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President hosts concert for women

Be it for International Women’s day or the Women’s Reservation Bill, women are occupying a significant mindspace of late. In keeping with the hum, Rashtrapati Bhawan held a concert dedicated to women empowerment on Saturday, reports Malvika Nanda.

delhi Updated: Mar 07, 2010 00:36 IST
Malvika Nanda

Be it for International Women’s day or the Women’s Reservation Bill, women are occupying a significant mindspace of late. In keeping with the hum, Rashtrapati Bhawan held a concert dedicated to women empowerment on Saturday.

The evening saw performances by sufi singer Zila Khan and pandavani exponent Teejan Bai.

Zila Khan who has been vocal about her passion towards the girl child cause opened the evening with a song by Hazrat Rabia Basri. Called Chalne lagi zameen, the song featured on Khan’s last album titled Zila the Girl Child.

Talking about empowerment, Khan said, “While talks are on about the 30% reservation for women, I’m glad equality exists for us at least in the urban areas.” Instead of the regular sufi fare, Khan performed one that spoke of ma bhavani and another based on shlokas. “Sufi is not restricted to singing about allah maula, it’s about zikr of the almighty,” said Khan, whose performance was full of her trademark energetic hand movements and ecstatic gestures.

Up next was the modest lady from Chhattisgarh, Teejan Bai, who has kept the traditional art of story telling alive. The 50-plus singer brings to life several chapters of the Mahabharata, in particular stories of the pandavas (called pandavani). Today she chose to narrate the chapter of Draupadi’s cheer haran.

Linking the chapter to International Women’s Day and women’s empowerment, the folk artist highlighted the role of Krishna as a saviour of women.

Dressed in a simple red saree, with her hair tied in a plait, she emoted different characters from the epic with candour and convincing beauty.

Interestingly, Teejan Bai got her break when she performed for former prime minister Indira Gandhi in the late eighties.

President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil and minister of state for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath were present at the do.