Hindu College’s annual Damdami Mai Puja, which happens each year as part of the college’s Valentine’s Day celebration met with heavy criticism this year. This time around, leading up to the day of the Puja, several women students of the college had put out posters questioning the misogynistic ritual. Several female students also peacefully protested yesterday during the puja which aims to ‘seek’ sexual prowess for the ‘devotees’.
The annual puja is organised by the boys’ hostel union and held at the celebrated virgin tree of the college. A popular film actress is chosen as Damdami Mai and projected as the object of male desire. The devotees pray to the virgin tree and the ‘goddess’ to lose their virginity. The poster of the selected actress (Jacqueline Fernandez, this year) is pasted on the virgin tree and garlanded with condoms and items of worship. The ‘Mr Fresher’ of the boys’ hostel acts as the ‘priest’ of the infamous puja.
The illustrious V-day celebration is attended by students from across the university and has been in formulation ever since the inauguration of the boys’ hostel in 1953.
An introduction, this year was the inclusion of Love Guru, which was to serve as the object of female desire. Actor Ranveer Singh was chosen for the same. The Ms Freshers’ of the girls’ hostel essayed the role of the female priest.
Note the verses:
“36-24-36 ये तेरी काया
मैया ये तेरी काया
गानो पे ठुमका लगाता – 2
जय दमदमी माता
जब तू TV पे आती
तो हॉस्टल नचता
मैया तो हॉस्टल नचता
तुमको देखते देखते – 2
सुबह हो जाता
मैया जय दमदमी माता”
Your 36-24-36 physique is intimidating. I dance to your songs on TV in the hostel. I stare at you until sunrise.
The previous week saw many women students putting out posters and circulating messages on social media questioning the puja. The students had written to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of the college. Their requests were however turned down for ‘it did not come under their (ICC) domain’. The Hindu Students’ Parliament too has not taken any effective stand against it. “The Principal does condemn the celebrations, not for sexist concerns but because she wouldn’t want any commotion in the college premises”, stated Ritika, a final-year student at Hindu College and a Pinjra Tod activist.
Participating students counter the accusations of sexism stating that by putting up condoms on the tree, they aim to create awareness about AIDS. “The organisers flung condoms in the air onto the huge gathering of 150-200 students. We felt a bit uncomfortable when it hit us at some distance”, stated a female student present at the venue.
A trending video on the internet revealed how the ‘priest’ was made to circle bare-chested around the tree on the shoulders of ‘devotees’ as the crowds were sloganeering “Jai Bhole” and “Har Har Mahadev.” Eyewitnesses also revealed the crowds also chanted the slogan “Bharat Mata ki Jai.”
“I am not sure what kind of awareness are they promoting by hanging condoms. They were not with us when we protested against the sexist hostel regimes and discriminatory tariffs,” said Ritika indicating towards the hyper-masculine and misogynistic environment in the campus.