ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Caught in a Time Warp

Beneath the beautiful architecture in Rajasthan’s Mewar region lurk regressive social and historical forces propelling the protests against the film Padmavati.

After landing in Udaipur in November, my three friends and I drove straight to the house of a Maharaj in the village of Aala Khedi in Chittorgarh district. Before you get impressed, let me hasten to amend that: it was a maharaj, in lower case, the term Indians use for a male cook attached to a family. This maharaj works at my friend’s place in Mumbai, and had insisted that she visit his family for lunch on her trip to Rajasthan. The detour had not been part of our initial itinerary, but it gave us an authentic taste, both literal and figurative, of the state where we were to spend the next week.

Right at the start, we got a lesson in sociology. We met Varsha, his 23-year-old niece, among other family members. She told us that she was married at 19, widowed soon afterwards and left childless. She had a whole life ahead of her but it was an empty vista. Four of us, all privileged, urban, independent women, plied her with questions. Why don’t you study further? Have you thought about working? Why don’t you remarry? She answered us haltingly with a look of resigned acceptance. “Our community will think my father is incapable of supporting his bereft daughter,” she said, smiling wanly. “He will feel ashamed.”

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Updated On : 4th Dec, 2017
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