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“A lot of conservative readings tend to ignore this part of the story.”

Bhumika Patel explains “Sita in the Ramayana: Female Empowerment Through Trial by Fire” with a mature flourish that presided throughout her entire presentation. I was almost inspired to change my major. Though she starts off with a few…technical glitches, Bhumika manages to bravely carry on her presentation, speaking from a womanist, feminist perspective about the story of the “Ramayana”, a Sanskrit epic poem which has “stuck with her over the years”. This particular story represents the ideal man and woman for many people in South Asia. Bhumika explains that she wanted us, as her audience, to understand how woman can become inspired through this entirely patriarchal story.

A huge epic war is waged in this poem after Sita is stolen from her lover by a greedy king. However, after she is won back, her lover tells her that he doesn’t love or want her any more and he only saved her to avenge his honor, making “accusations against her purity”. She, in a heroic comeback, speaks back to the dishonorable prince in a public setting during a time when women were barely allowed to speak at all. She claims that he “harbors suspicions against all women”, and chooses to speak for all women, “making a powerful statement about how women are treated” based on the circumstances of a few.

Bhumika was very much inspired by how Sita chooses to fight against the unfairness of her treatment by her ex-lover, a feeling that by the end of her presentation, the members of her audience definitely shared. Sita is a representation of woman warriors everywhere. Rather than backing down in the face of adversity, she stands up for herself in a show of bravery that I feel will inspire the female population for centuries to come. Bhumika is described by her advisor as an “extraordinary individual” and after seeing this presentation, I cannot help but agree.