Traditional Indian art form Sanjhi helps create gender sensitivity.
A mother of 3, Sunita Kasera is a Hindu woman who goes to temple regularly and celebrates many festivals. She says that almost in every festival, women like her perform many rituals such as cleansing and fasting. These are rituals observed for the well being of their husbands, children and other relatives.Though they are rituals, women are expected to perform them more as their duties and there is no way one can escape them. If they do, they will be looked down upon as unloving and uncaring.
This is the reason why Sunita was very surprised to learn of Sanjhi – a ritual that is observed by married men for a healthy life of their wives. In this ritual men go to a Krishna temple and paint on water, using powdered colors. Prior to painting, men must observe fast. She found it very interesting that in a state where women are always expected to sacrifice and renounce, men are fasting, even if for a day. But when she asked around, she found that not every man from her community practiced this and that they weren’t aware of this ritual. She then decided to do a video on this because, for her the ritual is a symbolic equalizer.
Sunita says, “A festival is a fun event. But, we the women are always expected to do something. We are expected to constantly show others that we love them, respect them and wish them well. Once in a while it is great to know that we too are loved and cared for. So, it feels great when my husband performs Sanjhi.”
Though Sanjhi is practiced in several states in India, Sunita says that it is only in her community that men perform it, instead of women and so she feels that this is a great practice that can help men understand how a woman feels when she fasts and observes rituals for her loved ones.