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By Rosanne Kanhai

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Example text

Its treatment of the exile theme provided immense solace and emotional support to the immigrants who, viewing their indenture as a type of exile, identified with the trials and tribulations in the text; they upheld Rama’s dignity and endurance as an ideal worthy of emulation in their own situation. The idea of exile and return that runs deep in the text provided yet another point of identification and solace, since many, especially in the earlier phases of indenture, nurtured the hope of one day returning to the motherland.

Then they wouldn’t think anything good about me . . ”56 The status of Hindu women during this period was highly conditioned by a desire to control female sexuality through child marriages, glorifying female reproductive powers and preferring sons over daughters. The prevailing attitude was further marked by a lack of sympathy for widows and for widow remarriage and by glorifying women whose husbands were alive, deeming them a source of prosperity and assigning exclusively to them certain rituals and rites.

Such issues include the changing concept of the ideal Indian wife and woman; the increasing sense of individualism among Hindu women; the changing role of women in rites, rituals and religion; the rapidly increasing numbers of women in almost all occupational fields; and the shifts in priority. The following excerpt from the Sunday Guardian (1996) provides an apt example of such reinterpretations. The article analyses Sita “as an individual in her own right” who challenges her husband for not wanting her to accompany him to the forest, confronts and chastises her abductor Ravan, holds herself in very high esteem and marries only he who proves worthy of her.

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