoken in India or the classical language of Indian civilization—Hindi or Sanskrit. The Zionists united Israel by reviving Hebrew. The overwhelming majority of national leaders—from M.K. Gandhi to Vinayak Damodar Savarkar—wanted some variant of Hindi. Ambedkar argued for Sanskrit and Subhas Chandra Bose was in favour of Hindi written in the Roman script.

All these issues have come to a head once again—be it the decision to have milestones on national highways in Tamil Nadu written in Hindi, the advice given by the Central government that all its ministers should make their speeches in Hindi, or making Hindi compulsory in schools. Such impositions will quite naturally come up against opposition in states that have cultural identities based on other languages. India is not Pakistan, but it is useful to remember that the imposition of Urdu on the Bengalis was the first catalyst of the movement that eventually created Bangladesh.


There are a few issues that need clarity. First, Hindi is best placed as a language to ease communication between different states. It cannot be seen as a replacement for local languages as a lingua franca.

Second, the discussion has been about Hindi as an official language of the Indian nation. It is not meant to be a national language.

Third, native Hindi speakers who are puzzled at the opposition to the imposition of their language on other citizens should ask themselves how many other Indian languages they have tried to learn.

Fourth, India finally accepted a system of linguistic states because of the realities of sub-national identity that should never be ignored.

The point to be made is that the forced spread of Hindi is a disservice that Hindi chauvinists are doing to their own language. Their insensitive actions will have angry reactions—and that is the last thing India needs at this juncture. Hindi chauvinism has had several unthinking champions. Even sophisticated leaders such as the socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia and the great scholar Rahul Sankrityayan—though not chauvinists —did not take account of the reaction in other parts of India to their aggressive insistence of Hindi. The Narendra Modi government has its ideological roots in the Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan way of thinking. It should not be stoking the dying embers of linguistic conflict.

The curious fact is that Hindi has very peacefully spread across the country over the past 50 years. Few would today remember the language riots in what was then Madras. Hindi cinema has done a lot to make the language understood in most parts of the country; it may not be the pure Hindi that was mercilessly lampooned in the 1970s comedy Chupke Chupke, but a more open variant that has absorbed even the lingo of the Mumbai streets. Cable television has also helped this process in more recent years.

A traveller can today hear Hindi spoken in most corners of the country. The language is bound to spread further in the coming years thanks to migration, commerce and entertainment. That should be welcomed. What should not be welcomed is either the force-feeding of the language with colonial intent or seeing it as a substitute for Gujarati, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, etc., in their respective states. The eighth schedule of the Constitution lists 22 national languages. Hindi can be the first among equals. It cannot hope to become the only one.

These are crucial issues that the most aggressive votaries of Hindi often forget. India has seen language riots when the republic was young. We are now a more mature nation—and reopening those old wounds is pointless. Especially when Hindi has peacefully spread across the country and can live with other Indian languages.

(Source: Live Mint)

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Fifth death anniversary of two Black cats

Two Black cats which troubled us died in an accident five years ago on this day. We all, including our neighbours, were so relieved by the death of those two ominous black cats that each of us remember how they troubled us each day. Not one did feel bad when heard about the accident. Surprisingly, both the cats were run over by a speeding vehicle, on the same day at the same spot. Hope they are resting in peace, wherever they are and hope they are not troubling anyone in the other world!


   

Dhatri Kutty and Smarthavicharam

When a dirty woman called me jealous of her, a friend laughed and said this is what exactly Dhatri Kutty did ages ago. She slept with more than 65 men and when caught red-handed she blamed others being jealous of her! I was surprised to hear the story from her. Then I got to read the whole story of Dhatri Kutty on Spider Kerala. I'm sure you'll enjoy this:

Dhatri Kutty – The Story of a Social Revenge by high Society Lady
Thathri Kutty (is also known as Dhatri Kutty and Savithri antharjanam) was born in Kalpakasseri Illam.Read this story of a bold and beautiful Dhatri Kutty who caused a social upheaval in the Nampoodiri and Nair communities in Kerala in the early years of 20th century (1900s) by her daring, cunning and revengeful act of prostitution with famed men of the time.

Tatri's trial of Chastity – Smarthavicharam
As the name suggests it is a real life incident that happened in the central part of Kerala. Smarthavicharam (chastity trial) is a procedure followed by the Nampoodiri Community against their girls or ladies if girls/ladies are found guilty of adultery or illicit/illegitimate sexual contact with other men than the husband. It is a trial to punish the erring women of Nampoodiri families. This procedure is followed only in their community.

This particular trial of chastity or Smarthavicharam is in respect of the prostitution indulged by a Nampoodiri lady by name Dhatri Kutty involving more than 65 males of the society from various communities. Most of these males were famous and are of a high level in the society. The trial took nearly 7 months to complete. The trial had to be conducted in 3 places at Chemmanthitta, Pallimana and Irinjalakuda. There were few trials before and after this particular Smarthavicharam which attracted as much attention of not only of entire state Kerala but even the neighboring states and the country itself.

This is the only one which went to the high court which was at Madras (present Chennai) for the entire South at that time. The court gave a verdict that the Smarthavicharam held in this case was null. However the effect of the Smarthavicharam was already implemented and at that time no one can challenge the Nampoodiri community decisions. So those who were found guilty by the Smarthans were punished as per the system by ordering Brashtu (excommunications – out casting from society) except the two who died immediately.

Dhatri Kutty was a girl born in the village Ezhumangad (popularly known as Arangotukara), on the border of Trichur District but in Palakkad district of Kerala. The Smarthavicharam about Dhatri was decided when her husband complained about her infidelity – adultery. The authorities' concerned decided to try her through the Smartha Vicharam procedure that was the only procedure followed by the Nampoodiri Community against their women.

From the time her illicit relations were noticed till the trial was over she was kept in isolated houses without giving any chance to her meet anybody. Even during the trial she was asked questions and was allowed to answer from the isolated place without the chance to see her questioners or anybody else nor could the others see her. There was her maid servant who supplied the necessities to Dhatri. That was the general practice for such cases.

She was intimated of the charge and asked her to have her say on the issue. She admitted having committed adultery with so many persons and was prepared to have the punishment on condition that along with her the male members of the society who had enjoyed her should also be given identical punishment as that was being given to her. Since there was no practice of punishment for men for such offense till that time, the smarthans (persons trying the accused in such cases) tried to ignore her but she was adamant and gradually she got the support of the population of the area.

The persons doing the Smartha Vicharam were forced to refer the matter to the then Raja of Cochin under whose jurisdiction this matter was. The Raja under pressure from social organizations had to agree to her condition and the Smartha Vicharam (trial) started. If any men are accused, the lady concerned had to give proof of his having had sex with her. She said to the Smarthas that she has a large number of men and she will give the name and addresses of the persons one by one and they are to be tried one by one. The evidence includes some identification marks on covered part of the body of the males and by identifying the persons in an identification parade.

She started giving names one by one. The persons were subject to identification by Dhatri and then as identification marks she gave the details of the marks on or around the genitals of the persons so accurately that the persons had no escape. When she came to the name of 65th man, families in the twin villages and other villages around and families from outside the village were apprehensive that someone from their families also may be named by her and started feeling the extreme heat of the situation and forced to stop the trial.

So only these 65 came under the category of guilty. Out of these persons two had died during the process and some others left the country to some foreign destination to escape the stigma and punishment. At least there were another three who escaped the situation. One of them gave false name and address to Dhatri and could not be traced. Another was a Muslim. The Muslims do not have the Brashtu system and did not come under the Smartha Vicharam.

One more escaped due to some other reason not known. Apart from these if there were any others, it was known only to the lady and her companion. During the trial it was revealed that her jarans (men who have illicit relation with ladies) included 30 Namboodiris, 10 Iyers (paradesi Brahmins, Tamil Brahmins or Pattars), 13 ambalavaasis, people in the services of temples like those who clean the inner prakaram, those who play drums or perform kathakali, koothu etc (outside the Sree Kovil but inside the compound of the temple) and 11 Nairs. Dhatri was given the punishment of Brashtu along with the available male members of the 65 tried.

What happened to her afterwards was not known. There are several gossips about her life after the Brashtu. It was said that the companion of Dhatri broke down at her master's fate and tried to persuade Dhatri to go to Mannanar's asylum and there were several of them waiting for accommodating her as a wife or sister. Dhatri refused and faded into obscurity may be by her own choice. There was a very strong gossip that she went to an Anglo Indian man who was a railway employee at Pothannur railway station. People firmly believed that Dhatri lived up to the age of 80 somewhere around Coimbatore in Madras State (present Tamilnad State).


The Ancestral House of Tatri Kutty
It is the story of a real life event that happened between the years 1850 and 1910 when the communication and transport facilities were at a very low level. It is an unimaginable daring action in a kugramam (a backward village with no infrastructure at that time) Ezhumangad known more popularly as Arangotukara in Palakkad District of Kerala State by a lady of most orthodox community of that time.

The centre stage of the story is a house in the junction of two villages divided by a village road. One side of the road is Ezhumangad village in Thirumittakode Panchayath, Ottapalam Taluk, Palakkad District and the other side is the village Arangotukara (Arangode) in Desamangalam Panchayath, Thalapilli Taluk of Thrissur District, Kerala State. This village is a beautiful village surrounded by paddy fields, few hills scattered around with plenty of trees, 4 temples, ponds and tanks. The house is known as Kalpakasseri Illam (Mana – houses of Namboodiri), a house of a rich zamindar (landlord) of the area at the time of the story.

The house was in a compound of about 4 – 5 acres of land and as any house of rich family was a sprawling one with all facilities available at that time. I belong to the same village and my ancestral house is the 4th house on to the South of the then Kalpakasseri Mana. This mana was right opposite to the village main temple of Karthyayani Devi on the Arangode side.

During my childhood the mana was already nonexistent and only some ruins were seen in the land. There were the remains of some idols worshiped by the family members of the Mana, two wells one for the kitchen and other for outside use and two ponds one for the ladies of the house and the other for men of the family. The house was on higher level of about 2 – 3 feet from the road level. My knowledge of the subject is through hearsay, over hearing conversations and some literature on the subject.

My father, as any grown up person at that time had a good knowledge about the family and the actions of the heroine or villain, Dhatri Kutty after she was caught at her own instance through her husband for having illicit / illegitimate sexual relations with numerous men. My father being very strict and short tempered, I could not ask him and get any detail. However I used to be with him whenever, I do not have to study for school and I could get some information by gossip or through conversations between him and his friends about Dhatr's life.

Then there were discussions between self and my school mate friends from what they have overheard through their parents or others. Because it is on hearsay and I do not want to hurt anybody who may be directly or indirectly connected with the characters or incidents involved in this article I have made some slight changes in the names and narration of the facts.

Childhood of Dhatri Kutty
Thathri Kutty (is also known as Dhatri Kutty and Savithri antharjanam) was born in the above mentioned Kalpakasseri Illam. There is no record available about her birth or childhood so not much is known about these aspects o f her. But one thing with definite date in her case is the Brashtu order which was on the 13th of July, 1905. In the days of lack of communications to complete the activities she could have taken about 30 to 40 years and adding her age at marriage at 13 the birth year might be between 1860 and 1870.

There was a gossip that when she was born her father Kalpakasseri Ashtamoorthi Namboodiri was going towards Arangotukara from Pattambi side. Those days the nearest centre to the village was Pattambi where there is a railway station perhaps with one train in a day between Madras (now Chennai) and Mangalapuram (Mangalore) and one or two buses from Palakkad to Calicut or so via Pattambi.

When he was crossing the Bharatha Puzha from Pattambi to Thirumittakode en route to Arangode he got the news of the birth of his daughter and on consultation of an astrologer, he was informed that the birth was at an inauspicious time and the girl will be responsible for a calamity involving the destruction of his family. After three years another girl was born, the younger sister to Dhatri Kutty.

After that Dhatri lost the love and affection of her mother who was fully engrossed with the new born child. Because of the astrological prediction the family members were a bit apprehensive of the girl. The girl was extraordinary intelligent and wanted to study in school. Those days girls were not allowed to go out alone especially of the orthodox Nampoodiri community.

Hence allowing her to study was not agreed to by her parents in spite of her obstinate pressure. Being intelligent and ingenious she learned to read and write to some extent from brothers. She was having good appreciation of fine arts and had learned something about Kathakali, music etc. Those days girls are married at a very young age of 11 years onwards. Accordingly Dhatri Kutty was married off at a very young age to Chemmanthatta Kuriyedathu Raman Namboodiri (Aphan Nampoodiri) of Mukundapuram Taluk a much older man, almost the age of her father. Thereafter there was not much information about her for some time.

Dhatri Kutty's Illicit Relations
Between the period of 1200 and 1950 A D, the Zamindari system was very powerful in Kerala. The ladies of landlords' will have at least one maid servant cum companion (daasi - thozhi) exclusively to be with the lady. In Kerala the Zamindars were the Nampoodiris - the Kerala Brahmins. The maid servant cum companions of Brahmin girls/ladies used to be Nair girls/lades who will be company to the Nampoodiri ladies (Antharjanams – akathulla alu as they are called).

Dhatri Kutty had one Nair lady companion who was very loyal to her and was helping her without question in anything Dhatri wanted. Through the help of her thozhi Dhatri had arranged a secluded place to have sexual relations with males other than her husband. Dhatri was a very highly intelligent lady now. Her husband was a much older man who had other wives. He may not have been able to satisfy her sexual needs.

Besides Dhatri could not fulfill her ambition to study and lead a normal girl's life due to the ill arrangements of the system. She used to gather information of all well known people of the society of not only of her villages of Ezhumangad – Arangotukara but nearby and far way also. She was such a beautiful lady that anybody would like to possess her. Since she is already married people will be happy to try to spend some time with her and have sex with her for at least once if there is any possibility. Such being the case she had no difficulty in getting the men she wanted to be in bed or otherwise with her.

She had arranged to get most of the well know people of her time who are grown up enough to visit her for sex. It is not known whether she had sexual relation with anybody for a second time. It had gone on for a long time and a number of persons had contact with her at the place she had arranged for this purpose through her thozhi. She being a very intelligent lady, it is not possible for anybody to say whether she had really sex with all or she had fooled some of them without having sex. That fact was known only to her and the persons concerned.

But one thing is sure whether she had sex or not with the persons who visited her, she had the details of identification marks/birth marks of the body of the visitor and had noted the same in some way for future use against these persons with their names and residences without their knowledge. The numbers of persons involved were so many and it was known only to her and her maid.

What I understood about her mode of communication was that she used to get information about famous people throughout the length and breadth of Kerala through her companion. She used to send her maid to establish contact with the persons one by one and invite them. Since the Nampoodiri ladies are seen only by their fathers till marriage and their after only by their husbands, remaining unknown is not much difficult especially when the community had the system of not seen and not being seen between the Antharjanams and men other than father up to marriage and there after only by the husband. And with the system of mara (hide) kuda (umbrella used by Nampoodiri ladies to cover upper parts of body and face from others) it will not be difficult to go out with the maid unknown.

In the place where she was operating as a prostitute she used all her skills so satisfy the men who go to her. But none of them knew her as an antharjanam of Dhatrikutty for the above mentioned reasons. Then one day an old man from her community came to her either by knowing the possible flick through somebody or as per her way of inviting the males. He had a nice time and spent some time talking to her that he would like to have her permanently for himself if possible.

At the end of it she opened her veil which she was wearing most of the time outside her house. The man had the shock of his life on seeing her as she was none else than his wedded wife. He was shaken out of his wits, ran out shouting which made people to gather. Those days the tilt of society against the women was much stronger especially for the upper caste Namboodiri Brahmin ladies. Her husband wanted her to be punished.

For trial of such illicit or illegitimate sex of Nampoodiri ladies there is system of trial known as 'Smartha Vicharam' where with the permission of the ruling Raja of the area, the learned Brahmins of 3 or more in numbers will intimate the charges against the lady concerned and give her a chance to reply on the matter. In overwhelming majority of cases the ladies get excommunicated from the society which is known as Brashtu (out casting).

The family of the ladies will send her out of the house and do the last rites (irikke pindam – irikke means while living and pindam means doing last rites too dead persons) to her as if she is already a dead person. After this Brashtu she is no longer considered as human being. She will be addressed as if she is an object like 'sadhanam' or 'it' 'that' etc. After that anything may happen to her.

There may be some vulture like males waiting to take chance or there were some institutions where such ladies were being accommodated. The owners of these institutions known as Mannanars have immunity from Brashtu. Such places have some system where there are two gates/entrances. If the lady comes through a particular gate she is taken as wife and if through the other gate she is treated as a sister. Mannanars are from a royal sect of Thiyya community that ruled some parts of Malabar between Kannur and Kasargod.

The Mannanars are supposed to have been following Buddhism. They used to give refuge to Antharjanams (Nampoodiri ladies) who were declared outcaste in a Smarthavicharam. Since the Mannanars follow Buddhism they have no problem with Brashtu and more over they consider themselves as Royals where they only decide things for them.

It is also said that the Chakyars (those who perform koothu and chakyars koothu in the temple premises) were also giving asylum to the outcast Nampoodiri ladies/girls. It is a bit difficult to accept this as the Chakyars like the ambalavaasis and close proximate people will not be allowed to give such asylum of the Nampoodiri ladies. It was not know whether Dhatri was taking any money for the service she was giving to the men and where she was conduction these services.

Possible connections with the known persons
The chief of the Smarthans committee of five members was the late Jatavedan thirumeni (as the Nampoodiris and the thampurans etc were addressed at that time). The famous writer Madambu Kunhikuttan is the grandson of the famous late Jatavedan Nampoodiri. His two uncles, that is the brothers of Jatavedan Nampoodiri were also involved with the sexual act and were given the order of Brashtu.

It is rumoured that one Gopala Menon who was given the verdict of Brashtu escaped to the then Ceylon (present Sri Lanka) to avoid the stigma and shame. As per gossips the super hero of film and of Tamilinas, M G Ramachandran (M G R) was a son of the said Gopala Menon.

Another person's name which was doing the round was the super heroine of Malayalam films. Some people feel that Sheela is the granddaughter of Dhatri Kutty.

Dhatri was particularly targeting persons who are supposed to be of very high moral standing, famous personalities, well known scholars of that time, musicians, kathakali artists and other prominent high society people of that time from the area under the erstwhile Cochin state and Malabar to sleep with her. She had clinching proof of identification marks on the covered parts of the persons, and in many cases letters written by these people to her. It was being rumoured that the then celebrated Kathakali artists Kavunkal Shankara Panicker, Kaattalathu Madhavan Nair, Panangavil Narayanan Nambiar, Achutha Poduval etc were in the list and they had to leave their professions and their places.

Consequences to her families and her Jarans
Her father committed suicide after the incident. Other members of the family fled out of the village and were lost touch with anybody from the village or any nearby areas. The property was abandoned for some years and later slowly some unscrupulous people encroached and appropriated the same. During my childhood it was a deserted land though in the centre of the village right opposite to the main temple and people were afraid of going into the ruined place.

There were some deities of the family in abandoned condition with no one daring to do anything about it. There was a huge tree with the first branch about 40 feet high from ground, and the thickness may about 20 - 30 feet which was later sold to the boat making people. There was a peepal tree at the back end of the compound from which some birds, owls and another variety known at that time as Kalan Kozhi. The owl makes noise in the night which is fearsome at that time as there was no battery torch or electricity. The noise of the Kalan Kozhi is still more frightening.

There was a belief that when someone is about to die or killed the Kalan Kozhi will make the cry to alert the coming of the Kalan (Yaman) and for this reason it got its name. Then there are some whose names were not disclosed or not allowed to be disclosed by abruptly closing the trial after the 65th man of Dhatri's list. 62 of them had to leave homes, most of them being very high level in the society or famous in their professions, humiliated in the society and had to live on begging and treated by society worse than those who are suffering from terrible contagious diseases. They cannot come anywhere near anybody within 30 feet. In my school days I have come across 2 – 3 of them.

Books and Movies on Dhatri's life
There are 3 – 4 stories and 2 – 3 films on the subject. In fact it will appear to be like the story of a super hit movie of "A" certificate category. The centre character of the incident is one Tatrikutty (Dhatrikutty or Savithrikutty antharjanam).

There are books on the subject with titles 'Thathrikuttyude Smarthvicharam' (Tatri's Trial of Chastity - known those days as Smarthavicharam) by Alankode Leelakrishnan, 'Kuriyedathu Thathri' by Nandan (VT Nandakumar), 'Cast me out if you will' by Lalithambika Antherjanam, 'Brashtu (excommunication or out casting from society)'by Sri Madambu Kunhukuttan whose grandfather was the main Smarthan, 'Outcaste' translation of M Kunhukuttan's book by Vasanthi Sankaranarayanan, The British Commission by Pavithran, Malabar Manual by Logan Castes & tribes of Southern India by E Thurston, Nambuthiris by Fred Fawcett and a story on the subject by Smt Lalithambika Antherjanam with the title 'Pratikara Devata (Goddess of revenge)'. A story of the subject has also come as serial in Mathrubhumi weekly during 1998 -1999.

There are two films directly on this incident by name Brashtu and Parinayam (National award winner -1994). There were several other films with stories borrowed from the Tatrikutty incident with various names at different times. Even in other languages such films were made.

Social Upheaval
This was a landmark or historical trial (Smartha Vicharam) in many respects. This was one with 65 persons involved. Possibly the number might have been much more had the trial continued instead of abruptly stopped further trials. Even there were strong rumors that the next person may the Kochi Maharaja himself. That was the extent of her attraction as a desirable lady to sleep with. Till that time only the ladies were tried and punished.

In this case Dhatri forced the authorities to give equal justice to lady and the men involved. For the entire duration of the trial of about 7 months the family members of all persons of some social standing were in tenterhooks or tremendous anxiety and fear that the next name may be one from their family. The persons involved were all of high standing one in the society and well known professionals. The whole incident had a shattering effect on the society at that time.

This situation prompted the Kochi Maharaja to declare that in future to institute 'Smarthavicharam' against anybody a hefty amount has to be deposited in the treasury to discourage the possibility such public embarrassments in future. This is the only trial challenged in the then Madras High Court which gave a verdict the trial as void, but could not give relief to anybody under the order.

As mentioned earlier, Dhatri Kutty an extremely intelligent, courageous and beautiful girl had to marry an old man who cannot fulfill her desire for sex. Hence she must have planned the revenge against the society by selecting some of the famous persons of that time to partner in sex. She was virtually running a brothel with herself as the prostitute without anybody knowing her identity with the use of veils. She had the unstinting support of her maid servant cum companion cum thozhi, as per the custom of those days, a Nair girl.

She was able to satisfy all who came to her so that her professionalism as a prostitute went far and wide and anybody will be willing to come to her to get chance. During the Smartha Vicharam there was a gossip that even the King of the Cochin was involved and he was afraid that his name may be divulged by Thathri Kutty. Anyway she had to stop divulging the name of her illicit relations at the 65th man which itself had created commotion and turmoil in the society. When this got exposed the very foundation of the social set up of that time was shaken.

There was an upheaval for change in the marriage system and family definitions and set up not only in the Nampoodiri Community, but also in the lower communities. After the Smarthavicharam of the Tatrikutty the Namboodiris started organising to take up the common issues of the community. The main issue was the marriage system of their community. On the one hand the elder one marries as many as he can and on the other the younger members have no right to marry.

Many girls and ladies remain either unmarried or married without the married relations and in many cases widowhood due to death of the old husbands while they are still girls. In order to change the unequal system in the Nampoodiri community, some revolutionary men formed a council "Namboodiri Yogakshema Mahaasabha" (Namboodiri Community Welfare Organisation). In this forum they promoted the idea for abolition of the system of sambandham and a thorough change in the marriage regulations of Nampoodiri Community. This had the chain effect in the Nair Community also where there were organised revolt against the matriarchal system and to introduce patriarchal system among them.

Possible Reasons for the Revolt
There are several versions as to why Dhatri Kutty went in this type of actions which in the ordinary course no other girl/lady would have dared to try even in the modern times. Even to think such an act would be frightful or even it may not come to the mind of nay normal or even a slightly hyper active lady. Therefore there must have been a strong reason for her to such an extreme step in the period when the society was so cruel to the women with so much of restrictions, fetters and taboos etc. It is not known if she had expressed anything to anybody.

In the trials she had restricted herself to insisting on equal punishment for the involved males also and thereafter she had only given the details of the names, addresses and identification marks of the involved men. So whatever is mentioned here can only be guesses. The following are the possible reasons. It may be any or a combination two or more reasons.

The first possible reason is the system prevailing especially in her community. The girls are not given education, the husband will have many wives, and while the girls are very young the marriage is to an aged person and no freedom to move anywhere alone. In Dhatri's case all these circumstances applied and while she was extremely beautiful and bold; her husband was a vainglorious person. She might have felt to smash the shackles of the society so that the future generations get relief, even if it is at the cost of her life. It requires iron will to do what she had done especially with the punishments for adultery during the trial period.

Another reason told is that her husband was jealous of her beauty, intelligence and boldness. He wanted to insult her as the male members can do anything and get away with it normally. Once he brought a prostitute to the house and after spending time with her sent out. While spending her off he teased Dhatri that he enjoyed the time he spent with the prostitute and if Dhatri had guts she can be on e like her. As per this version Dhatri accepted the challenge and started the orgy and finally invited her husband without his knowing the identity of her. After his session with her, it was reported that he went to the pinnacle of sensual feeling and suggested to her that he enjoyed the session and would like her to be with him permanently. On this she lifted her veil and the man ran away screaming.

Another reason gossiped was that Dhatri was forcefully enjoyed by her young brother in law against her will.

One more gossip was that her own father abused her.

She being a beautiful lady it could have been a possibility that her brother-in-law or father tried to enjoy. But as against this, it is to be considered that she was a bold, intelligent and courageous girl/lady. Even assuming such a thing could have taken place, Dhatri would not have gone to the extent of hunting for famous person of the society to be trapped to show her revenge. There is no mention of her brother-in-law or father in the list of jarans submitted by her at the trial.

As per the opinions of all concerned, Dhatri was a bold, cunning and revengeful lady. Therefore, the gossip about the brother in law or father would not have been a reason as she was bold and intelligent and could have easily foiled their attempts if any. Therefore the only reason left is that of revenge against a cruel and cunning society which tried to keep the ladies as the tools for satisfying the males of the society especially in the Nampoodiri community.

Those who read the story will admit that even in this 21st century it will be very difficult for any lady to do what Dhatri Kutty did 150 years back without the communication facilities, where the ladies were under strict observation and checks of the society. Therefore it stands to reason that her action was a revenge or revolt against the society if we take into account that she was intelligent and bold. It is also possible that if her husband had challenged her to be like the prostitute she could have taken the challenge. Perhaps the husband's taunts and the suppression of the ladies of that time combined might have prompted Dhatri Kutty to plan and execute such a daring and shocking act.

Smarthans involved in Dhatri's case
The Smartha Vicharam was done with a committee of 4 persons with the famous Jathavedan Nampoodiri from the Perumannan village as the Smarthan (knowing the Vedas and competent to conduct the trial of chastity as per the Nampoodiri Community rules). Another one was the eldest Nampoodiri from Desamangalam Mana.

The Mana was the biggest landlord around 4 – 5 villages including the Arangotukara and have the right to try guilty persons of these 5 villages and punish under the order of the Cochin Raja at that time. The other two are not known to me. Most probably one member might have been from either the Naareri Mana or Pumulli Mana 2 prominent landlord of the area where Kalpakasseri Mana was situated. And the last might have been the land lord of the area under which the Mana of Dhatri's husband situates.

Dhatri's Isolation House
Dhatri antharjanam (Tatri – Savithri) was caught on adultery and was taken and accommodated in an isolation house known as Pacha olappura (house with green palm leaves) – Achanpura on river bank at Chalakkudi. Such houses specially designated for such purposes were under guard so that the inmates do not escape or have contact with outside world. It used to be like a remand home or virtual jail till the inmate is declared as innocent, which is very rare or till punishment is awarded. Dhatri was also not allowed to have contact with anybody.

The trial – Smarthavicharam took about 7 months to complete. It is also said that there were persons waiting outside the Smarthavicharam place for Dhatri to come out and take her with them if she was willing. She did not agree and fought with them who tried to use force or coercion with her. Her loyal maid servant also was with her to support her. Nothing much is known about the maid servant except her help to Dhatri in the background.

The Last Smarthavicharam
The next one and the last of the Smarthavicharam happened in 1918. This case was that of another Savithri Antharjanam (Tatri) of Pazhur Paduthol Illam. There were 12 persons involved. The Smarthan was the same Jatavedan Nambuthiri. This Savithri married a Muslim after her Brashtu punishment. She had a daughter from the Muslim and thata daughter married a Chakiar.

Madras High Court Order on Smarthavicharam trial
The high court ordered that the Brashtu of the men who had intercourse with Dhatri as illegal as these men were not properly charge sheeted and not given proper chance to cross examine the lady, or given chance to argue their defence. In Jatavedan's report he has mentioned that it is not customary to record the details and minutes of the trial normally. However, he had written down briefly the matters of the men involved also were given chance to say what is their case against the allegations of Dhatri against them.

A brief description of Smarthavicharam
This procedure is followed in case of Nampoodiri ladies caught for adultery. Wherever the chastity is doubted, the lady in question was given to the custody of the society, for inquiry. The suspected person is sent to an isolation home known as the 'Achan pura or Pacha olappura' where she will be confined without allowing any outside contact. She will; be provided the basic necessities. First the maid servant will be questioned.

 All Nampoodiri ladies used to have a maid servant cum companion cum thozhi who will be most of the time with the lady. The questioning of the maid is known as the 'daasi Vicharam'. Then a formal request is made with a nominal deposit to the king who will agree if he feels it has to be conducted. Along with the approval the maharaja appoints the Smarthan (Vedic arbitrator) and his assistants. There will be some observers called 'Akakkoyamma' and 'Purakkoyamma'.

The enquiry is routine and may continue for days, weeks or months depending on the complications. During the entire period of the Smarthavicharam all those connected with the Smarthvicharam are to be accommodated and fed and their other basic necessities are to be met by the girls' father. At the end of the trial the verdict is arrived at. Invariably it will be finding the girl guilty and the punishment of 'Brashtu' –excommunication – casting out of society is declared.

Till then she is considered as an inanimate subject and is known as the 'Sadhanam' or object. After this she is as good as dead for the family and community and the other communities depended on the Nampoodiris and the last rites are done to her. She is thrown out into the street.

The stages of the procedures are
(1) the daasi Vicharam – questioning the made and a report is taken from her about the suspected antharjanam's illicit sexual conducts;

(2) if there was prima facie conclusion of infidelity, the system of isolation or transferring to Achan pura or Pacha olappura is done of the accused;

(3) intimation and request to the king concerned about the incident and proposed Smarthavicharam;

(4) the king sends the Smarthan and 4 assistants for the Smarthavicharam;

(5) These king's representatives frames the questions to be asked in consultation with the king;

(6) the questioning of the accused – the questioning and answering is done while the lady will be in the isolation place and the Smartha and others outside without each other seeing;

(7) The accused women are subject to severe torture during this period – there were several inhuman methods followed. One such method is to keep the woman in a palm leaf mat like the packing of a dead body and roll the mat with her inside the fold and roll it down from the tiled slanting roof top. Other women will be given opportunity to torture the woman according to their fancy and capacity. Sometimes snakes and rats will be let loose in the isolation place where the lady is kept;

(8) generally she is labelled as a nymphomaniac or a cursed demon who has ruined the lives of successful men. She is depicted as horrible demonic creature. But for the suffering antharjanam's she might be a heroine fighting for their cause, though they canno9t even express it to anyone.

Remains of the Tharawad (ancestral House)
At the time of my childhood the concerned house structure or remains were not seen, except for the remains of a pambumkavu (a raised platform with with all round walls of about 3 feet height and with a gap for entry to light lamps).

There were some granite stone installations of some deities supposed to be of Brahmarakshassu (may be the spirit of dead Brahmins), mookkan chathan (may be some snake god) and a few others. There were two wells (one for kitchen and the other for outside use) and two ponds (one for the bath of the antharjanams (Nampoodiri women) which were filled with mud and other dirt falling into them during rainy seasons. The whole land may be to the extent of 4 -5 acres.

There was a peepal tree near the back end of the land. The land is about 2feet in height and is in Ezhumangad portion was facing the main temple in Arangotukara portion, Sree Karthyayani Devi temple. The incident is the history created by the acts of a girl of extraordinary beauty, intelligence, courage and perhaps perversion or calculated revenge against the community, social system and society in general of her time which was fully loaded against women folks especially of the forward Namboodiri community during those days of virtual non communication facility, orthodox system of society and no easy transport facilities etc. Excommunication or ostracism ("Brashtu")

The Society at that Time
For majority of the population who are young may find it difficult to understand some of the issues unless the social set up of that time is understood. Hence a brief idea is given here. It was a period of feudalism at its peak but on the verge of degeneration. In Kerala the system followed was strange. The caste system was very strong.

The Brahmins had predominance and preferences in everything over others. The Kerala Brahmins were wealthy land lords and had several rights over other communities and castes. In fact they had the right to punish others. The society set up depended mostly on the set up of the Namboodiri community and all other communities set up was to suit their interests.

The Namboodiris of that time did not want their hold on the society to get diluted by having to divide the land of the family between the sons. Hence they devised the system in their community that only the eldest son can marry to have children of the family and there again only the eldest son gets married and hence the land of the family will be in the hands of the eldest son, i e only in one person. This threw up problems in their community as the other sons in the family cannot marry. They cannot control the sexual urge and had to do something to satisfy that urge. .

They introduced the system of sammandham for the younger male members. Under this system the property need not be shared with their children from the sambandham. Another problem was that since only one man from a family can marry, marrying only one girl / lady will make other Nampoodiri ladies spinsters/unmarried. The ladies too have the sexual urge as a natural biological process and might do something to satisfy their sexual urge. But the Nampoodiris wanted their ladies and girls to be chaste.

Under such pressure situations the powerful Namboodiris devised a system to meet the situation. To solve the Nampoodiri ladies problem, they introduced the system that the eldest male member can marry any number of Nampoodiri girls and ladies. This again had its problem. When more than one wife is there, there will be family quarrels in spite of the tight control of males over the ladies, and the man may not be able to satisfy the sexual necessities of all his wives.

This is further complicated when he marries in the old age to a young girl / lady. There were several instances where immediately on marriage the old husband dies and the young girl / lady will live as a widow with lot of restrictions and torture for balance of her life which may be a very long one. On the other side there may be also many ladies not getting a chance to marry and have to spend their entire life as spinsters.

So there were simmering discontent among the unsatisfied ladies and some of them clandestinely try to have illicit relation which when caught, will out cast them from society. They will be thrown out of the house on the road. There were asylums for such outcast ladies. Some may be lucky to get there. Some may marry lower cast men and live with them. Some will get exploited by men and some will be wandering as beggars for food. In the normal circumstance itself there were lot of restrictions on the antharjanams, akathulla aale or aathole (those are the words by which Nampoodiri ladies are known) in those days. They cannot go anywhere except to nearby temples or to their close relatives and are mostly confined to the homes.

Even to these places they were not allowed to go alone. There will always be a maid servant, a Nair lady who will be constantly with her. The Nampoodiris were using this as status symbol and the lady may feel elated. But in fact this is also a spying method by the men against the ladies activities. Then whenever the ladies go out they have to keep an umbrella in such a way that the lady's face and upper body cannot be seen by others, a predecessor or variation of the purda (veil) system of the Muslim ladies. The ladies cannot see anybody and anybody cannot see the ladies.

There will be a Nair maid with the lady who will walk in front and other Nair ladies will be on sides and back of the lady. The lady can see the foot of the Nair lady in the front and she just follows the feet. In fact everything possible was done to keep them chaste. The only activities they had were taking bath, chanting hymns or slokas, cooking food and sleeping.

In order to avoid the division of property to the family with the sammandham children, they again devised a clever system of maternal linearity for the lower caste families with whom their younger male members will have sammandham, mostly of the Nair community. Under this system the males having sambandham and children need not give anything to the lady or children except one two pairs of dresses during the Onam, Vishu and Thiruvatahira.

Since the Namboodiris wanted their younger male members to have facility of sammandham, they extended this concept to the Nair community also. So the Nair girls used to have only sammandham arrangements either from persons of their own community or from Brahmins. If any Brahmin is interested to have sammandham with a particular girl or lady the Brahmin will get preference over the Nair. So even if there is a sammandham arrangement for a girl or lady with her own community, he has to stop the sammandham to accommodate the sambandham arrangement of the Brahmin.