New Delhi, Dec 24, 2020-
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared an anecdote about the introduction of women to the idea of draping the saree “pallu” over the left shoulder.
He said it was Jnanadanandini Devi, wife of Rabindranath Tagore’s elder brother Satyendranath, who came up with a sort of solution as draping the saree over the right shoulder hindered with chores.
Jnanadanandini, married to the country’s first ICS officer and hailing from the top echelon of the Brahmo Samaj, had lived for sometime in Ahmedabad, where her husband was posted. Women in Tagore family were highly educated and much ahead of their times.
Modi was virtually addressing the centenary celebrations of the Visva-Bharati University in West Bengal’s Santiniketan when his stories about Gurudev and his family came up among other things.
“Gurudev Rabindranath’s elder brother Satyendra Nath was appointed as an ICS officer in Ahmedabad. Satyendranath’s wife Jnanadanandini lived in Ahmedabad. The local women used to place the pallu over the right shoulder, which made it difficult for them to work.
“Jnanadanandini drew the idea — why not take the pallu over the left shoulder,” Prime Minister Modi said.
He said: “I do not know exactly but it is said that the saree pallu over the left shoulder is because of her,” and added that organisations’ connected with women empowerment should study this.
Modi also mentioned about the deep ties between Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and Gujarat.
Modi said, “When I talk about Gurudev, I cannot escape temptation to remember the deep ties Gurudev had with Gujarat.
“It is important to remember this again and again as it fills us with ‘Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat’ feelings. How connected is our country with different dialects and food? Diversity unites our country.”
Tagore lived in Santiniketan and brought international repute to it. The small town near Bolpur in Birbhum district was nurtured by the Nobel Laureate’s vision, that is now a university town — Visva-Bharati University.
Santiniketan was earlier called Bhubandanga (named after Bhuban Dakat, a local dacoit), and was owned by the Tagore family.
In 1862, Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, the poet’s father, while on a boat ride to Raipur, came across the landscape with red soil and lush green paddy fields. He decided to plant more saplings and built a small house.
He called his home Santiniketan, the abode of peace. He founded an Ashram here in 1863 and became the initiator of the Brahmo Samaj. (Agency)