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India: One Day Women Can Play and Dance

By Juliana Rincón Parra

India Unheard shows us two different festivities in different areas of the country where married women from tribal communities can, for one day only, play and dance in public without risking censure.

Indial Classical Dance in Kerala by Steve Cox, CC By

In Tribal Festival Celebrates Femininity, Devidas Gaonkar explains how due to the patriarchal structure that still persists in many tribal communities, there are very few occasions where women are allowed to get away from their chores and duties in the home, and this festival is a chance for them to gather together and have fun. He grew up observing his mother and sister enjoying themselves this day and understood the importance of giving women the chance to enjoy festivities in the same manner men are allowed to do so.

The following video by Devidas Gaonkar shows the Dhillo festivities, which take place on the day before Diwali, in Cotigao, Goa:

‘Dhillo’ is the name of the icon made of clay or cow dung that the women make to symbolise their deity; it is placed on the village ‘maand’ (platform or space kept for performances or festivals) where the women proceed to perform folk dances, which are known as ‘khel’ (game).

Another India Unheard Video Volunteer, this one in the Maharashtra region, talks about a similar day when women in her village can dance and have fun:

In rural Mahasrashtra where Rohini, the correspondent of this video lives, women are treated as inferior to men. So while men are free to do whatever they want, women's moves are restricted and they must take need special permission from family members to even move out of their homes. They are especially forbidden to sing, dance or play in public view. Those who do so, are looked down upon as women of loose morality. However, once in a year — on the day of Nagpanchami this bar is lifted and women are expected to dance and play games.

India Unheard is a community news service launched by Video Volunteers; an organization which trains community members into becoming correspondents who tell the unique stories about their minority or marginalized communities through video, SMS reporting and other social media tools.

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