The Ramayana retold – Crossword Bookstores in association with HarperCollins India hosts Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
To the women of today be yourself Sita was herself, Draupadi was herself and we can also be ourselves Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
“To the women of today be yourself! Sita was herself, Draupadi was herself and we can also be ourselves”- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Here are a few excerpts from The Forest of Enchantments, author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s latest novel, which tells the ancient epic from Sita’s perspective.
‘How entangled love is with expectation, that poison vine!’ muses Sita, as she awaits for Ram’s return. She had herself sent Ram on an errand to capture a deer that had captivated her attention, against Lakshman’s wishes!
“If Ram is a lion, you’re a dog. If Ram is fragrant sandalwood paste, you’re gutter mud,” screams Sita with rage, when Ravan asks her to imagine herself in his embrace.
US-based author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, is an author, poet and activist. She teaches writing at the University of Houston Creative Writing Programme. Her book places Sita at the centre of the novel and tells the Ramayana from Sita’s point of view. It comments on duty, betrayal, infidelity and honour, depicting women’s struggle to retain autonomy in a world that privileges men.
Published by HarperCollins, The Forest of Enchantments, narrates India’s favourite story, in an entirely new way, and makes it relevant to a whole new audience.
The author read the book and signed copies at Crossword Bookstores. It was a thrilling experience for the customers. Kartik Swaminathan, a young attendee said “This was entirely different from our grandma’s version of the Ramayana. It’s contemporary, more insightful and certainly powerful.”
Welcoming the author, Maulik Desai, Head, Crossword Bookstores says, “Crossword Bookstores has pioneered the entire experience of attending reading sessions with authors, bringing readers closer to them than ever before, and changing the way books are being consumed today. In her book Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni has weaved a familiar story into a whole new tapestry for the readers.”
In essence, The Forest Of Enchantments is a book written by a woman, in the voice of a woman for the women.
Speaking to the readers the author said, ‘Sita’s character is very complex, over the centuries we have over simplified her to think that she is meek, mild and long suffering but actually she’s a very strong character who stands up to injustice and who goes through very many difficulties and doesn’t give up in the process, hence she’s a real icon for these reasons and not for being meek and mild and I think that women of today can really look at her and be inspired by how she lived her life”
Author Interview :
1. What message would like to give the readers
Sita’s character is very complex, over the centuries we have over simplified her o think that she is meek and mild and long suffering but actually she is a very strong character who stands up to injustice and who goes through very many difficulties and doesn’t give up in the process, hence she’s a real icon for these reasons and not for being meek and mild and I think that women of today can really look at her and be inspired by how she lived her life.
2. A powerful message to the women of today
“ To really learn from these great characters like Sita and Draupadi and that they weren’t perfect and its perfectly fine to be a human woman with good sides and bad sides, we’re all like that sometimes society puts a huge burden on us that we have to be extra wonderful as woman, extra pure, extra good, extra everything so I think my message to woman of today is be yourself, Sita was herself, Draupadi was herself, and we can also be ourselves.”
3. A message for women to rise up above the glass ceiling
“The glass ceiling exists but we have to keep battling it right? We have to push past it by being strong and keeping at it. Just like Sita, she was left in the forest it really seemed like her life was ending it couldn’t get better but she pushed through the difficulties we also have to push through then glass ceiling and I think its really important for us to come together and do it together because by ourselves these kind of social situations are hard to change but if women come together and speak up against such things I think that is the way to change things.”
4. What inspired you to re-tell Indian mythologies ?
“Our epics and mythologies are very powerful and wonderful stories but they really are not focused around women they are very male centered you know battles, weapons, intrigue but there are so many women characters and I really wanted to explore that space because I also believe that depending on who is the teller of story the whole nature of the story changes, what the story means just becomes different, I wanted it to become more centered around woman analyzing the woman and their complexity.”
5. One turning point in your life which paved your way to become an author
“I think the biggest change for me was immigration. When I immigrated to the United States it really made me do two things differently, one is I became more aware of the Indian culture you know sometimes when something is easily available to you, you don’t appreciate it and you realize it only when you’re half way across the world I really began to think about Indian Culture and appreciate our old stories, appreciate my family which until then I had just taken for granted so then I started to write the whole story about such things; just about my life in India, the situation of women, family structures about our myths and legends so that was one thing.
6. How many books have you written till date and is there anything in the pipeline?
“This is my 18th book and I’m currently working on a historical novel right now set during the British times in India.”