Jesuit NGO gives birth to a women’s movement


By Irudaya Jothi SJ

Kolkata, October 26, 2018: A Jesuit NGO has given birth to a women’s movement in Kolkata.

“I am extremely happy and confident to run this movement and ready to take over the responsibility of running a NGO,” Basanti Saren, secretary of “Nari Mukti Chetna Sangatan.”

“Nari Mukti Chetna Sangatan” is a daughter movement of Udayani (awakening) Social Action Forum, which is the social outreach arm of the Calcutta province of the Society of Jesus. It was officially launched her birth with a Santal dance competition cum mela in Kalna II of Burdwan, West Bengal.

Udayani has been working with women Self Help Groups (SHGs) among for the last two decades and these SHGs have been organised into federations.

The time has come for the Jesuits to snap the umbilical cord and encourage the women to take over as an independent movement.

The formation towards a separate NGO has been going on for a couple of years so that the Jesuits keeping with their traditions hand over this movement to the women themselves and move ahead towards a new frontier.

The five block level SHG federations have been encouraged to register as NGOs and these NGOs are now expected to manage the 500 odd SHGs formed and trained by Udayani in leadership through Rights Based approaches.

While the official registration process is on with the Government of West Bengal, Udayani decided to move ahead in delegating the responsibilities to the women already. The cultural competition is one among many in that direction.

These block level ‘Sangatans’ participate in the State level “Right To Food” movement meetings as an equal partner to Udayani.

Today’s competition was inaugurated by Doli Murmu the Vice-President of the Gram Panchayat and a SHG member. It doubled the joy of the participants as it has now an elected leader.

With the inauguration of the competition it is a dream come true.

Eighteen SHG teams participated in the competition with the minimum of 15 to maximum of 25 dancers with accompanying drummers.

The women danced Dong Enej which is danced in two rows with their arms interlinking in pairs. The rows surge forward like rhythmic waves and then recede with supple footwork and swaying heads and bodies.

There are certain rounds of dance, after which women sings songs and the men playing tamak and tumdak also sings the song with context to song sung by women.

Baha Enej: This dance comprises the men and women. The dance starts with the calling the ‘Nayake’ (priest) from his house to the Jaherthan.

Langde Enej: This is performed in occasion of joy and any festival. Langde has many form and variation according to the occasion. Like in Sohray festival ‘Langde’ is also danced.

Karam Enej: Karam enej is danced in karam festival, where karam tree is being worshipped to protect village from disasters, bad evils and so that peace could rest in village.

“It is revealing for me on how they preserved their identity and surprised to see their creativity,” said a Jesuit priest Anburaj, assistant director of Udayani.

The so-called ordinary village housewives taking such a big responsibility and running a program confidently exhibits their leadership skills that Udayani has imparted to them, opined Alphonsa Kumari, one of the Udayani trainers.

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