In present-day Pakistan, in the far corners of Lyari in Karachi, or Hingol in Balochistan, or Thatta in Sindh, tightly knit groups of women keep alive the folklore, songs and legends of Sati—their name for Sita in the Ramayana. The way they sustain the attendant rituals and practices in a nation state with a fixed idea of what constitutes citizenship and who gets to be a primary citizen is at the heart of this book. In Sita under the Crescent Moon, author Annie Ali Khan travels with women devotees—those without resources, subject to intense violence—who, through the bravest and simplest act, that of a pilgrimage, retrace what they remember of the goddess. Who are these pilgrims? How did this relationship with Sati start, and why is she so significant? How do their oral mytho-histories compare to colonial narratives or mainstream definitions of Sati? Even while retelling the stories of these pilgrims, Sita under the Crescent Moon studies how worship has altered the mores of a land—and how the sacral site, made up of clay and thread and tumble weed, grants a woman power to fight against her circumstances.
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