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3 Things We Learned At Festivelle, India’s First Ever Women-Only Festival

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On a couple of cool crisp days last December, women of a certain bent of mind showed up in numbers to attend India’s first women-only cultural event, Festivelle, in the city of Bombay (Mumbai.) The two-day crowd-sourced event had a full calendar of seminars and workshops, evenings of music and comedy, and great camaraderie. All with one aim in mind: To celebrate women.

As Festivelle co-founder Shruti Seth, a popular actor and VJ in India and an entrepreneur and mother, put it: “Women are basically the most heroic characters in all of history. Not only do we multi-task every single day, week after week, we also run multiple lives and somehow hold it all together. The only thing we tend to overlook is actually ourselves. It’s true – we need an official festival to remind us to unwind from chores. Festivelle is a reason to stop for a minute and take that breather which is only too well earned.”

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That’s something we at Zafigo certainly agree with! We attended the celebration and came away with these observations:

India is full of smart, dynamic, happy women who won’t wait in the shadows

It’s easy to forget just how many female entrepreneurs, businesswomen, revolutionaries and renegades there are in this country, from authors to self-educated divorce lawyers to production house owners and online business founders. They don’t necessarily struggle for social causes or noble agendas and maybe that’s why we don’t see them in the news, but they work hard and work smart for themselves, their own success and their own happiness – and we think there’s no cause more worthy than that!

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There is strength in numbers

We’re happy to set aside the misconception that women tear each other down at every opportunity that we get. We saw women applaud – loudly and raucously – for others who did what they themselves haven’t done yet. We heard appreciation and support and general curiosity about lives lived and paths walked differently. We witnessed strengths that met and multiplied, and then sat down for a glass of wine at the end of a long day.

That sometimes, even the most obvious wisdom needs to reiterated; what seemed to be a given on one topic of discussion could actually be life-changing for someone else in the room. Whether it’s about protecting one’s financial security or owning one’s right to enjoying better health and physicality, one woman’s throwaway advice was another’s gospel truth. It was a great reminder that even when encouragement seems unnecessary, it should be offered regardless because you never know who’s listening and who needs to hear it.

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(Indian) men are not the enemy

For a women-only festival, we were surprised at the sight of men in the crowd. But we soon realised that they were there in their capacity as shop owners, or set-up crew, or behind-the-scene volunteers. They didn’t come in the way of anybody’s enjoyment and their presence only served to make the event run smoother and safer, as was demanded of their professional capabilities. Chivalry doesn’t undermine us, it respects us. We’re all for that!

Here are some highlights from the 2-day Festivelle event:

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AditiDatta_100x100
Nothing makes Aditi happier than good shampoo, good design, evolutionary theory and a spicy Bloody Mary. A Bombay girl to begin with, she’s made a home in New York, Glasgow, Singapore and London over the last ten years. After a one-day career in hand modelling (true story) and a much, much longer stint in brands & advertising, Aditi is all set to make the most of her Delhi/NCR chapter. Aditi is the Delhi Editor for Zafigo and her writing has appeared in Little Black Book Delhi, Travel+Leisure and Huffington Post.

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