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Paper 40

Dalit Women’s Cultural Assertion

Ms Megha Gautam Kshirsagar, Social Worker and Gender Trainer, Manas Foundation, New Delhi, India


Shahiri has a big anti-caste struggle in Maharashtra. It Started with Mahatma Phule To till now

there are many Shahir who take this anti-caste struggle and done significant work in Maharashtra. . Jotirao Phule radically used the traditional Tamasha art form as an assertion against Brahmanism. He used this cultural form as a weapon against caste and patriarchy and started the Satyashodhak Jalsas in 1873. He also wrote a Powada about Shivaji Maharaj. He knew that cultural reform is as important as social reform and this tradition founded by him was continued by the Ambedkarite movement.

Jalsa was created simply using folk music in the dialect of the common people. During this period, many Shahirs made sincere efforts to spread Dalit unity and social rights through their simple yet forceful dialects. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar once gave a speech on the same stage as Lokshahir Bhimrao Kardak, after his Shahiri Jalsa. In that speech, he said, “A single song from a shahir is worth ten of my speeches.” Shahir had a huge impact and used popular mediums of songs, poems, and street plays for making people aware of their enslavement.

Ambedkar Shahiri Jalsas started in 1927 when poets used a combination of Gan Gavlan to bring Ambedkarite thought to the fore. In history, we can see major literature is available about all the mail shahir how to do significant work in anti-caste cultural movements like Bhimrao kardak, Vaaman dada kardak, Aanabhau sathe, Gavankar, Shahir Amar Shaikh any many more.

In Maharashtra folk songs always remain a form of assertion for women, like the famous folk song ‘jatyavarchi Ovi‘, which women used to sing while grinding grain with stone.

In the caste hierarchical structure, Dalit women lie at the very end of even the ati shudra category. It means they do not have power. So the Dalit feminist standpoint provides us with an appropriate epistemological location to understand the issues of gender in the context of caste.

In cultural movement also especially in shahiri form, Dalit women are very less Gopal guru argue and critique to Patriarchy within Dalit community for suppression of Dalit women voice in cultural movement specialty in shahiri.

There are many Shahiri songs in the anti-caste movement written by Dalit women Shahirs that talk about Dalit women’s issues. Hartsock rightly says, “The activities of women that place them in a socially underprivileged position can form the basis of a privileged epistemic standpoint, through which a deeper understanding of patriarchal institutions and ideologies can be reached.”

This research is specifically showing the Dalit women's significant contribution to Shahiri and the anti-caste cultural movement. It's very significant to any kind of human rights movement to understand Women's voice and its impact on policies as well.

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