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Odissi dance drama for women's rights

india Updated: Jan 17, 2007 19:32 IST
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In a unique presentation of relating mythological characters with the modern times, the noted Odissi danseuse Sanchita Bhattacharya has come up with a composition titled The Draupadi Phenomenon based on Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2006.

Sanchita, who is well-known for choreographing several artistic presentations on socio-economic themes, feels that through her latest choreographed item, she has raised the controversial issue in her opera where Mahabharata's Draupadi, the Queen of Pandavas, narrates her trials in dance.

The Odissi dance composition represents the voice of today's Eves, urging everyone to let women live their lives by their choices and dignity.

The dance drama relates how the landmark Government Bill to protect women from domestic violence not only warns everyone of physical violence against women but also highlights the rights of women and the way they are frequently violated.

Sanchita feels the problems of women should be discussed at all levels.

 
This painting by Raja Ravi Varma depicts Draupadi at the court of Virata

"The Draupadi Phenomenon is something close to my heart. The 3,000-year-old Odissi dance and the 5,000-year-old Draupadi character from Mahabharata have culminated to tell the story to remind everyone that it's high time women got their rights to live by their own choices. Women should be allowed to live their lives on their own terms. Stop deciding for them," said Sanchita.

The character of Draupadi in Mahabharata is that of one of the most wilful woman in literary history who, ironically, was never allowed to live her own life according to her choice.

In the latest dance-drama, Sanchita has tried to raise a major issue through Draupadi's character as a story-teller, in which she asks the audience: "Why was she shared with other men? Was this a will of her beloved husband Arjuna?"

Through this Odissi presentation Draupadi says that she actually loved only Arjuna with her mind, body and soul. But she had to pay the price of Arjuna's greatness throughout her life. She had to bear children from his brothers -Yudhishtir, Bhim, Nakul and Sahadeva - whom she never desired or loved.

The dancing Draupadi narrates that although it has always been said that the great war of Mahabharata was fought for her dignity and finally won by the Pandavas, it could not wipe out the shame and humiliation that she had suffered.

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