Women Were Instrumental in Kuli Mela
Posted August 7, 2008
I would like to apologize to Stritama dasi on behalf of the organizers of Kuli Mela for the insult to her daughter in the heat of a game ("'Mataji' Must Never Mean Contempt", August 5). The other organizers and I had not been aware of this situation, nor was it brought to our attention at the time. If it had been, we would have certainly asked the boy to correct his communication.
I am grieved to see a personal insult in the heat of a game translate into a wider statement about the Kuli Mela just recently held. At the Kuli Mela, more than half the key members of the organizing team are young women, without whom the event would have been impossible — all of whom were properly respected, both as Vaishnava women and as fellow organizers.
Sunayana, Haripriya, Priya, Nadiya, Ananda, Joyce and Bhaktilata prabhus — and a host of other female volunteers — were essential, respected and appreciated. Many of the artists, as well as the seminar presenters, are also female-bodied. As organizers, the gender of delegates, speakers and organizers was absolutely irrelevant to our perspective of their abilities.
However, there is an even greater story of women from this year's Mela, and it is this which I hate to see tarnished. At the event, many of the organizers' own mothers were present. My mataji Harilila dasi, Bimala's mataji Bala Gopal dasi, Bala's mataji Asta Shakti dasi, his stepmother and a host of other women were all present to enliven us with their encouragement, their ability and their diligent and continued offering of love, support, encouragement and service. For us, it was a theme for the event, and I would hazard to say that a strong part of our desire to do service was the strength of our mothers and our appreciation of them.
An insult by a young man in the heat of a football game, which is very much in the mode of passion, cannot represent or undermine the mood of an entire event. However, on a personal level, I offer my apologies to Sritama prabhu and to her daughter for any distress and insult caused.
Next time. if they approach me directly, I will deal with it on the spot. I agree completely with her that it is imperative to worship our women properly, and offer them true respect. Having failed to protect her daughter from this insult is a failure on our part.