Bama’s Sangati analyses Dalits women’s oppression by double patriarchies –the covert patriarchal stance subsumed within the gender relations of their own. Sangati is a startling insight into the lives of Dalit women who face the double disadvantage of caste and gender discrimination. Written in a. Dalit Women Identity in Bama’s Sangati. Ranjana Singh. Research Scholar,. Department of English and Modern European Language,. Lucknow University.
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Sangat walked the first major step of success and popularity with her work Karukku. She witnessed all the hardships of her own paraiyar women community. Her second work Sangati is an ambience of sangari women particularly paraiyars community, it draws a real picture of this community. Sangati means news, events, happenings, and the book is one of the interconnected anecdotes. Bama makes clear her intention in her acknowledgement: My mind is crowded with many anecdotes: I wanted to shout out these stories Sangati xvi.
Discussing the social evils of this community this book also throws light on the tyranny, exploitation, injustice, the cruelty, the trauma and disparity taking place in the paraiyars community.
In Sangati Bama is successful to draw a real picture of growth, decline, culture and liveliness of dalit women. She also lays emphasis on the fact that the women of paraiyar community lead a happy life in time of trouble and depression. All kinds of difficulties of dalit women their boldness and weakness are described by Bama in her Sangati. This paper also presents a summary of gender equality and caste and gender oppression described by Bama in her Sangati with the special reference to the paraiyar community in India.
In Sangati Bama describes the women character of paraiyar community. Their lives stories have been described by her in a full-fledged way. Here the narrator is a little girl Bama herself. She says that in her family there is no great difference between the boys and the girls at the time of their birth but as they grow up, family members take more concern for boys than girls.
She talks about that her family members believe in the fact that it is a lucky thing for a girl to belong to the odd number and for a boy to belong to the even number. She says that her grandmother was an expert in the work of confinement and she never took anything for this work, though she was never called by upper caste as she belonged to a paraichi community or to lower caste. She says that her grandmother was very beautiful and she never fell ill but she never bore ornaments because her husband had gone.
Girls are not allowed to play boys game if they do so then the people abuse them: It is not so with the girl. And when we played husband and wives they were the ones in authority; they took the role of policeman and ship-owners Men are free they have no sense of any responsibility. But the women of this community have to do great labour or toil in the field as well as at home. The women of this community are self-dependent. Because all women earn their wages, they work in the field, in the match factory though they did not get equal wages like men.
They are paid lower wages than men for the same work. Bama describes the ceremony of coming age it means that a girl is able to do marriage. After coming age for a girl it is necessary to marry because people believe that it is the best way to protect a girl from bad persons. Sometimes women of this community lead a very hard life in a very pitiable condition. Everything about women is expressed in this novel in a colloquial language.
When a girl comes of age there is a celebration for sixteen days. And the girl has to put an iron rod with herself to escape evil spirits.
The mother of that girl goes to door to door to inform everybody about that her daughter came to age; Meanwhile, Paatti and Amma chatted with each other. Have you noticed the bloom on her face? As soon as she gets her periods, bma stop her from studying, hand her over to some fellow or the other, and be at peace 9. Girls do not have the right of education like boys.
They have to suffer not only at the work field but also at sanggati mentally and physically. And when they revolt it causes of violence or their death. When Bama asks her Pattii about the violence she says in angrily: You ask me why?
Because the man was crazy with lust. Because he wanted her every single day. How could she agree to his frenzy after she worked all hours of the day and night, inside the house and out?
He is an animal, that fellow. When she refused, he practically broke her in half Women do not speak among the men and they dare not to speak about right or baam.
They cannot eat before their husband: There is no justice for them. In the case of Sangatj, she has not only humiliated but fined also. She tries to tell the truth but nobody believes her. They have to bear their insult without making complaint. They dare not to complaint.
Even last week, when my granddaughter Paralokam went to pull up grass for the cow, the owner of the field said he would help her lift the bundle on to her head. That was his excuse for squeezing her breasts, the barbarian. He is supposed to be an educated fellow. The poor child came and told me and wept. But say we dared to tell anyone else about it It is common in men of paraiyar community that they do not sangafi the courage to revolt against upper caste people.
She describes that women do not have a gama moment of rest for themselves.
Sangati – Bama – Oxford University Press
Always they have to lead such a life in which they work without taking rest. So the writer asks to her Paatti; Why we be the same as boys? We always have to walk with our heads bowed down, gazing at our toes.
You tell us all this rubbish and keep us under your control. We are allowed to eat only after the men in the family have finished and gone. Through the characters of Mariamma and Thaayi she presents the theme of universal gender issues, unhappy married life, humiliation and oppression. Their husbands also humiliate them by beating them mercilessly and cutting their hair.
But they never revolt against it. She says that sometimes in her community, women are free to select a life partner or to do remarry: Some women marry a second time after the death of a husband. That is quite normal among us. On the other hand, among the other communities of our village, you can see straight away, the indignities suffered by widows. In our street though, everyone is held the same: Women in other community have no choice to do love marriage and if someone tries to do so it may have a terrible or inhuman consequence.
As Bama described the story of a girl who has seven brothers and they killed her mercilessly: There are hardly any sign of human beings there. Only wild animals like elephants and lions and tigers. There they dragged her out of the cart and without even caring that she was a full term pregnant woman, with one sweep of a sword they separated her head from her body. They sliced open her stomach, took out the baby, twisted its neck, and killed it.
How can she manage everything with just her wages? She gives the example of Maikkanni, a little girl whose father comes at home when he wants he never cares for his family.
When her mother goes to work in the field, the poor girl has to do all the works like; From the time she woke up, she sprinkled the front yard with water and swept it, and then carried on with all the house work: She did it all, one after other. She has moved from the window seat by the boys as she is a girl.
She has beaten by her father because she spent one rupee on ice from her wages. But still she leads her life happily. Here Bama suggests; We must be strong. We must show by our own resolute lives that we believe ardently in our independence. I told myself that we must never allow our minds to be born out, damaged, and broken in the belief that this is our fate.
Just as we work hard so long as there is strength in our bodies, so, too, must be strengthen our hearts and minds in order to survive. She describes all aspects of paraiyar women from their birth to their death.
Having so many troubles they lead their life happily. Bama says that Dalit women are not only oppressed by their men but by upper castes also. Bama here makes a comparison between upper caste women and the women of her community. She says that sanhati her community women are not depending on their husbands like other castes women fully depend on their husband.
Bama’s Sangati: A Study of Dalit Women’s Hardship by Durga Patva
Paraiyar women are economically self-dependent because they earn their own money by doing work in the field. These women have some freedom, which upper caste women do not have.
Bama describes the story of Raakkamma whose husband beats her badly and she replies in the same manner by using obscene language: Paakkiaraj was abusing her in a vile and vulgar way, and was just about to hit her.