Riddle of untold concerns

Wake-up call

Bringing the age-old social norms that are prevalent in the patriarchal society in India, Manzil Mystics and the Roleplay Productions came together to showcase ‘Inclusion Mela’, a festival to bring out a social change, on Friday, at the American Centre.

A compilation of drama and music, the Inclusion Mela bought the various issues of gender discrimination and stereotypes into the limelight, in an artistic and comical manner. Titled Paheliyan, the enactment spanned over duration of 40 minutes wherein the audience spent some moments of uncontrollable laughter and a numbing sense of chill at the same time.

Starting with a powerful Kathak dance performance by the senior dance group of Manzil Maystic, the theatrical enactment was followed by a riddle play which reminded the audience of the self-made social guidelines on the basis of gender.
It featured everything from the basic notions of a patriarchal society to the assumed behaviour which is expected of every girl in rural India (and some parts of urban India). How a child grows up being governed around issues of gender, which later become a part of his/her adult personality, is something that one
never realises.

Anish Singh, practitioner of the Rolepay Productions said, “Gender as a concern is very subtle in all parts of our country. Even today, a five-year-old knows what, ‘he as a boy’ or ‘she as a girl’ must do. From associating them with separate colours to the pre-conceived notions about their general behaviour, there exists separate guidelines for each gender, which are considered to be mandatory for all.”

Amongst other issues raised, one of the pahelis in Paheliyan spoke about how grandparents in India develop certain kind of biase for female grandchildren as opposed to the male ones. Through a regular conversation which generally takes place amongst the oldies in a park, the play showed how all their love and care is exceptionally reserved for their potas (grandsons).

“Manzil Mystics and I wanted to bring forth the innate tenderness and uniqueness of the two sexes, which have been killed by the notions of gender. From the general ideology of grandparents to the brother-sister relationship, the play shows the unbearable pressure that is imposed on girls by our society,” added Singh. Irrespective of the development that has taken place in the past few years,
the very mindset of people still remains unreasonable and orthodox.
Along with bringing a smile to the face of every single person present in the audience, the play also served as a wake-up call to all those who blindly follow these age old norms.

“Given the positive response received from the people, I now plan to take Inclusion Mela forward to schools and to the general public. While it is currently spanned over a day, I will now make the festival a three to four-day-event, so that the message reaches out to a wider scale of audience,” said Singh.

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