I am Harsh and currently, I am a student of literature. I am a history buff and I am an avid reader of non-fiction history and political books. I am vocal about gender rights, feminism, LGBTQ culture, and politics. In my free time, I try to do art, poetry and I write letters. A queer man from a semi-rural state of Bihar, I try to do my part of duty by making people aware of their gender rights. When in Delhi I try to participate in queer activism and write about mythology and culture.
Witchcraft is said to be the first feminist movement in world history. It has been demonized by the male-centric Christianity and the practice is often ridiculed even today. From a feminist’s gaze, witchcraft has empowered women as it gives them the power to be independent and self-reliant. All these years women who were strong or have stood against patriarchy have been associated with the devil and evil. The infamous witch hunt was started to target women who were easily labeled as witches. Modern-day witchcraft is non-pagan. Many women have started practicing it all around the world irrespective of the religion they were born in. There are no hard and fast rules. Today, being a witch is being a feminist with a touch of extra empowerment.
Harsh talks to Aakerschika Narayan Mishra, a modern-day witchcraft practitioner. She is 35, a single mother, and a successful witch. In her interview, she talks about witchcraft, her journey of becoming a witch, and busts some myths about the practice.
How would you define witchcraft? What is the essence of this practice and how is it different from other religions?
Witchcraft is considered a religion because it’s practiced by a community of people. It often involves paganism. However, for me, it is more about a way of living than a religion because there are sects of witchcraft that totally rely on path works and spiritual power rather than pagan rituals. It is something very personal because it’s practiced by each person in their own unique ways. Every witch has a different approach and maybe even different principles. There are some who totally shun the use of props & sacrifices. They focus more on their imagination and path work. It is a personal spiritual practice.Continue reading “Interview with a modern-day Witch in India: looking at magick with a feminist lens”→
Bob Dylan once said, “I accept chaos, I’m not sure if chaos accepts me”
Last year I moved from my small hometown in Patna to the capital for higher studies at the University. I had always looked forward to a life away from home in a city which I could call mine. The day I landed in Delhi, I was welcomed with a strong sense of nostalgia. I have never lived here but it felt that the city had embraced me even before. It was a strange yearning – a longing for a city that had died a thousand deaths in history. A city that had welcomed so many, welcomed me too with open arms. The bustling metropolis full of life immediately announced that it doubles as my home.
It happened quickly – moving to a 2 BHK somewhere near central Delhi, getting admitted into one of the most prestigious universities in India, walking through the small galis of Delhi, and the monumental realization of life not being the same anymore. When I first entered my room, I remember noticing the huge window in front of me, brimming with sunlight that hit my face. I instantly knew where I would keep my wooden desk, where my bed would be placed, and where I would be hosting my small tea parties and poetry sessions. It was a luxury to have a room all by myself in Delhi. I never took it for granted and eventually it became my writer’s den. A den where all the brainstorming happened, a place where revolutions were planned, a place where self-reflection happened, and a place that hugged me back on my gloomy days. Continue reading “Deliverance amidst chaos – How the frenzy of the national capital set me free”→
Saransh, a history student, lives with his orthodox family who is pretty serious about their beliefs like most Indian families. Every day he leaves home, walks a few blocks away, and finds the washroom in the nearest cafe where he puts on the oversized shirt bought from the women’s section. He also puts on his septum ring, applies nude lipstick, and uncovers tattoos on his collar bone, shoulder, and feet. He then wears his silver rings and anklet and leaves for his college.
He is a freelance writer, a hardcore feminist, and makes art in his free time. He spends his days plotting the murder of patriarchy and actively participates in pride parades and debates for his right in the college society. He aspires to be a historian specializing in gender and sexual history.Continue reading “On being Queer & the Quandaries of “Love yourself””→
Dipti and her mother Madhu’s indie brand “Baar Baar Dekho” is a heaven for people who love stationery and little collectibles for their space. The two ladies have successfully created a business that is all about handmade stationery, cute little decor items like cushions and coasters, and a whole lot of love and warmth. This mother-daughter duo are boss ladies and truly make a dream team!
I have read about you, I have talked about you and I have even befriended some sweet children of your land but I have not seen you. I don’t know what you look like. I have not played in your arms; still, I am curious about you. I am from the other side of the border, a child of the enemy as one would say, who simply wants to know what life looks like beyond these man-made borders.
How different or alike you are to your sibling, India and how do you keep up with your mehmaan-nawazi.
Dear Pakistan, will you welcome me, if I say I want to see what Hindustan looked like before I was born? Will your valleys embrace me when I come to see you? Will the Indus quench my thirst, just as Ganga does? Continue reading “A letter to Pakistan”→
Sameer is an architect. He had been in a few relationships before getting married. He recalls this one particularly abusive relationship which took a huge toll on his mental health.
“I was in a relationship with a guy who I met during my masters in Zurich. We had the same likes and dislikes and within the next few months, we were together.”
He says, “One day we went out to a party thrown by my friend. I am an extrovert, so I naturally started talking to guys around me. I talked to them, cracked some jokes. We came back to the dorm and to my surprise; my partner pushed me down on the floor. I could sense anger in his eyes. He held me by my collar and said, “Don’t you dare flirt with other guys!”
In the term LGBTQIA, letter A stands for Asexuality. A term that has been overlooked and misinterpreted while the people who fall under this spectrum have been subjected to ridicule and sneering. In a country where any kind of discourse & debate around sexual identities is still frowned upon, no wonder majority of us don’t understand asexuality.
As Astha stepped into the therapist’s office for the first time in her life, she was nervous and jittery. After a string of abusive relationships, she had finally gathered the courage to seek help. With hopes of feeling better and finding a solution to her many problems, Astha read some online reviews and zeroed in on a professional who met her criteria and budget. The one-hour session turned out to be an absolute disaster as Astha felt judged and not heard. Not only she didn’t feel better after the session, but she also experienced increased anxiety and despair. For the next couple of years, Astha would flinch even at the mention of getting any kind of psychological help.
‘The Manusmriti equates homosexual sex to a man having sex with a menstruating woman, or having sex during the day, and the punishment involves purification rites: bathing with clothes on, and fasting for a night, and eating specific cow milk and urine related products. Failure to purify can result in loss of caste. The crimes of heterosexual adultery and rape, and deflowering a virgin, have much higher fines and more intense purification rituals. (XI:175)’
I grew up in a highly privileged orthodox Bihari family with strict rules and stricter gender norms. At a very young age, I realized that something is ‘different’ about me. Homosexuality still remains a taboo topic in society, and thus it is no surprise that growing up gay has its own set of challenges which unfortunately is not acknowledged by the majority of people. Looking back to the earlier times and comparing it with today’s situation would be preposterous because even though the world is getting inclusive each passing day, the challenges of being a rainbow child in the family never get better. Decriminalization of section 377 in the year 2018 was a major step towards a positive change in the lives of the LGBTQ+ community but unfortunately does not ensure their safety and discrimination by the society which looks at them with utmost disgust and shame.