Manimekhalai Canto XVIII

Sun Dec 17 20:12:15 UTC 1995

In Canto II of the Buddhist epic Manimekhalai,  Vasantamala, the
heroine's companion condones Madhavi      for having renounced her
birthright as a dancer and for having chosen the monastic life instead.
Vasantamala states: " For a girl destined by birth for art and pleasure
to become an ascetic and mortify herself is an impious act...To act in
defiance of the laws of the city is no virtue.  Renounce this behaviour
at once" (Shattan 5).   Further on,  Madhavi's mother vows to prevent
her granddaughter,  Manimekhalai from behaving as disgracefully as her
mother. She declares: "If I do not succeed in accomplishing this
mission,  I deserve to suffer the fate of those that are thrown out of
our caste,  who are led around the dance floor with seven bricks on
their head before being cast out,  after which they are forever
excluded from public meetings (Shattan 72).

My question regarding the quote from  Canto XVIII is,  where would I
be able to find more detailed information on this practice of ousting
dancing girls from their caste? I would also like to know under what
other circumstances might a dancing girl be barred from her social
caste.  If there is anyone who could point me in the direction of
any sources regarding this topic,  I would be most grateful.

Thanking you in advance,
Sujata Ghosh.

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