Sanjay Tomar's tribute to independence activist and feminist, Prabhavati Devi Narayan is a celebration of her courage and unwavering commitment to women's rights. The collection of photographs represents the very essence of her activism, capturing the solemnity and sacrifice of her vow of celibacy. The stark emptiness of the room and the absence of any adornment or decoration are a reflection of the austerity and dedication that she brought to her cause.
Born in 1906 to a family of distinguished lawyers, Prabhavati Devi Narayan dedicated her life to social reform. At the tender age of 16, she married social reformer and activist Jayaprakash Narayan. When he left for the United States to study Marxism, Prabhavati sought purpose at the Sabarmati Ashram; it was there that she formed close ties with the Gandhis and committed herself to the cause of women's empowerment and autonomy.
Prabhavati Devi Narayan's vow of celibacy and her husband's agreement to hold off on having children until India gained independence was a testament to their unwavering commitment to the cause. The photoseries features a woman's back towards the camera, with her long braid adorned with the quintessential gajra. The empty room and unmarked bed signify her oath of celibacy, which she took to dedicate herself to her cause and further inspired many others to follow in her footsteps, making her a true icon of women's empowerment. The photographs are simple yet powerful, conveying the message of dedication and sacrifice that defined her life.
Sanjay Tomar’s photoseries not only captures the essence of Prabhavati Devi Narayan's life and work but also serves as a homage to the countless women who fought for Indian independence and the empowerment of women as a whole. Her legacy lives on and her work continues to inspire and empower women across India and beyond.
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