What if you had a friend, same gender as your partner, with whom you shared things that are generally considered intimate? Does that fall under emotional infidelity? While we say untouchability is no longer practised in the country, would we share a meal with our house help on the dining table in the house? How about young fathers who just want to be stay-at-home dads? Do they not get bombarded with questions? Would we rent out our house to an inter-faith couple?
These and more are the topics that a bunch of panelists will discuss at the Sathyam Cinemas in Chennai on March 2, Saturday.
Taboo is a platform, specially curated by Aura, an event management establishment, in partnership with Success Gyan, that will allow discussions on topics that are generally stigmatised in our societies, ranging from menstruation to homophobia, from modern-day untouchability to marital rape. There will be also be a discussion on mental health issues, though the name of the discussion 'Mental aa', seems ill-suited.
The event, as the organisers put it, is a safe space to ‘speak the unspoken’. Aarti Madusdan, one of the curators of the event says, “We picked topics on the basis that they would resonate with most of us. We don’t necessarily vocalise all of our thoughts. There’s absolutely no judging, no right or wrong here. We just want to put it out there saying, ‘hey, there are different points of views, let’s talk about them.’”
Aura’s CEO Siddharth Ganeriwala, shares that he has always been plagued by why society meanders its way around certain topics instead of being open by them. “Coming from a conservative Marwadi family, I have seen woman in my house not entering the kitchen or places of worship while on their period. While this might be common in most households, based on beliefs, I was surprised as to why it was a hushed topic. It shouldn’t be so,” he begins.
Siddharth further adds that it was this though process lead to the idea of Taboo. “We had our first event in Colombo in January 25 this year. The response was brilliant, over 1000 people attended,” says Siddharth. Some of the Taboo topics that Colombo opened up to were ‘Ending Corporal Punishment: How and Why’, ‘Flying The Rainbow Flag: Panel Discussion on the Legalization of Homosexuality’, ‘Wrap-it-up: Discussion on Contraception & Pre-marital Sex’ amongst others.
The panels too are made up of a diverse mix of speakers explains Aarti. “For instance, for the topic called Bleeding Ban in Chennai we have a young speaker like Nanditha Hariharan and also someone like Dushyant Sridhar who speaks with his knowledge from the scriptures. Similarly for the topic on Stay at home dads we have one father who is at home taking care of his child and also a woman whose husband is a stay-at-home-dad. The idea is to get an understanding of both sides. We want to diversify our panels as much as possible.”
The organisers also tell us the sessions will also have ‘fishbowl conversations’ where one person from the audience will be invited up on stage to join the panelists and share their views on the topic.
Taboo in Chennai will discuss Homophobia in organisations, stereotyping kids, live-in relationships, virtual identity vs real identity, and more. Siddharth tells us the topics were specifically selected for Chennai, to suit its audiences. “In Colombo we did have a few similar topics but the idea is to curate content based on demography. We also wanted to include a session on premarital sex in Chennai and while we did have psychologists and other experts who can talk on this topic, we didn’t get the right amount of speakers. We hope to bring it back in the next edition,” he shares.
With as many as 50 speakers, has a varied mix of 12 topics that’ll progress simultaneously in three different cinema halls inside Sathyam - Season, 6 Degrees and Serene on March 3 from 9.30 am to 1.30 pm. To know more, you can check out their Facebook page here.