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REUNIONS & DRAMAS

Grihini Reunions

A Reunion of Grihini graduates

A Reunion of Grihini graduates

Twice each year, all the women who have graduated from the Grihini program are invited return for two days of reflection, planning and celebration. Why? Because empowerment and building alliances is a core aim of the program. Grihini return to strengthen their ties, support each other and plan strategies and to continue their education.

The Grihini program helped these women gain an awareness that they did not deserved to be dehumanised by their families and communities or by men; or treated as untouchable by caste people; or be forever trapped in poverty. Returning to their village, however, where the rest of the community still believes otherwise, means that these women face an ever-present struggle. Many have been forced to marry, to work on as coolies and to face caste abuse. Under such circumstances, their new Grihini-found confidence is easily shaken.

Reunions provide an opportunity to refresh their new awareness, reaffirm the principles they learned at Grihini and discuss with other women their common struggles to improve conditions in their villages. Just as important, perhaps, is a chance to bond again with their Grihini friends and to celebrate life with them in dance, drama and games. These reunions serve to maintain the Grihini identity of these village women and to continue their education.

Kurunji – ‘Real life dramas’

One of the things I remember best about Grihini was the drama. Back in the mountain villages we had to go to the fields very early to dig carrots or carry heavy loads. Life as a teenager was all work. We were not allowed to meet or express ideas at meetings. We just followed orders.

Then I came to Grihini and discovered I had ideas. In the drama we were invited to use our own ideas to create a scene from life in our villages and act it out for the group. We portrayed life just as it was—in the raw.

The amazing thing is that as we did so, we began to realise our condition—abuse, oppression, control. We were treated as animals, donkeys, beasts of burden. Bit by bit, our dramas reflected our new awareness; a growing anger at the lot we had thought was our only lot in life. In the dramas we came alive and began to blossom…like a mauve Kurunji flower. A Kurunji flower blooms every 12 years.

After my time at Grihini, a group of us formed a Grihini drama group called Kurunji. We went from village to village, presenting our dramas about the conditions of life in the village. That was our way of tyring to stir change in village life that had been taken as the will of the gods for centuries.

A drama in which the guru at the centre is bombarded with arrows or sharp questions

A drama in which the guru at the centre is bombarded with arrows or sharp questions.

The theatre group continued well for several years until some parents withdrew their support because they no longer want their daughters to continue performing in public. It is always possible that another Grihini group will instigate a theatre troupe for community education. This is the way of the Grihini Program.

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