Kolkata: The female Imam came in spotlight in Kerala after performing Namaaz. Almost the same picture has witnessed in Kolkata.
But the matter is a little different. As a priest, a woman is married to a mantra. Although the traditional ‘kanyadan’ is not done in that marriage.
Nandini Bhowmik, by profession- a professor, a drama artist and a mother who has gifted a new message to the masculine patriarchal society as a female priest. She is the first female priest in this state.
She is a Sanskrit professor in Jadavpur University and associated with number of Dance Organisations. In past ten years, she has solemn at least 40 marriages in and around Kolkata.
In most cases, Nandini Devi has united hands of different castes. He also gave his daughter marriage as priest.
The style of marriage of Sanskrit professor Nandini Bhowmik is very different from the traditional rules of society. She simplifies Sanskrit hymns to English and Bengali for the bride and the groom to chant while her troupe sings Rabindra Sangeet in the background. The entire process takes just an hour to finish. Because, she gave up the process of ‘kanyadaan’.
Nandini Devi said, “I do not perform Kanyadaan as I consider the practice regressive in which women are treated as commodities. I try to keep the rituals short and simple and complete the entire programme within an hour.” She consider herself as a social reformist.
Despite the growth of political Hindutva that calls for puritanism, Bhowmik is yet to feel threatened. “I respect the traditional priests and I am not in confrontation with them. Though my husband sometimes feels threatened due to the growth of aggressive Hindutva, I have not yet received any personal threats,” added the mother of two daughters.
She even solemnised her daughter’s marriage. Bhowmik draws inspiration from her teacher Gouri Dharmapal. A priest with a difference, she donates most of her earnings to an orphanage in Balighai near Puri in Odisha.