Womens History Month – Bhakti Mystics, Ensembles, Ovi Songs – March 2023

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MusicMatters Header   March is women’s history month. Even as we celebrate women across the world for their accomplishments, we also need to acknowledge their continuing struggles and create more spaces for empowering them. In this issue we begin with the women poets of the Bhakti movement, women’s musical performances as ensembles on stage and and folk songs at work.
Women Bhakti Mystics
The poetry of the Bhakti mystics speaks of devotion, love and surrender. Women mystics, a minority amongst them, often did so on personal terms. Some such as Akka Mahadevi, Andal and Meera, are well known outside their regions. Many like Karaikkal Ammaiyar, Soyarabai, Lal Ded and Bahinabai are lesser known. Their lives and poetry offer sobering lessons about the inequality and discrimination that continue. Read about these women poets and their struggles here.
Stree Shakti Women Ensembles
Women musicians, particularly accompanists continue to face a paucity of performing opportunities. Women ensembles are one of the ways they create opportunities for one another. To celebrate these women ensembles find a playlist of their performances across multiple genres here.
Ovi grinding stone Ovi Songs from Maharashtra
Ovi refers to folk songs sung by women in rural Maharashtra while they engaged in their daily work. The rhythmic nature of these songs sets the tone and time for their work. The songs themselves often speak of their challenges from the physical to the emotional whether it is domestic duties or dealing with despotic spouses. The ovi meter was also used by Bhakti mystics such as Tukaram in their poetry. To learn more about these songs click here. ***
Other links that may be of interest:
Vivartana – The Search for Meaning through Music – Chitra Srikrishna

Raga Corner: Revati (Carnatic) | Bairagi (Hindustani) ***
Previous Issues | Raga Ruminations Podcast | RaagTime Radio Show

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