It was a really special day for more than thousand of women living in the rural and tribal area around and in Karamadai, a suburb of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.
It was a special day to me, too.
When we arrive around 10.30 am the women are all there, women who are going to celebrate their special day. They have been waiting for us, or better for the friend I’m coming with. He is one of the ‘special guests’ as he has given them a lot of social support during the last twenty years. As I am travelling with him, I am directly guided to the stage, too. No chance to escape.
Some local representatives from the Rotary club and local government are sitting there already – in front of all these women who look at us with curiosity and huge expactations. The community hall is crowded. Time to start.
An Indian function at its best
All is well prepared: speeches (many), honoring the guests with nice scarfs and recognition awards, a song presentation by some women (it must be a very local song, strange to my ears, but the women in the hall definetly like it and clap their hands) and small prizes and awards to women who in the past year have achieved a lot, be it in setting up small businesses, be it because of leading successfully selfhelp groups.
Some women dressed very differently come to the stage and show how different women in India can look today: there are women representing high level politicians, police women, sports women, traditional women, modern women.
What this function is all about: encouragement. Encouraging these women to go ahead, to ask for their rights and to put their energy in a better future.
We have to leave three hours later, but there is no real chance. Already on the way out, we are called back by the sisters: with energy and a huge wave of smart sympathy. “You cannot leave without having lunch with us!”
Who could deny to these fantastic women request?