“I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” – Benjamin Disraeli
All of us make some journeys which are life-changing. For me, one of those journeys was when I traveled alone for the documentary, Women and Religion in India. This documentary has my sweat, blood (I fell down along with my backpack), and tears (was left stranded with no money at midnight in a remote town). It took me from the snow-covered peaks of Jammu-Kashmir to the backwaters of Kerala, from the deserts of Rajasthan to the rains of Meghalaya and everything in between. But the most important part of my journey was meeting hundreds of remarkable women and understanding their thoughts and beliefs. They are women from all walks of life who are not afraid to address difficult issues, both through words and actions. I am incredibly fortunate to have met them.
Through this documentary, I want to highlight the attenuation of women’s rights, often under the guise of religion in India. In 2016 and 2017, I made a solo journey of 300 days across 5,500 miles in India. During that journey, I interviewed approximately 200 women and girls from five major religions (Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Sikhism). I was able to call to attention some of the discriminatory practices perpetuated by religion and/or its misinterpretation. Some of these issues covered in the documentary include menstruation and purity, women’s role in religious leadership, a patriarchal interpretation of religious texts, and women’s entry into various religious places.
My aim was to bring to light the issues which have been creating hurdles for Indian women, and women globally, for generations. These issues are not acknowledged, and hence remain unaddressed. Personally, having experienced and witnessed the gender biases promoted by religion, it inspired me to take the initiative to bring them to light on a national level.
To learn more about the project and screening opportunities, please follow my documentary’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WomenReligionIndia/
Disha Arora is a development communications specialist and documentary filmmaker. She works with nonprofits to find the best way to tell their stories of impact and build their unique identities. She also develops high quality communication tools that meet their goals. Over the past eight years, Disha has worked with a number of local and international nonprofits addressing social issues such as violence against women, rural education, climate change, animal protection, and effects of urbanization.