Thursday, June 3, 2010

Throwing down the Gauntlets - our documentary

We shot a documentary in Allahabad on a unique tradition known as the tradition of Maharajin Bua last month in Manaiya village, a village about 25 kms from district headquarter. Two girls are here working as a female cremator...I also made a news which was published in several newspapers and attracted a lot of curiousity.. are some pics during the shoot. Pre-production work is over and the editing would be completed in last of the June in Delhi. After the post-production work, the doc would be ready by the mid of July..thx to Vivek, Rajesh ji, Kailash ji, Praveen and people of Manaiya for all the support.

Maharajin Bua's tradition gets two successors
Allahabad, May 15. The tradition of Maharajin Bua, probably the
first female cremator of India, who defied the orthodox values of
the tradition, has got two successors in her city.
Gulab Tiwari, popularly know as Maharajin Bua, who took up the
profession of cremator about 50 years ago on the bank of river
Ganga, invited several criticism as in Hindu tradition, it is
not regarded as an auspicious step for women to go to the cremation
ground 'ghat'.
Throwing down the gauntlets to society, Maharajin Bua accepted
her traditional work as her way of earning bread and butter for her
family and not only accepted but also glorified this work with her
presence and attracted media and researchers from all over the world
to the Rasoolabad ghat (cremation ground) of the Sangam city.
Several news agencies, news papers and news channels covered the
story of Maharajin Bua and published/ telecasted it as a tale of
victory of struggle over the hurdles.
After her demise few years back, it was believed that her
tradition was ended with her demise but two girls have belied the
Manaiya, 50 kilometers away from district headquarters, is the
village of Reshma (17) and Kaushalya (18), who have opted their
professional business of cremator as their profession and feel proud
in this work.
Kaushalya told that she started this work due to the dismal
financial condition of the home.
''When my brother went out of the home for earning and father
fell ill, I had to take the responsibility of the house as a male
child and I decided to take cremation as my profession,'' Kaushalya
''I do not think there is any problem, I do this work as my
father did. If males can do this why can't we,'' she asks indicating
Reshma also started the work due to the adverse financial
condition of her home.
''When we started this work our friends would made our fun but
soon they realised that this is our way to earn our bread and
butter,'' Reshma adds.
Reshma and Kaushlya completed their studies till standard sixth
and eight respectively but compelled to leave the school as their
families were not able to teach them.
Central and state government has initiated several schemes for
poor, girls and backwards but the advantage of such schemes seldom
reach to the right candidate. These girls never heard the name of
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural employment guarantee Act (MNREGA) and
Kaushlya's father Radhe Shyam Verma does not understand what a job
card stands for.
Kaushalya's father told that he once worked on a pond digging but
did not get the full payment by 'pradhan' so far.
''When we started this work, this was a new experience for the
people. Several people, came with the body, used to deny to get the
last rites performed by the girls but now situation is not so
difficult,'' Reshma adds.
When asked about the income, they says it depends upon the type
of the dead body.
''If any oldies has died, we ask Rs 50 but if there is a death of
any young person, we are paid Rs 11 or Rs 21 and we do not force to
pay them more,'' the girls say.
These girls are not aware of Maharajin Bua, though Kaushalya says
she has heard the name.
''Some people take this name when see us performing the last
rites. She might be a cremator like us,'' says Kaushalya.
These girls are doing this work merely for their bread and butter
but they do not know that they are changing an orthodox tradition
and carrying the flame of the tradition which Maharajin Bua burnt.
A famous quote says 'big changes occur slowly' which seems
completely being implemented here.