Diaspora : Organisation of Diaspora Initiatives
Women’s Wing Takes Off

A unique plan to create a Women’s Wing under the aegis of the Organisation of Diaspora Initiatives could lead to a better understanding of Indian traditions and empowerment of diaspora women

By Leela Gujadhur Sarup
The Organisation of Diaspora Initiatives (ODI) has announced a plan to start a Women’s Wing under its aegis. The idea was first mooted by D.N. Srivastava, joint secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. ODI president Dr Ajay Dubey and vice-president Leela Gujadhur Sarup have expressed their support for the same.

ODI aims to connect people around the world under its intellectual research on diaspora and centuries old traditions. It believes that the knowledge about these traditions needs to be shared with everyone. Since women are homemakers and keep the family together, they can instill ritualistic vigour, which breeds self-discipline.

The Women’s Wing would require participation of women who can contribute their knowledge in the fields of traditions in their respective countries. However, if they are not fully aware of the same, they can send in their queries.

A quarterly magazine will be launched in due course.

A few women members of ODI are putting their highly intellectual ideas on paper and they hope to present a concrete project to include the same as a topic in the fourth coming Pravasi Bhartiya Divas event.

The descendants of Indian emigrants have preserved their age-old traditions passed on from their ancestors in all the erstwhile colonies.

Every tradition has deep-rooted interpretations. According to ODI, if we put our brains together, we will be able to interpret our traditions and understand their meanings. In India great efforts are being made to re-establish traditions that have been lost over the centuries. Old manuscripts are being discovered and old religious rites are slowly being re-introduced.

For instance, from this year Durga Puja will see the start of centuries old traditions as per the out-of-print Sanskrit text Durga Pujatatva by Raghunandan. Old mantras will be introduced; old rituals will be reinstated by offerings of earth dug out of the soil, using an elephant tusk, pieces of the bark of the “Bokul” tree, clay from a prostitute’s door, water from the Saraswati river, dew collected from leaves, besides other items as in actual practice. For example, when Durga Puja is to be performed, one of the offerings to the Goddess is clay from a prostitute’s premises; this interpretation can be surmised that the ancient profession of prostitution is to be accepted as part of respectability.

The puja will have to be performed by nine priests. With these new efforts being put together, in 10 years time, celebrating Durga Puja will take on an entirely different dimension.

There are so many other rituals we observe and perform but we do not understand their importance. Women today are as busy as men, if not busier, as they have the additional responsibility of looking after home and family while pursuing a career as well. Time management is perhaps the most important factor in a woman’s life, besides, she needs to exercise, have a hobby, find time and space to also include a cultural participation, or else, she becomes a human robot.

The Women’s Wing will be able to provide information on religious and cultural activities. Scenes from Kalidas or Tagore’s plays will be encouraged to be staged in various countries, at home or among women members of the Women’s Wing.
If this unique initiative takes off, it will be a major initiative in terms of women’s empowerment in particular and Indian tradition in general.


January 2009

click here to enlarge

 >> Cover Story
 >> From the Editor
 >> Bollywood Masala
 >> NRI-PIO Section
 >> Mail From Reader