Stree Parvam: A Poignant Exploration of War’s Impact on Women

In the profound words of veteran theatre artiste A. Mangai, the eternal question that humanity grapples with is how to end a war. This sentiment sets the stage for Mangai’s latest production, “Stree Parvam (The Women)”, a collaboration with the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in memory of the passionate theatre enthusiast, Mina Swaminathan.

The term ‘stree parvam’, drawn from the Mahabharata, encapsulates the grief of women over the devastating losses inflicted by war. In Mangai’s 65-minute production, this grief is vividly portrayed, weaving a narrative that spans epochs and continents, from the ancient battlefields of the Mahabharata to the modern conflicts in Gaza and Eelam.

As the rehearsal unfolds, the audience is confronted with the chilling realization of war’s far-reaching consequences, depicted as an expansive, haunting blanket tightening around the neck of humanity. Yet, amidst the chaos and carnage, what resonates most deeply are the tears of women – silent, yet heavy with unspoken grief – that transcend time and place.

“Stree Parvam is an attempt to examine war through a gendered lens,” explains Mangai. The play opens with the powerful imagery of Gandhari and Kunti navigating the battlefield, their hearts heavy with the anguish of searching for loved ones amidst the sea of bodies. It is a poignant portrayal of the transient nature of life and the profound impact of loss on women.

The chorus serves as a poignant reminder of the atrocities committed in the name of war, challenging Gandhari’s assertions that sufficient warnings were issued. Instead, they recount the indiscriminate killings that stained the battlefield, from the tragic fate of Aravan and Abhimanyu to the infamous midnight massacre by Ashwathama.

Through “Stree Parvam”, Mangai offers a compelling exploration of war’s devastating toll on women, urging audiences to confront the human cost of conflict and to seek avenues for peace and reconciliation. As the echoes of war reverberate through history, it is the voices of women – their tears, their resilience, and their unwavering hope for a better tomorrow – that resonate most deeply.


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