No woman should be tested to prove her loyalty to her husband, and that is the only thing journalist Bandana Rana has against the Tij festival that falls on Friday. After feasting on Thursday, many women will fast the whole of the next day to show their devotion to their husbands.
Bandana says Tij is about celebrating womanhood, the coming together of sisters and friends to be free to sing, dance and celebrate. "Fasting is up to the individual, though no one should be coerced into it," she adds.
Bandana is a well-known face because of her job as a news anchor on Nepal Television, but few know about her pioneering role in encouraging women to join the media by training them and upgrading their professional skills. She got together with other women journalists to set up Sancharika Samuha in 1996, which has now grown to over 100 members all over the country. The idea is to train men and women journalists to be more gender sensitive-not an easy job in a patriarchal society like Nepal. For example, how does a reporter cover violence against women while ensuring that the publicity does not further stigmatise the victim?
She too modest to take all the credit for it, but Bandana thinks there has been a huge improvement in the way Nepali media covers gender issues today. Bandana describes herself as a feminist, but admits it is very different from the radical feminism in the west. "It doesn't mean being anti-men, for instance, it just means working towards equality between the sexes," she explains.
Bandana's ideal would be a Tij festival that celebrates womanhood without having to making it an excuse for doing it for the menfolk. She adds: "This Tij, how about husbands also fasting on Friday for the well-being of their wives?" (Aarti Basnyat)