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Sita’s Ramayana: A Feminist Retelling

As if it wasn’t enough to take The Ramayana and present it in images, this volume retells the
ancient epic through the eyes of a woman. This is Sita’s Ramayana.

House of Anansi, 2011 Artwork by Moyna Chitrakar

The original Sanskrit text is attributed to the poet Valmiki, and it is comprised of 24,000 verses
which tell the story of Rama, whose wife was kidnapped.

She, his wife, does not have a voice in that version. It is not, however, unusual for there to be
other versions of the story; different regions do put their own spin on thing, imbuing them with
local custom and culture.

And it’s not a new idea to afford Sita a more prominent role; the publisher draws attention to the
Chandrabati Ramayana, Bengal’s version of the legendary tale, for Chandrabati was one of the few
female re-tellers and she, too, focussed on Sita rather than her husband.

Chandrabati’s version dates to the 16th century; Samhita Arni’s was published last year and was
produced to mesh with Moyna Chitrakar’s artwork. Tradition and innovation conspire to
produce something familiar and fresh.

What is unusual about this work, however, is affording Sita not only a voice, but a primary position
in the narrative. Even when she is not present for events, she recounts them as she believes them
to have happened.

“Sita’s Ramayana belongs then to a distinctive female narrative tradition. Kept alive by folk songs
and memories, this tradition continues to leaven the epic world of heroes and war and the virtues
of nurture, compassion and tolerance.”

Sita’s vision encompasses all those who suffer.buriedinprint. children and ordinary people. (There is also. following the chain of events after her abduction. apparently. right and wrong. “Her sense of what has befallen her renders her open to what other women endure.There are also two other female characters who are introduced into the chain of events in Sita’s Ramayana. but also animals and birds.dpuf . who do not appear in the original story. And rather than divide the world up into good and bad. more magic in this version of events than in the more at: http://www. endure and ultimately bear the consequences of what kings and wars do — and this includes not only women. ultimately condemning the act of war itself.yAnhtQ5l. She is capable of recognizing honour in her “enemy” and betrayal in her “ally”.” .) And one other remarkable aspect of this retelling is that Sita takes a position of feeling remorse for all of the losses in the war which results. she feels compassion even for those who are on the “other side” of the conflict.

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