Published: 24th January 2018
Jauhar Vs Padmaavat: Why well-educated Rajasthani girls joining the protest should worry us
The protest against the release of the movie "Padmaavat" is intensifying by the day. However, the participation of millennials is something that needs more attention. Here's why
Women dressed in red Poshaks are flooding the streets of Chittor — the place where Rani Padmavati committed Jauhar with 16,000 women. While that's a common sight, what caught everybody's attention was girls as young as 15 joining the protests against Padmavati (or Padmaavat). Look at it this way — A bunch of young, educated girls who have even studied history and have access to the internet have threatened to end their lives by jumping into a fire, if the movie releases in Rajasthan. Jayshree Rathore, who is still in school, told edexlive that it is right if someone wants to kill themselves as there should be no distortion with the history. "How can we tolerate distortion of the history of our ancestors. Jauhar will happen if the movie is released," she says.
To top that, these girls have shown immense enthusiasm and have even formed an independent youth group to protest the release of the movie. "The participation of the youth has stunned everyone. They have come out in large numbers to support the ban. They are well-read kids in college and schools. Even they want a ban because they know the history and have a lot of excitement and valour to stop the distortion," informs Madhu Ranawat, who is one of the women leading the Swabhimaan (self-respect) rallies in Chittor.
What is Jauhar?
Jauhar was the Hindu custom of mass self-immolation by women in parts of the Indian subcontinent, to avoid capture, enslavement, and rape by any foreign invaders when facing certain defeat during a war. This practice was historically observed in northwest regions of India, with the most famous Jauhars in recorded history occurring during wars between Hindu Rajput kingdoms in Rajasthan and the Muslim armies. Jauhar is related to sati, and sometimes referred in scholarly literature as jauhar sati.
Adding to this, ManjuShree Kanwar, who is a crucial member of the Jauhar Shatriyaani Manch, says with passion, "It is a matter of self-respect. India is a country that has always taken care of its self-respect. The women of this country are only left with their pride.They do not have security in this country. All they can do is save their pride. So, that is what we are doing." Kanwar also spoke about the enthusiasm of young girls who have vowed to participate in the Jauhar if the movie releases. "It is my responsibility to take care of these girls but it is very difficult to control them. They will not bow down. They will take extreme actions," she confirms.
Jauhar agni: Women pose near the "hawan kund" where they are supposed to pray before committing the Jauhar
The group is also not very happy with the government's lack of response to the issue. "When everybody is getting so bothered with this movie, why is Modiji not stopping this?" asks Ranawat. "There will be a lot of chaos. There will be massive protests. Leave aside Bhansali, even Modiji cannot imagine what we will do. He brought demonetisation in one night, this will be bigger. Nobody can imagine what Rajputs will do. Everybody is ready to lay their lives for honour, " Ranawat warns.
Despite being told over and over again that there are no intimate scenes in the movie between Rani Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji, they refuse to ease up, "Okay, tell me one thing — if somebody tries to show wrong facts about your Gods, will you tolerate it? Rani Padmavati is our mother goddess. She did not let Khilji even see her dead body, she burnt herself. We Rajputs have always been a part of history and we have made numerous sacrifices. Who is this Bhansali to make Rani Padmavati dance in front of people? To top that, he has also shown her as a love interest of Khilji," she fumes.
Bring it on: From children to elders, everyone seems to a part of the rallies
"If that is the case, why didn't he show the movie to the Rajputs before releasing it. We cannot trust him. Even if we forget that, what about the fact that he has shown Rani Padmavati dancing in front of people with an absurd dress that does not abide by the Rajput norms. Royal women of Rajasthan do not dance like that, not even today. Then, how can Bhansali show a queen dancing in front of people? I have only one message for Bhansali: Please think that you lost the money because you made a flop movie. Rajputs are ready to fight the war on 25th," she declares.
While the SC has rejected the plea of stay on Padmaavat's release on January 25, the complaints do not seem to end and the women do not want to consider any kind of reconciliation. "Historians who have visited the Jauhar Bhawan recently said that the story is a work of fiction. How can they say that? Tomorrow who will say that Maharana Pratap, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Prithviraj Chauhan were also fiction? You took our land, we did not say anything but we will not tolerate any kind of dishonour to our mother goddess. We don't mind becoming a history to defend her pride. Did Bhansali forget what Rajput women wear? Why did he not make Padmavati sit at the royal place? How can he make her dance?" Madhu added.
But where is this agitation when rapes in India happen? "We are planning to hold rallies for that too. We have plans to take care of our girls. We want our girls to go out at night and whoever threatens her will either go to court or we ourselves will take a decision. We have taken the step, we will not bow down," Madhu promises quickly.