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‘Samantha’: An Event By ICCR Hyderabad To Bring Queer Community Artists Forward

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For the first time in Hyderabad, the LGBTQ+ communities were offered a space to present their art by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), the Ministry of External Affairs, and the Government of India. This was titled Samantha, an event curated by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, Samanvay, Shilparamam and the LGBTQ+ communities of Hyderabad. 

Performance at the event.

The event was held at Shilparamam, Madhapur, in the august presence of diverse audiences. The Ethnic Hall at Shilparamam was the venue for a seminar on Breast Cancer awareness, customised and tailored for transgender persons by Dr Ridhima Bindlish, followed by an exclusive handloom and handloom accessories ramp show by people of the LGBTQ+ communities.

This was conceived and executed by Ms Sudha Rani, the handloom social entrepreneur of Abhihaara. The ramp show had on display the plural gender-fluid fashion of many hues from LGBTQ+ organisations viz. Mobbera and Telangana Hijra Intersex Transgender Samiti, Telangana Hijra Transgender Samiti and many other individual LGBTQ+ persons and overseas students. 

The ramp walk celebrated ethnicity, fashion and gender fluidity and pluralism, all on one platform. The show was compèred and hosted by Ms Madhu Chebiyam, an associate of Ms Rani. 

Performance at the event.

The Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam and Kathak dance performances in the evening were at the Amphitheatre. Beginning with Ganesha Stuti, Mx Patruni Chidananda Sastry presented a unique item where masks of Cherial and Patha Chitra were used with dance to convey the importance of traditional painting art forms. 

This was then followed by a Javali. Sastry performed the whole Javali with stark and vivid reflections and reimaginations of self by a man, his emotions whilst cross-dressing in the privacy of his room in the larger context of societal non-acceptance.

There was also a Padam and Kuchipudi item, “Marakata Manimaya Chela”, which enthralled the audience. This was followed by a performance by transgender activist and Bharatanatyam danseuse, Ms Chandramukhi Muvvala. She presented Alarippu with crisp nritta and sharp technique of Bharatanatyam. 

Performance at the event.

The next item was Bho Shambo where her performance also depicted Arthanariswara as one of the many forms of Shiva. Chandramukhi’s performance was immersing and marked by precision. 

The ICCR empanelled artiste scheduled to perform Kathak that evening, Ms Devika Devendra S Mangalamukhi, could not travel to Hyderabad due to some personal exigencies. Consequently, the organisers were constrained to have Vaibhav Kumar Modi perform in lieu of Ms Mangalamukhi.

The final performance was by Mr Vaibhav Kumar Modi, who presented a Sargam in Kathak in Raag Bageshree in teentaal, a technical piece from the Jaipur Gharana of Kathak. The clean lines and strict tatkaar regaled the audience in the melody of his intricate footwork. 

Thereafter, the Director of ICCR, Hyderabad, Sri Lakshmaji Rao Yesentarao Ji appreciated all the artists with certificates. He also thanked them, the international students, all the performers and the larger LGBTQ+ communities. Ms Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli, transgender activist and art connoisseur from Hyderabad, concluded the evening with her note of thanks by urging the ICCR and the Government of India to bring in more such initiatives to include the LGBTQ+ communities and persons.

The entire dance event was very tastefully compèred and hosted by the very well known Mohiniattam danseuse and Malayalam actor, Ms Anita Peter. The gathering thanked her for her contribution. 

Pictures by Chegondi Chandrashekar

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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