sulabh swatchh bharat

Friday, 22-March-2019

Nandini Bhowmik - Woman priest who solemnises weddings without kanyadaan

Kolkata priestess junks patriarchy and performes the wedding without performing patriarchal rituals

We live in a patriarchal society where most rituals are performed by a male priest. One would have hardly seen a female priest performing rituals at a wedding or any other auspicious occasion. However, women are now fighting these social barriers across all spheres.
One of them is Kolkata’s Nandini Bhowmik, a woman priest who is solemnising wedding ceremonies without performing patriarchal rituals like kanyadaan.
Nandini Bhowmik is trying to do away with the patriarchal mindset where parents treat their daughter like a commodity, renounce her custody, and give her away as daan. Apart from her role as a priest, Nandini also works as a Sanskrit professor and a drama artist. She challenges age-old patriarchal setups in all her roles, and is the first woman in West Bengal to adopt the role of a priest.
Nandini recites the difficult Sanskrit shlokas in either Bengali or English so that the bride and the groom can understand them. Weddings performed by her have Rabindra Sangeet playing in the background.
Nandini has been doing this work for the past 10 years, and has solemnised over 40 weddings till now. She has a daughter, and has performed rituals at her wedding as well. She believes in making a difference with her work, and donates most of her earnings to an orphanage in Odisha.
Incidentally, the practice of women priests solemnising weddings without kanyadaans is mentioned in the earliest Hindu texts, especially the Rig Veda. Nandini wishes to propagate that school of thought throughout