One Billion Rising ??? Kochi – by the other half of the sky…

One Billion Rising! Kochi – Strike! Dance! Rise!

A Day Kochi Pledged To Ensure The Safety of Its Women!

By – D Purushothaman Pillay

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One Billion Rising!( OBR ) is a global one day campaign by women, for women, on Thursday, 14 Feb 2013, commemorating the 15th anniversary of the 1998-born V-Day Movement, initiated by the 59 year old American feminist, performer, artivist, playwright of “The Vagina Monologues” and world renowned activist – Eve Ensler, herself a sad victim of paternal abuse. This movement calls for an end to violence and for justice and gender equality for women all around the world.

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This world-wide rally is being held in around 197 countries, aided and supported by more than 13000 organizations, it is believed that supporters would take time from their busy lives, jobs, homes and businesses to join together to dance in a show of solidarity, in refusal to accept violence against women anymore, anywhere. The ‘One Billion’ in the slogan refers to the number of women world over, who have already suffered outrage and are hapless survivors of various types of abuse. The V-Day Organization has analyzed, that one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, and therefore, has given a clarion call to rise up, and demand an end to all manner of violence against women. They say one billion women violated is a shameful atrocity, but then one billion women dancing will be a glorious revolution!

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The evening started with singer Usha Uthup riding a float flagged off by Bishop Sebastian Edayantharath and M Lakshmi, from the Rajendra Maidan to the Durbar Hall stage, accompanied by an enthusiastic procession of people from all walks of life. There was a fair sprinkling of representatives from a variety of fields like politics, law, cinema, performing arts, journalism, writing, TV, NGOs, religious organizations, academic institutions and the obvious women organizations, who actively participated and ensured the success of this movement – OBR.

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The event was proud to have an art installation by Contemporary Visual Artist Sajitha Shankar, which symbolized the inner ‘Shakthi’ of the Indian woman rising to end the violence. The proceedings on the grounds, started with lighting of lamps around this art installation along with a communal prayer, thereafter, Justice Usha Sukumaran administered an oath to the assembly of people, appropriate to the occasion. Justice V R Krishna Iyer spoke with passion and inspired the multitude in attendance to support women and shun any kind of violence against them. It was very heartening to also see Industrialist Mr Jose Thomas, the Head of the Choice Group, also took time out from his busy schedule, to not only speak a few words, but also shake a leg with Usha Uthup and other dancers on the stage, in support of the crusade.

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Thereafter there was a new energy that was unleashed on the assembled throng, with the effervescence created by ‘Didi’- Usha Uthup’s renditions in her mellifluous voice. Ranjini Haridas added her share of vivaciousness with her enthusiastic spontaneity and infectious zeal. The various songs regaled the audience, it must be said that the selection was apt and well thought-out, befitting the spirit that was required to be created for the occasion. I would like to make a special mention of two of Didi’s songs – “Ente Keralam Ethre Sundaram” and “Bindiya Chamkegi” which were instant hits with the masses, all were seen wildly enjoying these foot-tapping numbers. The event also had other artistes performing a variety of acts for the entertainment of the assembled crowd. It was indeed a most memorable evening, gleefully celebrated with exuberance, high energy and gay abandon.

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Let us hope this great show of solidarity by the local citizenry, would go a long way in ensuring that our wonderful Kochi fulfils the primary V-Day Org vision of providing in this city “a world where women live safely and freely”.

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