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No longer called acid victims- ‘Living with honor by Sheroes Cafe’

Sheroes Hangout is the country's first cafe chain managed and run by acid attack survivors

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March 07, 2017: It is often remarked that it is the face and not the woman is the attraction – perhaps this may be true for many but for some it is a woeful affliction. An Acid attack not only annihilates victim’s face but also annihilates the victim’s aspirations as well. The thought like of never been able to face the mirror frightens the soul of the victim. Think about it for a moment – ‘It is an impeccable life for you until the tragic day comes and one splash of corrosive acid on a spotless face crashes your world upside down’, Heart throbbing it will be to even empathize with these women.

This report contains excerpts from the interview conducted by a reporter Naina Mishra of NewsGram with the team of ‘Sheroes’, a cafe chain run by the acid attack survivors.

A Study on Acid Attack

According to Acid Survivors Trust International (AFSI) report, Acid attack is rampant in many parts of the world. Acid Survivors Trust International estimated that 1500 acid attack takes place annually worldwide. In context to India, there are between 100-150 acid attack yearly, as reported by Acid Survivors Foundation India (ASFI). Furthermore, Northern region of India has the highest incidence of acid violence accounting for 58% of the attacks while Eastern region with 18%, Western Region with 16% and Southern Region with 8% follow suit. Among the states of northern India, Uttar Pradesh is leading in terms of ill reputation with 234 attacks followed by 104 attacks in Delhi UT and 38 in Punjab (2010 -2014).

Sheroes Hangout – An Epitome of true warrior

Team of sheroes hangout, Acid attack survivors

Sheroes hangout is a café situated in Agra which is run by five acid attack survivors. Sheroes is a perfect example for women who struggled with fortitude in face of brutality. ‘Sheroes’ title was coined with the thought of amalgamating ‘she and heroes’.The café was started with ‘Stop acid attack campaign’ launched on 08 March 2013 (also celebrated as International Women’s Day).

Instead of being victimized these survivors chose to live a life of the valiant woman. They are no longer sitting and hiding their faces in a corner, but have stepped their way out to earn a respectable living for themselves.  Sheroes Hangout is also the country’s first cafe chain managed and run by acid attack survivors. The NGO was first started in Delhi. Neetu and Geeta (mother and daughter), acid attack survivors were in search of work but couldn’t go to Delhi due to disinclination, Hence it was collectively thought to start sheroes café as means of employment for these fighters. The team of Sheroes café works for the prosperity of these survivors by aiding them financially or by giving them medical assistance.

“I have evolved stronger with time and I see myself much happier now. I can now walk with head held high without the fear of being judged. I don’t care what people think about me unless I am working for myself.” told Roopa, an acid attack survivor at sheroes café to Newsgram.

Roopa, a 24-year-old girl, and an acid attack survivor have paved her path from a survivor to a fighter rigorously. She did not step out of her home from 5 years since the attack, until one auspicious day which showered blessing in her life yet again. She then met with the team of ‘stop acid attack’ campaign and joined the campaign in 2013. Roopa has been a part of the Sheroes since then. Roopa now feels confident about herself and she no longer has to cover her face out of humiliation. Roopa used to profane her ill-fated life by considering herself the only girl afflicted by the trauma. Later when she joined the campaign, she realized that her pain is minuscule in front of these survivors. Some of them have lost the hearing sense while some cannot see. Pain allows people to grow and what you become out of it is completely your choice. However, sheroes women had already decided their fate themselves. They knew what they were doing and succeeded.
“At first I used to think that I was the only one but when I came here I met 8 survivors. Some were not able to see from one eye, some could not speak. It has been 8 years and we are each other’s support.” Roopa further added.

An era of change

The acid attack victims are no longer seen as petrified and victimized. This indeed is an era of revolution where a woman’s voice can not be locked by these violators anymore. We see these women more fierce and brave. Those who tried to harm the existence of women forgot the very fact about the inception of a person’s life, which is also produced by none other than a woman itself. It is certain that nothing can halt the invincible ardor of a woman. Just like these survivors did to rebuild themselves from the misery.

reporting by Naina Mishra of Newsgram, Twitter @Nainamishr94 

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Talent Galore at the Auditions of Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017 Beauty Pageant

The pageant aims to provide all women with equal opportunity to showcase their potential, and discover and improve their expertise and talent.

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The jury of Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017
The jury of Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017

Kanpur, September 26, 2017 : Every beauty queen has a story to tell – stories of competition, confidence, and growth. Stories of belief, persistence, and victory. A story talking about her success and taking home the crown. But what is truly intriguing is to hear such success stories from married women in India, who dare to take a shot at fulfilling their dreams even after the society tells them otherwise. And this is the essence behind the competition, ‘Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017’.

ALSO READ Honoring Married Women- Glimpses of the Radiant Mrs Kanpur 2017: A Pathway to Mrs UP 2017

A unique beauty pageant currently taking roots in one of India’s largest states, Uttar Pradesh, Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017 is a pathway to the Mrs. UP beauty pageant that witnesses participants from all across the country.

Currently in its first phase, the audition and elimination round of Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017 was organized on September 19 that saw participation from over 56 women, out of which the best 12 participants have been shortlisted for the second round.

Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017
Participants at the Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017 competition.

The jury for the audition round included Mrs. Aditi Shukla, President, Inner wheel Club & Owner of Canpore Girls P.Ltd, Mrs Jaya Srivastava, noted singer and lyricist, who is also the Director of SUR TALL SANGAM and Dr. Ira Tripathi (P.hD) Clinical Psychologist & Counselor. Also in the panel were Mr. Sachin Mishra, director of Online Services P.Ltd. and Ms. Rashmi Dharampal Singh Bhadauria, director of A2Z Brand Communication Group.

The participants were judged on a variety of parameters that evaluated their confidence, wit, talent, presence of mind and also closely looked upon their personal achievements.

Radiant Mrs Kanpur 2017
Women from different age groups and backgrounds were part of the auditions of Radiant Mrs Kanpur 2017

A second phase of auditions and elimination has also been scheduled wherein the judges will shortlist six more participants to compete for the title of Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017, to be held on October 14.

Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017 aims to not only bring spotlight where it is due- on the married women who successfully manage work and personal life, but the competition also lends support to acid attack survivors and the transgender community of the Indian society who have chosen to not let circumstances hold them back.

The pageant aims to provide all women with equal opportunity to showcase their potential, and discover and improve their expertise and talent.

Jury, Radiant Mrs Kanpur 2017
Jury, Radiant Mrs Kanpur 2017

Thus, several acid attack survivors and transwomen also participated in the auditions, who took to the ramp to showcase their confidence and strength, thereby challenging the society’s trivial perception of beauty.

Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017 aims to bring together married women from all walks of life, to compete for the crown. The winner of the competition will also get an opportunity to participate in the upcoming Mrs. UP competition.

 

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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WoWakening: A Campaign to Celebrate Bravery of Acid Attack Survivors

The campaign aims to create an environment of awareness, inclusion, and celebration for acid attack survivors in India

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Wo Wakening
Sacred Transformation of Acid Attack Survivors. Niraj Gera

New Delhi, August 11, 2017:

WoWakening – ‘A Face to Lost Identity’, a campaign towards enlightenment of Acid Attacks has been launched by lateral sutra, an integrated marketing communications company, in association with Acid Survivors Foundation India.

The campaign aims to create an environment of awareness, inclusion, and celebration for acid attack survivors in India.

Mamta Dhingra, Founder, lateral sutra, said in a statement,  “WoWakening is over a month-long campaign dedicated to the spirit of positivity and hope that acid attack survivors exude despite the trauma, challenges, and dejection they face in everyday life”, mentioned News18.

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Talking about the campaign, Dhingra added: “The campaign is an all-encompassing effort to bring forth the stories of these indomitable women and their individual journeys which are an inspiration to millions”.

A contributing opportunity has been offered by catapooolt.com and desiredwings.com for WoWakening by way of crowdfunding.

ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE- Can a Scarred Face look Beautiful? Spiritual Healing with Niraj Gera 

“We feel fortunate to acknowledge the fact that every human is entitled to live a life filled with laughter and success. Acid attack survivors are souls just like you and me, so let’s take this as a privilege to give these lost identities a beautiful face through our platform by way of contributions from a liberal society,” said Mohammed Sirajuddin, Director of the company.

Starting with Delhi-NCR later this month, the campaign will be succeeded by a series of activities, including a photo-essay, panel discussion, and fashion show, to draw attention towards the issue.

There is a group of splendid survivors of the acid attack in Agra, who opened a cafe sometime back that goes by the name of ‘Sheroes Hangout’. Sheroes is a perfect example for women who struggled with fortitude in face of brutality.


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