The untold story of Supranakha

Published: 03 November, 2013 10:07 IST | Phorum Dalal |

In Valmiki's Ramayan, Ravan's sister is the demon who tries to seduce Lord Ram and is mutilated and punished for the same. Kathak dancer Ashavari Majumdar will visit lesser-known versions of the epic through a recital on November 8

In Valmiki’s Ramayan, Sita is the chaste one, Rama the ideal man, and Supranakha, Ravan’s Rakshasi (demon) sister who is mutilated and punished for falling in love with Ram.

When Kathak dancer Ashavari Majumdar read AK Ramanujan’s Many Ramayanas, she learnt that there are over 300 versions of the Ramayan, including Cambodian, Russian, Persion, Thai and Kamban (Tamil) adaptations.

Kathak dancer Ashavari Majumdar’s performance has Western, as well as Japanese musical influences

“I questioned why was I told only one version of the mythological text as a child?” says Majumdar, who decided to make a production on Supranakha after she received grant from India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) three years ago.

“In one of the versions of Ramayan, Sita is Ravan’s daughter, while in Adbhut Ramayan, Sita is regarded as Goddess Chandi. When I came across Supranakha, whose nose was cut off as a punishment for falling in love with Ram in Valmiki’s story, I was fascinated. For me, she was a victim of patriarchy. While Sita is chaste, Supranakha is the wild one, wandering in the forest, where she encounters Ram, and falls in love with him,” says Majumdar. In the first part, she depicts the brother-sister relationship between Ravan and Supranakha, in the second, she compares Sita and Supranakha.

“While Sita and Supranakha are opposites, they both are victims of the same system,” says Majumdar, who plays Ram and Supranakha in the third sequence. “Here, Rama is the seduced one, while Supranakha is the seducer, which is contrary to our culture. What does that make Ram? In Adyatma Ramayan, Ravan is a Ram bhakt. In the same way, Supranakha’s love for Ram can be considered a spiritual quest too. In the jungle, which is home to the monkeys and demons, Ram is the one who is invading Supranakha’s space. She was not afraid to express her love for Ram, for which she was mutilated and punished,” explains Majumdar, who expands her Kathak vocabulary, intertwines it with dialogue and theatrics. While the performance has live recordings, the traditional sarangi, perscussion and vocals, it also has Western, as well as Japanese musical influence.

When: November 8, 6.30 pm
Where: The Art Loft, 37 Waroda Road, Ranwar,
Bandra West
Call: 098 19132958
Entry: Free

The narrative of the Karbala Battle
On November 7, Epsita Halder, a Bengali poet and novelist who received an IFA grant for research towards a travelogue on the songs performed during Muharram across various districts in West Bengal, will present an audio-visual talk on Muharram songs as a part of a performative tradition that interprets and internalises the history of the sect. “My father used to tell me the story of a father, who loses his infant during a battle. Years later, I found that the story traced to the Karbala battle,” says Halder. The presentation is based on the narrative of the Karbala Battle as recounted by Shi’a Muslims across

When: November 7, 6.30 pm
At: Project 88, BMP Building, ground floor, Narayan A Sawant Road, Colaba
Call: 22810066
Entry: Free 

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