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Gandhari is no more deaf, mute and blind.
She blindfolded herself not out of devotion for her husband but as a protest to arbitrary male power and dynasty politics. It was not Gandhariwho chose to block sunlight out of her life; it was us who turned a blind eye and deaf ear to a woman’s pain, a wife’s pleas and a mother’s cries.
She was born a princess, but was forced to marry a blind man, Dhritarashtra, who was much older to her. She was blessed with a boon but who knew that would become a disastrous bane for Gandhari, the most tragic character in Indian epic Mahabharata.
In this 60-minute solo act performance, artist and theatre personality Aishveryaa Nidhi promises to read unread chapters of a woman’s life who embraced darkness with open arms.
Bhishma, the granduncle of blind Dhritarashtra, forced Gandhari’s father, the King of Gandhar, to negotiate the marriage. Before marrying,Gandhari tied a strip of cloth on her eyes and vowed to lead a life without colour and light. It is popularly presumed that she decided to blindfold herself as a gesture of gratitude and devotion for Dhritarashtra but the truth was different. Gandhari’s resolve was a silent protest against the power games of kings and her forced marriage. She became the mother of 100 sons, the Kauravas, and daughter, Dusshala. She remained blind to the power games, hatred and the growing animosity between her sons and their first cousins, the Pandavas, which later led to the great war of Kurukshetra.
Could she have averted the war had she not been determined with her resolve? Why was she helpless when she saw Draupadi being disrobed in court in full view of the Pandavas and Kauravas? Later, she refused to bless her sons for Kurukshetra and remained strong in her anti-war and pro-justice stand. But did this help?
The relevance of the play in the contemporary world is significant. It highlights the anti-war theme and the role of women, especially the mother in educating the society to give up violence. Gandhari was a very strong and intelligent woman, who closed her eyes to protest against her marriage which was a violation of her right as a woman, at a time when her contemporaries like Kunti and Madri were free to choose their husbands. Had she exercised her power as the Queen, she could have discouraged her sons from waging a war against their own brothers and kin.
At the Hollywood Fringe Festival: Sun, June 19, 3.30 pm. Sat, June 25, 2.30 pm. Sun, June 26, 5.30 pm.