Delving into the history of the lost spaces that remain as vestiges which continue to haunt, Meena. T. Pillai was in a conversation with the historian and author Manu.S.Pillai at the SPACES Fest.
The session began with anecdotes of learning history through the journey he makes. The insights on matriarchal rulers who went on to conquer battles, the glamorous life of the women rulers in Travancore when compared to those in Kochi was quoted. The example of Sethu Lakshmibai who was called Sethu Lakshmibai Maharaja irrespective of the gender, and how they would be addressed as Thampurattty and not Thampuran when we moved further north were mentioned. These women who excelled in exercising power, proved to be efficient administrators as well. Citing tales of bravery and valour of various queens he emphasised on how they made a statement excelling at the position they were in.
The discussion which was applauded for its sequential movement from the history of the matrilineal system towards the shift to a patriarchal set up, highlighted the influence of colonial forces in the reforms that followed. Their influence reversed a number of systems making the men empowering and creating an identity for them bringing in the economic aspect into play, noted Pillai. The moral and ethical problems related to matriliny was brought into the realms of thought, systematically abolishing the system in a short span of over fifty years. For the women in the royal clan it was a matter of imbibing the patriarchal thread while discarding the royal identity they enjoyed, added Pillai.
Talking of the current scenario, in a question posed by Meena T. Pillai, he said that imbibing on customs from around the country is a matter of an individual’s choice but understanding the historical trajectory was imperative. He substantiated his statement explaining about the usage of sindooram which was irrelevant in a society which followed polyandry. He also mentioned about the matrilineal customs that still mattered when rituals were concerned.
The session concluded on the note that matriliny was never an equal system but less unfair than the other systems that were being followed.