Ben­gali Women Silent mo­ti­va­tors to par­al­lel achiev­ers and em­pow­er­ment

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SUNBIZ -

T Ode­fine the role of Ben­gali women, we should first ex­plore two con­cepts: Shakti and An­chal. Shakti is the con­cept or per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of di­vine fem­i­nine cre­ative power, some­times re­ferred to as 'The Great Di­vine Mother' in Hin­duism. • As the Di­vine Mother, she is

known as Adishakti. • On the earthly plane, Shakti most ac­tively man­i­fests through fe­male em­bod­i­ment and cre­ativ­ity/fer­til­ity.

In Ben­gal and across cross most of Eastern In­dia, women are re­spect­edespected and recog­nised ecog­nised as the em­bod­i­ment mbod­i­ment of Shakti. hakti. She em­pow­ers mpow­ers and com­pletes om­pletes her hus­band's des­tiny in n this life. Be­sides be­ing eing the cus­to­dian, pro­tag­o­nistro­tag­o­nist and cat­a­lystat­a­lyst of the house­hold. She also bears and nd rears/raises the chil­dren who will con­tinue the lin­­eage.

The end por­tion of thehe sari slung over the shoul­der houl­der is called the An­chal. It is not just a part art of her cloth­ing. In n ef­fect, the an­chal iss a con­cept which de­fines her au­thor­ity uthor­ity as cus­to­dian us­to­dian and pro­tag­o­nistro­tag­o­nist of the house­hold.

The An­chal is: • where she ties the bunch of keys: of the house, the almi­rahs, the safe where money and jew­els are stored, the en­trance/main door and the puja-room; • where her chil­dren come and cry or hide their face seek­ing re­lief and se­cu­rity; • what she pulls over her head as a ghomta (hood) to show re­spect when stand­ing in front of el­ders; and •what she uses to wipe the sweat of her hus­band's br brow when he re­turns from till­ing the fields or other work.

Novelist Sarat C Chandra Chat­ter­jee (au­tho (au­thor of nov­els like Pari­neeta, Grih Gri­hadaha and Dev­das) por por­trayed Ben­gali women as strong, mo­ti­vate mo­ti­vated char­ac­ters, with pleas­ingpl deme de­meanor on the out­side­outs but pos­sess­ing­pos steel-likeste in­ner con­fi­denceco and un­ri­valle­dun men­tal strength­stre to weather all stormssto and pro­tect the fam­ily fam­ily. The firstfi gen­er­a­tion of Beng Ben­gali women who acc ac­com­pa­nied their hus­bands from Bri­tish In­dia to Malaysia largely em­u­lated Sarat Chandra's fe­male char­ac­ters. a) Be­sides hold­ing the house keys they func­tioned as the silent pro­tag­o­nists who helped cre­ate the foun­da­tion plus ini­tial devel­op­ment of a co­he­sive com­mu­nity; b) Car­ing for their chil­dren, hus­band, fam­i­lies in a new land, adapt­ing and ad­just­ing over time; c) Nur­tur­ing and de­vel­op­ing close re­la­tion­ships as they wel­comed and helped new ar­rivals, in­duct­ing them to life in Malaysia. They fa­cil­i­tated the build­ing of the early Ben­gali com­mu­nity in Malaysia; in­ter alia ... d) Pro­vid­ing hos­pi­tal­ity dur­ing term time to chil­dren whose fam­i­lies lived in ru­ral ar­eas and had lit­tle ac­cess to ur­ban schools. e) En­cour­ag­ing cul­tural bonds and iden­tity build­ing through lan­guage, songs and dances; f) Ben­gali women in Malaysia con­tin­ued to trans­mit and sus­tain cul­tural tra­di­tions and the tra­di­tional so­ci­etal mores

(sama­jik riti-niti). g) Stay-at-home women, dur­ing this early pe­riod con­nected with neigh­bours, build­ing bridges and pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships with other eth­nic groups. h) Such ini­tia­tives ac­cel­er­ated their fam­i­lies' con­nec­tiv­ity and em­pa­thy with other lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. This also ac­cel­er­ated the in­te­gra­tion process of Ben­gali fam­i­lies, in­clud­ing their affin­ity and ac­cep­tance of a Malaysian iden­tity. i) But in their hearts their pri­mary

al­le­giance re­mained with In­dia. j) Back in the sub-con­ti­nent, dur­ing the 20s to mid 40s, un­di­vided Ben­gal and Pun­jab states gen­er­ated max­i­mum re­cruit­ment for rev­o­lu­tion­ary groups seek­ing free­dom from Bri­tish rule. k) Most Ben­gali women (with­out any hes­i­ta­tion) gladly of­fered their most pre­cious pos­ses­sions, their sons and daugh­ters, to the cause of their moth­er­land when Ne­taji Sub­has Chandra Bose de­manded "..Give me blood and I will give you free­dom".

To form the In­dian Na­tional Army (INA) with Ja­panese sup­port, Sub­has Chandra Bose, con­vinced In­dian (Bri­tish Army) sol­diers in POW camps to com­mit to the cause of fight­ing for In­dian in­de­pen­dence.

His stir­ring, mo­ti­vat­ing speeches also gen­er­ated ex­ten­sive sup­port from the Ben­gali, Sikh, Sindhi, Tamil, Ra­jput and other In­dian eth­nic pop­u­la­tion re­sid­ing in Malaya, Sin­ga­pore and Burma. • Ben­gali and Sikh Pun­jabi women par­tic­u­larly lever­aged their wider con­nec­tiv­ity to gen­er­ate more em­phatic re­sponse from other sub-con­ti­nen­tal eth­nic groups. • They never "lost sight of the al­le­giance due to their na­tive" home­land, "ever re­mem­ber­ing that na­ture had im­planted in their breast, a sa­cred and in­dis­sol­u­ble at­tach­ment to­wards that coun­try whence they de­rived their birth and in­fant nur­ture". a) Lo­cally born Ben­gali women now got mar­ried and be­came moth­ers;


Dr Esha Sinha Roy (nee Das­gupta) rheuma­tol­o­gist anand IMU pro­fes­sor.

Ne­taji Sub­has Chandra Bose.

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