Category Archives: Culture and History

Dona Juliana: A Forgotten Christian in Mughal Harem

-By Shivam Pathak

14th Century marked the advent of Portuguese in the Indian Subcontinent. Portuguese trade and commerce were flourishing in India because they were the first among other European nations who first discovered a direct sea route to India. The advent of Portuguese in India also laid the foundation stone of overseas romance in the exuberant peninsular region in south-central Asia. During 17th and 18th century Mughal Empire was started losing hold on the Indian peninsula because of the surging British extension on the landscape. Shah Alam also known as Bahadur Shah First ascended himself on the peacock throne of Delhi Sultanate after a vigorous fight with his father Auranzeb for his succession on the throne. Among the supporters of Shah Alam was a Portuguese Woman named Dona Juliana. She served the future king Shah Alam faithfully when the latter was in captivity after rebelling against his father. When Shah Alam was proclaimed King Juliana becomes his wife and her rank was above all the nobles in the court. It was believed that whenever Juliana would ride, she was escorted by five or six thousand men on foot. According to Italian Jesuit Ippolito Desideri, Juliana’s influence was so extraordinary on Shah Alam that she brought him to the brink of Baptism. The latter would kneel before Jesus in the prayer and send blessings to churches, and it was gossiped that he had become Christian on his deathbed. Her firm presence can be noticed in the Mughal court from one more instance when she persuaded the king to declare Surat a duty free port for the Portuguese because it was an important port in respect of trade and the emperor done so for her.With the course of time she was christened as “Bibi Juliana”. She was also conferred with several other titles such as “Fidavi Bahadur Shah Juliana” (Juliana, loyal servant of Bahadur Shah). Desideri also referred Juliana’s position in the moughal household (Harem) as a significant one. Dona Juliana throughout her life maintained diplomatic relations with Europeans, especially the Estado de Portugal. She can not only be identified as a diplomat, but also as a proxy for the Jesuit spiritual mission in India. It’s very important to observe that her influence wasn’t faded after Shah Alam’s death, but advanced even after his death. According to an Article written by historian William Irvine in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Bibi Juliana died at the age of 75 in the year 1734. Likewise Moughal sources like “Tarikh-i-Muhammadi”, documented that a firangi woman who was dearest to the Late Bahadur Shah first, died in Delhi in 1734. Consequently Dona Juliana Diaz da Costa was a Portuguese woman whose credentials marked immense accomplishments in terms of enormous power and influence at the court of the Moughal king, Shah Alam. History can never consign to oblivion the memory of Juliana, whose existence was absolute in her own being.

Julianna Dias Costa

Sources of information used in this article are- Piece of Dr, Taymiya R. Zaman’s writing on the website of the University of San Francisco, Pankaj Vohra’s article “Juliana:The Mughal Princess from Portugal” in the Sunday Guardian and the article “Note on Bibi Juliana and the Christians at Agra”  by historian William Irvine, published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.


Caste System: The sociology of Indian Society

by: Kashish Bohra

Indian society is divided into various sects and classes. This is because of the caste system which is prevalent in the country. The roots of the caste system go back to the ancient Vedas dividing people on the basis of occupation. It has brought many evils in society. The Government is constantly striving to overcome the harms of the system and bring about true equality among the people.

Caste System in India

Caste System in India
Caste System in India

The caste system is the bane for Indian society. It divides the Indian society into sectarian groups and classes. Even today, it plays a predominant role in our society despite the growth of culture and civilization.

  • The terms ‘Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes’ (SC/ST) are the official terms used in government documents to identify former untouchables and tribes. However, in 2008 the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, noticing that the word ‘Dalit’ was used interchangeably with the official term ‘Scheduled Castes’, asked the State Governments to end the use of the word ‘Dalit’ in official documents by calling the term ‘unconstitutional’ and to replace it with the term ‘Scheduled Caste’ instead.
  • The roots of the caste system are traced back to the ancient ages. While one view discriminates between the castes as upper and lower castes on the basis of their origin, another view traces the origin of the castes to which classifies the caste system on the basis of their functions. Since then, it was found that undue advantage was taken by the section of people having an upper hand and a say in the community, leading to discrimination and exploitation of the weaker sections of the community.
  • The people from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, referred to as ‘untouchables’ form one-sixth of India’s population or 160 million; they endure discrimination and segregation.


Evil faces of this system


Many villages are separated by caste and they may not cross the line dividing them from the higher castes. They also may not use the same wells or drink in the same tea stalls as higher castes.


They often do not have the facility to electricity, sanitation facilities, or water pumps in lower caste neighborhoods. Access to better education, housing and medical facilities than that of the higher castes is denied.

Division of labour

They are restricted to certain occupations like sanitation work, plantation work, leather works, cleaning streets, etc.


They are subjected to exploitation in the name of debt, tradition, etc., to work as labourers or perform menial tasks for generations together.

Government Initiatives

The Indian Government has enacted laws to remove untouchability and has also brought in many reforms to improve the quality of life for the weaker sections of society. Few among them are:

  • Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human rights
  • Abolition of ‘ untouchability’ in 1950
  • Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
  • Provision of reservation in places like educational institutions, employment opportunities, etc.
  • Establishing social welfare departments and national commissions for the welfare of scheduled castes and tribes

These measures adopted by the government have brought some relief to the weaker sections of society. The urban areas have shown a good amount of impact and some improvement. However, people in rural areas and villages still face extreme discrimination. We indeed have a long way to go in achieving the objectives set to eradicate and abolish discrimination, on the basis of caste and creed. It now depends on our efforts and a change in our mindset is sure to see a perpetual change, bringing about equality for all.

Right to Equality

The fundamental fights are guaranteed to protect the basic human rights of all citizens of India and are put into effect by the courts, subject to some limitations. One of such fundamental rights is the Right to Equality. Right to Equality refers to equality in the eyes of law, discarding any unfairness on grounds of caste, race, religion, place of birth sex. It also includes equality of prospects in matters of employment, the abolition of untouchability, and abolition of titles. Articles 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 of the Constitution of India highlight the Right to Equality in detail. This fundamental right is the major foundation of all other rights and privileges granted to Indian citizens. It is one of the chief guarantees of the Constitution of India. Thus, it is imperative that every citizen of India has easy access to the courts to exercise his/her Right to Equality.


Various articles under the Right to Equality are explained as follows:

Equality Before Law

Equality before the law is well defined under Article 14 of the Constitution which ensures that every citizen shall be likewise protected by the laws of the country. It means that the State will not distinguish any of the Indian citizens on the basis of their gender, caste, creed, religion or even the place of birth. The state cannot refuse equality before the law and equal defense of the law to any person within the territory of India. In other words, this means that no person or group of people can demand any special privileges. This right not only applies to the citizens of India but also to all the people within the territory of India.

Social Equality and Equal Access to Public Areas

The right of Social Equality and Equal Access to Public Areas is clearly mentioned under Article 15 of the Constitution of India stating that no person shall be shown favoritism on the basis of color, caste, creed language, etc. Every person shall have equal admittance to public places like public wells, bathing Ghats, museums, temples etc. However, the State has the right to make any special arrangement for women and children or for the development of any socially or educationally backward class or scheduled castes or scheduled tribes. This article applies only to citizens of India.

Equality in Matters of Public Employment

Article 16 of the Constitution of India clearly mentions that the State shall treat everyone equally in matters of employment. No citizen shall be discriminated on the basis of race, caste, religion, creed, descent or place of birth in respect of any employment or office under the State. Every citizen of India can apply for government jobs. However, there are some exceptions to this right. The Parliament may pass a law mentioning that specific jobs can only be filled by candidates who are residing in a particular area. This requirement is mainly for those posts that necessitate the knowledge of the locality and language of the area.

Apart from this, the State may also set aside some posts for members of backward classes, scheduled castes or scheduled tribes which are not properly represented in the services under the State to uplift the weaker sections of the society. Also, a law may be passed which may entail that the holder of an office of any religious institution shall also be a person professing that specific religion. Though, this right shall not be granted to the overseas citizens of India as directed by the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2003.

Abolition of Untouchability

Article 17 of the Constitution of India abolishes the practice of untouchability in India. The practice of untouchability is declared as a crime and anyone doing so is punishable by law. The Untouchability Offences Act of 1955 (and now Protection of Civil Rights Act in 1976) states punishments for not allowing a person to enter a place of worship or from taking water from a well or tank.

Abolition of Titles

Article 18 of the Constitution of India prohibits the State from granting any titles. Citizens of India are not allowed to accept titles from a foreign State. Titles like Rai Bahadurs and Khan Bahadurs are given by the British government have also been abolished. Nevertheless, academic and military distinctions can be conferred upon the citizens of India. The awards of ‘Bharat Ratna’ and ‘Padma Vibhushan’ cannot be used by the beneficiary as a title and is not prohibited by the Constitution of India. From 15 December 1995, the Supreme Court has sustained the validity of such awards.

To conclude, the ‘Right to Equality’ should not only remain on papers. This right should be properly exercised; otherwise, it will lose its essence if all the citizens of India, especially the weaker and backward classes do not have equal rights and equality before the law.

Disrespect, not Dress, does it – The increasing rape cases are a serious concern for mankind

By- Ekta Sain

Looking at the current state it looks like after some time we will be living in a country where we won’t be giving birth to a human, we will give birth to a human who is worse than an animal. This nation is becoming unsafe not for only girls but also for boys. Not only streets, roads or workplace but our homes are becoming dangerous for us.

Every year there are many cases of molestation and rape came across. Some are registered, some not. Why are these happening in our country? Why are these molesters or rapists moving freely?


According to the Indian Constitution, the definition of Rape is “when a man forcibly does any sexual activity with women then it is considered as rape.” They never recognized that a man can also be raped.

According to a study conducted by NDTL on an average of 8 women get molested every day in India. But the research of the Centre for Civil Society says that the victims of assault are 57.3% males and 42.7% females. In such cases, family members of female victims avoid disclosure and maintain the confidentiality of the victim and sometimes they complain about the crime. But when it comes to males being a victim for sexual molestation, they don’t get reported for it. It is a myth in our society that boys cannot cry in front of everyone they have to be mentally strong. This myth stops boys from confessing their molestation.

Men believe this myth and feel lots of guilt and shame because they got physically aroused during the abuse. It is important to understand that males can respond to sexual stimulation with an erection or even an orgasm – even in sexual situations that are traumatic or painful. That’s just how male bodies and brains work. Those who sexually use and abuse boys know this. They often attempt to maintain secrecy and to keep the abuse going, by telling the child that his sexual response shows he was a willing participant and complicit in the abuse. “You wanted it. You liked it,” they say.

But that doesn’t make it true. Boys are not seeking to be sexually abused or exploited. They can, however, be manipulated into experiences they do not like, or even understand, at the time

There are many situations where a boy, after being gradually manipulated with attention, affection and gifts, feels like he wants such attention and sexual experiences. In an otherwise lonely life (for example, one lacking in parental attention or affection – even for a brief period), the attention and pleasure of sexual contact from someone the boy admires can feel good.

But in reality, it’s still about a boy who was vulnerable to manipulation. It’s still about a boy who was betrayed by someone who selfishly exploited the boy’s needs for attention and affection to use him sexually

There was a study conducted by a research scholar of Babu Banarsi Das University Lucknow in which she described myths related to rape cases. According to her,  “rape myths exist for a number of historical and cultural reasons including gender role expectations, acceptance of violence and misinformation about sexual assault and they are the one reason why victims are shamed into remaining silent.”

According to this research, the reason why rapes are happening is women are dressing provocatively and that turns out as a problem for her. This is believed by 45% of individuals. Many of them blame the girls who drink. According to them if a girl drinks then she deserves to be raped. Another reason for rape is a girl in the relationship and some blamed the girls who stay outside late at night.

Till when we only ask our girls to hide their beauty and innocence can’t we ask boys to control and behave themselves? If these cases were not taken seriously in our country then it is natural that after some time we won’t find a road where girls will walk freely, it will be hard to find a home where they could live freely.

Cultural heritage of gujrat-patolas

By :- Raaisha Upadhyay

We all know the place Hastinapur and a case of Draupadi(the woman epitome of feminism) the wife of  Pandavas and a dice game against Kauravas, which was responsible for Draupadi’s humiliation

The magical dice was rolled by shakuni  and Pandavas lose and Draupadi has been won by Kauravas.

And from here technically Kauravas owned Draupadi ,

they order Dushasana to disrobe Draupadi in public and from here a miracle take place.

No  matter how much Dushasana tries to take a cloth but never ending cloth continue to cover and protect Draupadi.

The cloth that covered Draupadi was a saree.

This miracle happened just because of Lord Krishna.

The Ancient kingdom of  Krishna’s is Dwarka (the home of Krishna is a gateway to heaven and an underwater city)which is located in the state of Gujarat.

Gujarat is also famous  for their Patola sarees.

Patola is double ikat woven silk saree once worn only by those belonging to Royal and aristocratic families, as they are very expensive The sarees takes around 6 months to 1 year in manufacturing. one saree due to long process of dying it strand separately. The starting price of Patola sarees is 1lakh to 7 lakh.

Patola usually woven in Surat, Ahmedabad and Patan but velvet Patola style are majorly made in Surat.

Patan, the house of Patola, is 125 kms away from Ahmedabad. The town is also famous for ‘Rani –ki Vav’, a step-well made by a queen in honour of her husband. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

About 900 years ago in 1143 A.D., around 700 craftsmen from the Salvi community hailing from modern day Karnataka and Maharashtra were brought by king Kumarpal of the Solanki dynasty (who then ruled Gujarat, parts of Rajasthan and Malwa) to his court, in his kingdom’s capital, Patan. These craftsmen lived in Jalna, situated in southern Maharashtra, and were considered to be the finest craftsmen of Patola.

Patola in modern day India…

Patola is undoubtedly the epitome of fine craftsmanship. Today, only 2-3 families, the Salvis and Sonis, practise this 900 year old craft in Patan. These families aren’t very open about the process of forging Patola. Only the family members, and in some cases only the male family members, are passed down this knowledge. Nobody from outside the community is admitted into craftsmanship.

However, in the past few years, the Sonis have loosened their boundaries and started passing this craft to people outside of their family who are hardworking, dedicated and passionate towards the craft. This change of attitude is because of the fear of Patola becoming extinct.

A weaver giving life to a Patola sari. 

The current state of this art is alarming. Some Patola weavers have predicted that the art will vanish within the next 20 years or so. Lack of investment, fewer weavers, and dis-interest on the part of the younger generation of weaving families are reasons for such a prediction. Also cheap imitations are capturing the market.

A Woman Who Shaped History in her Own Right.

– By Shivam Pathak
There is this fallacy that women are incompetent to change the course of the future because of this fallacy women’s credentials are always being questioned. This mistaken belief doesn’t emerge recently it took its roots long back in history when women were only considered as an object of sexual pleasure and delight, but just as in today’s gelation there were also some women in history who proved this fallacy a misconception. One among the mighty and intelligent women who made history by exemplifying their remarkable achievements was Wu Zetian, a woman who rose from a lowly concubine to become the emperor of China. The only female emperor in Chinese 2000 years of imperial history who ruled China with an iron fist. Here a question may arise in your mind that how a woman elevates her status from a mere concubine to the emperor of China. It all commenced way back 637 AD when Wu entered the imperial court as a 14-year-old concubine serving emperor Taizong.wuzetian3
Emperor had more than 100 concubines, but somehow one way or the other Wu paved her route to the emperor’s heart and quickly gained favours of the emperor. Her ambition to become the emperor of China was very clear from the beginning. An instance to support this narrative was that when Lady Yang ( Wu Zetian’s mother) wept bitterly at the time of parting from her daughter Wu, Wu responded ‘ How do you know that it is not my fortune to meet the son of heaven ( title given to the monarch of China). Lady Yang as reported then understood her desire and therefore stopped crying. Traditional folklore portrays Wu as a power-hungry woman with no care for who she hurt or what she did. But early excavations discovered something different that determined traditional folklore wrong about Wu’s reign and the reflections of her characteristics. In excavations, archaeologists found a skeleton of a woman with fabled Phoenix crown of ancient china. The name of that was Li Chua, she was a minor descendent of Wu Zetian who wore the opulent crown embedded with carnelian from Uzbekistan, garnet from India, amber from Iran and ivory from Sri Lanka. This shows that how luxurious life was in Wu’s reign as the emperor.
Her period marked a major expansion of the Chinese empire, extending it far beyond from its previous territorial limits. After Taizong’s death she assumed some level of power in her hand and became the second wife of his son emperor Gaozong. But after Gaozong’s death in 660, Wu became the administrator of the court, a position equal to the emperor’s until 70s. Wu Zetian was not only a national leader, but she was also an international leader. Historical pieces of evidence suggests that she shared a good relationship with foreign countries and she also had ambassadors from Mongolia, Korea, Greece and Persia. Daming palace made under her reign was the largest in the world. It is assumed to be five times bigger than the Forbidden city. Jaws of the emissaries were dropped at the first sight of the palace which shows the imperial grandeur of Wu’s capital Chang’an ( today is known as Xi an). She encouraged women to be entrepreneurs and to divorce and marry freely. She even appointed a female prime minister.
As Wu Zetian grew older her mind started turning towards her afterlife, she want forgiveness for her sins she had committed throughout her life. She wrote a confession that had been engraved on a golden tablet and have that tablet taken to a holy place to perform a sacred ritual. She then cast down the tablet from Mount Song in order to attain forgiveness for her doings. Wu Zetian died in 705 and was buried at the east of the phoenix gate within the Qianling Mausoleum. The Mausoleum not only housed the remains of Emperor Wu, but is also served as the epitome of the imperial splendour, high rank and social importance of Wu Zetian. Wu may be regarded by the chronicles as the ruthless in her endeavours to grab power, but there is no doubt that she left her legacy that even in yore times a woman could do everything a man could do. In Wu’s reign, women’s status was higher than ever before. Consequently, Wu Zetian was an extraordinary woman, attractive in appearance, exceptionally gifted political astute and an excellent judge of men.