Know Yourself: a Darpan Program

“Darpan” means mirror or reflection, and the Darpan Program is the artisans’ opportunity to look at different aspects of their lives to find ways to lead happier healthier lives. In the past, Darpan has covered health issues, such as surveys that led to scheduling eye-check-ups and yoga sessions.

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In a recent series of sessions, “Know Yourself,” each artisan was challenged to re-think traditions and her role in her family. The exercises and discussions caused many women to have “Eureka” moments as they came to view themselves in a whole new light.

During the first session, the women were asked to draw a picture of “an important person” in their families.

Vaishali Adkar (WARE Collective) noticed, “The majority of us made drawings of our children and husband. But we ourselves were absent from that drawing. I came to understand that our family starts with us.”

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From the subsequent discussions, others came to realize that they should pay more attention to their own needs.

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Savita Singh (Ghar Udyog Collective) shared, “From morning to night I look after my family and do not think about myself. After this session, I realize that I have to give myself time and look after my health in order to keep my family happy.”

Memooda Sheikh (Nirman Collective) agreed: “Sometimes I do not eat right because I am so busy looking after my family. I realize now that if I don’t take care of myself, too, I could get sick.”

In another meeting, the artisans were blindfolded one at a time and asked to do random movements such as taking 10 steps or jumping on one foot. Then they were asked why they were following these commands. The ensuing conversation dealt with the idea of questioning traditions and asking why some things are done the way they are.

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“We never question traditions and maybe at one time they were good but now they have no purpose,” concluded Seema Varma (Sahara Collective).

Applying the lesson to her own life, she continued, “These days, when we have jobs, the women cannot do all the housework, too.”

In the final exercise, the women were given leaves from a variety of plants and trees. First, they were paired off and asked to find and talk about the differences in their leaves. Then all the leaves were mixed together in a basket and the women had to find “their” leaves in the pile.

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Kusumlatha Singh realized, “Since we had spent time discussing the color, shape, and design on the leaves, we were able to find ours. But the main lesson from this was that each of us has special and different qualities.”

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Overall the women found that going through these exercises and talking about their thoughts was an amazing experience. It gave them a lot of insight into themselves and their world.

Meena Gupta (Sahara Collective) summed up this latest Darpan program: “My responsibilities in my family have stopped me from thinking about who I am. This session has started me thinking about my own identity.”

9 comments

  1. As I was looking at the picture of the women searching for their own leaves, I said to myself, “Look at all those Indian ladies!” I hope no one will think this is somehow criticism; I hope it will be taken for an affectionate comment on seeing this group having fun together as they think about their lives. That is how I intended it and not as any kind of put-down. They are all beautiful.

    1. Hi, Karen — thank you for the hugs! We are sending hugs back to you right now.
      Thank you for taking the time to let us know how the Darpan Program story has touched you. We are hoping that the stressful things work out simply and positively for you and that the Darpan Program article helps make that happen. Take good care of yourself. Go find your leaf.

  2. This is so inspirational and timely, what a gift to all women of the world, to step into our empowered selves with sovereignty and love.

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