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How I Reimagined the Mahabharata Ladies as Today's Feminists

Storytelling is an integral part of Indian culture. The Mahabharata is one such story in Indian mythology that remains fascinating - no matter how many times it has been narrated or depicted.

However, what has remained consistent is the one-dimensional portrayal of women in most of these stories. They are often shown to be weak, submissive and dependent. To make the Mahabharata a story that endures the test of time, it must be made relatable and relevant to the current, 'millennial' generation.

'Oh Nari, So Sanskari!' is a satirical take on stories of women from the great Indian epic Mahabharata . The zine sheds light on challenges that 21st century Indian women face, by placing Kunti, Gandhari and Draupadi in a modern context. Here are a few of the illustrations:

On re-visiting the stories from the epic, I realised that, although dynamic and capable, the women in the story were always shown dependent on the men in their lives. Being an Indian woman myself, there was a pressing need for accurate representation of the characters as aware, vocal, and opinionated.

Using references from feminist history, pop culture and media, the zine comments upon stereotypes that have surrounded Indian women from time immemorial.

I'd like the reader to be left questioning the roles and expectations of our culturally rooted society. Hopefully, the zine inspires young girls to believe that Indian women are more than the roles they have been cast into, and pushes them to break the norm and create their own identities.

(Annushka Hardikar is a recent graduate from Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology. Her passion lies in illustration and storytelling. She is usually found sketching furiously in her journal, daydreaming about cheesecake or watching clumsy dog videos. Check out more of the zine here.)

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