Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Smoke Screen raises questions

Smoke Screen has an intersting post When a language (culture) tells its own story ... where she quotes from Girish Karard the reaction of Madras audience to a play of Arthur Miller:
"The audience watching the play in Madras was English educated, familiar with Western literature. Many of them frequently were abroad and had a living contact with the Western way of life. The production was a success. But most of the audience entirely missed the element of incest in the play; rather, they chose to ignore it as an unnecessary adjunct to an otherwise perfectly rational tale."
and raises the question "While one can concede the chasm between ‘Indian’ and ‘English’ cultures, is there a similar gap between the peoples of different linguistic groups in India? And, not to put too fine a point on it, is there, then, a cultural, perceptual, gap between speakers of different dialects of an Indian language? ", I think there are, even between different castes in the same region. I wonder whether different castes (or genders) have the same perception of Ramayana. There is a flippant story from a friend who got stuck in a forest and watched Ramlila performed by a tribal group. Rama, Sita, Ravana all got drunk. Rama, Ravana started fighting with Rama saying that Ravana should 'keep' Sita since she lived with him for long time and Ravana saying that Sita was Rama's wife and he should 'take' her back. I wonder whether such can happen in other main stream communities even if the actors got drunk, which is not unusual. In some regions of A,P. people say 'pellani teesuka vacchaanu' ( I brought my wife back) and in some others they say 'pellanni tolukocchanu'(I drove my wife back). There is some perceptual difference there though both seem to be using a term which implies 'property'.
See also Namit Arora' review Joothan: A Dalit's Life. An excerpt:
"Unlike in the dominant Hindu tradition—which Valmiki pointedly denigrates and wants no part of—widow remarriage was even in the 60s an accepted norm in his community. He describes in some detail how their gods were utterly different from Hindu gods and how different their religious rituals were."

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