Once matriarchal Kerala now lives under terrible patriarchy: Mallika Sarabhai

Mallika Sarabhai during a Kerala visit in 2012. File photo: Manorama

Mallika Sarabhai, noted classical dancer and freshly appointed Chancellor of Kerala Kalamandalam, has said she's concerned about Kerala's patriarchal status.

In an interview with Manorama News in Ahmedabad on Wednesday, Mallika Sarabhai spoke about her strong Kerala connection. She shared her experience of interacting with the women of Kerala some 15 years ago.

“I have worked extensively with the Kerala State Women's Development Corporation. In 2006-07, my artistic director created a film called 'Unarthupattu', which was based on the case study of issues facing young women. Along with a psychologist, we visited 40 colleges and spoke to 40,000 young women.

“I understand the terrible patriarchy under which the once matriarchal state lives today and I'm very concerned about that,” she said.

Mallika Sarabhai's mother Mrinalini, a renowned classical dancer herself, was born in Palakkad to a Malayali mother and Tamil father.

Mallika Sarabhai said she feels proud and humbled to be appointed the Chancellor of Kalamandalam, a deemed university of Arts and Culture.

“Somebody asked me today how I feel about being the first woman chancellor of an institution that only recently starting taking women, I don't know. But as somebody who has tried to fight for justice and human rights that is a merit to arts.”

Shrinking secular space
Mallika Sarabhai, however, feels Kerala has resisted threats of communalism. “Our secular space, the possibility of having a divergent view is shrinking by the minute in every sphere of India. So many of my friends are in jail for asking questions.

“Institutions like the JNU are being attempted to be broken down, there are so many other institutions where people are frightened enough to self censor and that is the worst when you self-censor. I hope Kerala keeps it open and all opposition states should be keeping it open,” said Sarabhai.

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