Bengali Women Silent motivators to parallel achievers and empowerment
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.ineage.
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.