Let traditions unite & not divide: says TOI’s #NoConditionsApply with Vidya Balan
When we speak of womanhood, what comes to mind is a single state of being; as if it were an undifferentiated gender. However, through years, the society has created labels and tags that exists within this gender. The married and the unmarried, the happily married and the divorced, the straight and the lesbian, the proverbial ‘complete woman’ and the transgender. It seems the woman’s existence has always been defined with an asterisk mark (conditions). #NoConditionsApply is TOI’s campaign to raise awareness to issues concerning Gender Equity across all opportunities, celebrations, ambitions.There has been a lot of talk on why the world needs diversity. Diversity will come through inclusion. And, true diversity and inclusion needs to be reflected not only in opportunity; but also in celebration and festivities.
True celebration of happiness necessitates inclusion of one and all. Driving home the message that “Festivals should be inclusive celebration”, TOI has recently launched a short film on inclusive Shindoor Khela that TOI hosted under the campaign of #NoConditionsApply.Contextualizing to Durga Pujo, which is a mega celebration of homecoming of Shakti (Goddess Durga and a symbol of Feminine Divine) to her maternal home with her sons and daughters, #NoConditionsApply campaign calls for an all-inclusive community celebration. Celebrated as a community gathering on the last day of Durga Pujo (Dashami), Shindoor Khela is a tradition that has been celebrated by married women for hundreds of years. On Dashami (10th day of DurgaPujo), married women come together in praise of Goddess Durga and play with Shindoor (vermilion) by smearing it on each other’s face and body. Traditionally children and unmarried girls are a part of this social celebration, however the rest of our sisterhood viz. widows, divorcees, transgender, single mom etc. looks on, uninvited. As a part of #NoConditionsApply campaign, TOI joined hands with Tridhara Sammilani – one of the prestigious Durga Pujo organizers in Kolkata – to host an all-inclusive Shindoor Khela.
All women played Shindoor Khela together – married, widow, transgender, lesbian, single mother, divorced. This film captures the journey to this inclusive celebration – that brings humanity closure and boundaries fade away. The on-ground celebration was recorded in a short documentary format, which is being launched today with the support of Vidya Balan, Rituparna Sengupta and LGBT activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi.The short documentary sheds light on the way in which we can help our own people feel happy and together, it also features women who were a part of the celebrations, and showcases their joy to be included.
Excited to be a part of this campaign actor Vidya Balan said, “I am happy to be associated with TOI’s #NoConditionsApplycampaign as it helps spread the message of social inclusion in the country. Women’s rights towards education, professional growth and societal expectations have evolved over the years but we still hold on to some traditions. It is important for women across the country to come together and support their own gender and extend this campaign further by sharing the Sindoor Khela short documentary.”
Speaking about the campaign, Sanjeev Bhargava, Director, Brand TOI,said, “When we talk of gender diversity, we should also talk about diversity within the gender. Discrimination among women, and within women, have been a part of our community since decades. The campaign #NoConditionsApply raises a pertinent issue of gender equity, and the fact that festivals need to be inclusive. Celebrations are meant to be a joyous time for everyone, not to make anyone feel unwanted or uninvited. While we talk about the inclusive Shindoor Khela in Kolkata through this short film, the message is relevant to all festivities across India, and the world at large.”
During Durga Pujo, TOI launched a powerful slam poetry titled “Shindoor Khela: #NoConditionsApply” to provoke questions about social inclusion during festivals. Narrated by leading women from Kolkata – Rituparna Sengupta, Gargi Roy Chowdhury, Manobi Bandopadhyay and Sohini Sengupta, the slam poetry that presents the point-of-view of the women who have been the on-lookers and un-invited to the festivities. The campaign crossed 1.2 Mn reach in 72 hours and generated more than 5Mn conversations across the social media with many men and women joining in with 2-dot Shindoor during the Shindoor Khela on 30th Sept. #NoConditionsApply is an initiative by TOI that was launched early in 2017, and aims to generate awareness and conversations calling for gender equity across all opportunities, celebrations, ambitions.