Friday, January 2, 2009

Intensive Training Programme of Young Dalit Christian Women Leaders

Intensive Training Programme of Young Dalit Christian Women Leaders

27th -30th, December 2008
Indian Social Institute, 24 Benson Road, Bangalore

Organised by Pennamma Bhavanam, Tiruvalla in association with the Just and Inclusive Communities Programme of the World Council of Churches

The programme aimed at equipping a selected group of young dalit Christian women leaders from South India to bear Christian witness in their different spheres of engagement and thereby influencing the dalit discourse. It seems that the workshop was the first of its kind in India.

The programme consisted of a four-day long intensive training workshop for twenty selected young dalit Christian women from different regions of South India. The participants were theology students, professionals and college students. The workshop intended to strengthen their capabilities for social analysis and theological reflections on contemporary dalit realities. The sessions in the programme were supposed to enable the participants to perform the caste-gender-class analysis to understand and engage effectively in their local contexts. The recent theoretical developments in dalit feminism were discussed and different facets of dalit womanist theology were introduced in the sessions. There were also interactive bible study sessions which aimed at helping the participants to interpret bible in response to the question of dalit women’s experiences and struggles. The discussions on understanding and theoretically situating the autobiographical narratives of dalit women inspired the participants further to engage creatively with dalit women’s faith affirmations and political assertions. The session on body and sexuality aimed at helping the participants to understand and assert themselves. Most of the sessions where participatory in nature.

The schedule was the following:
27 Saturday
05.30–09.00 am: Arrival
10.00–10.30 am: Singing and Opening Worship
10.45–12.30 am:
Inaugural session
Introduction to the programme: Shiju Sam Varughese
Inauguration & Keynote Address: Ms. Shanti Jagan, Thirupur (Veteran Dalit Woman
Activist and Director, World Society)
Felicitation: Mr. Philip Peacock (Professor, Bishop’s College, Kolkotha)
Concluding Remarks and Vote of Thanks: Ms. Praveena K.P.
2.00–2.30 pm: Ice Breaking: Mr. Jobi Mathew & Ms. Praveena K.P.
2.30–4.30 pm: The Dynamics of Class, Caste and Gender in the
Context of Dalit struggles: Rev. Prof. Adlin Reginabai (Professor, Tamilnadu
Theological Seminary, Madurai)
28 Sunday
7.15–7.45 am: Singing and Worship: Students from Gurukul Lutheran Theological
College and Research Institute, Chennai
8.15–9.15 am: Bible Study I: Rev. Jayachithra L., (Tamilnadu Theological Seminary, Madurai)
9.30–12.30 am: Re-imagining Feminism and Feminist Theology from Dalit
Women’s Perspective: Dr. Sr. Shalini Mulackal (Professor, Vidyajyoti, New Delhi)
2.30–7.00 pm: Understanding Our Body and Sexuality: Dr. Veda Zachariah &
Mrs. Lakshmi Krishnamurthi (Bangalore)
9 Monday
7.15–7.45 am: Singing and Worship: Students from Tamilnadu Theological Seminary, Madurai
7.00–8.00 am: Bible Study II: Rev. Jayachithra L.
09.30–12.30 pm: Dalit Womanist Theological Perspectives on Violence, Suffering and Cross
Documentary Show on Orissa Attack on Minorities
Presentation 1: Minority attacks in Orissa: Mr. Philip Vinod Peacock
Presentation II: Violence on Women: Ms. Belinda Praisy (Gurukul, Chennai)
2.00–4.00 pm: Towards a Dalit Feminist Theology: Ms. N. Prasuna
(Professor, Indian Theological Seminary, Chennai)
4.30–6.00 pm: Caste, Gender and Development in the Context of Globalisation: Dr. Babu
Sundara (New Delhi)
6.15-7.30 pm: Globalisation and its Challenges to Dalits: Dr. John Mohan Razu
(Professor, UTC Bangalore)
10.00– 12.00 pm: Cultural Expressions of the Participants
30 Tuesday
7.15–7.45 am: Singing and Worship: Students from Kerala
8.15–9.15 am: Bible Study III: Rev. Jayachithra L.
9.30–10.00: Singing
10.00–12.30 pm: Significance of Dalit Women’s Autobiographies for Dalit
Women’s Praxis: Dr. Suma B.U. (Dalit womanist writer and researcher)
1.45–3.30 pm: Evaluation and Concluding Worship: Mr. Philip Vinod Peacocke
Concluding Remarks: Rev. Dr. Evangeline Rajkumar Anderson
(Professor, UTC Bangalore)


A Preparatory Meeting was organised at Pennamma Bhavanam on 22 december 2008 for the participants from Kerala. Ms Praveena K.P. and Mr. Jobi Mathew (young dalit research scholars and activists) led the sessions. The main objective of the session was to orient the participants from kerala towards the programme. The get together and the presentations helped the participants to share their dalit womanist experiences.

Ms. Shanti Jagan from Thruppattur inaugurated the programme and delivered the key note address. In her lecture, she narrated her struggle as a grass root activist and one of the first dalit woman panchayat presidents in India. Rev Dr. Adlin Regina Bai presided over the session. Ms. Christina translated her lecture.

Mr. Philip Vinod Peacock (dalit theologian from Bishop's College, Calcutta), in his felicitation address emphasised the siginificance of the programme. He also presented a paper in the conference on violence in Orissa against dalit christians. Mr. Peacoke led the concluding worship too.

Ms. Praveena giving vote of thanks in the inaugural session

Ice Breaking: Mr. Jobi Mathew


Every day the worship was followed by bible study led by Rev. Jayachitra L. (TTS, Madurai).
Rev. Dr. Adlin Regina Bai (Professor, TTS, Madurai) presented the paper on "The Dynamics of Class, Caste and Gender in the Context of Dalit Struggles"

Dr. Sr. Shalini Mulackal (Professor, Vidyajyoti, New Delhi)'s presentation was titled, " Re-imagining Feminism and Feminist Theology from Dalit Women's Perspective". In her presentation she introduced the DALIT PENN THEOLOGY as a standpoint theology emerging out of the expereicences of the dalit women.


Ms. Belinda Praisy, B.D. Student from the Gurukul Lutheran Theological College, Chennai presented a paper on "Dalit Womanist Theological Perspectives on Violence, Suffering and Cross".

Dr. Prasunna N.'s paper was titled, "Towards Dalit Feminist Theology: Re-Visiting the Image of God"

Dr. Sundara Babu talked on "caste, gender and development in the context of conflict resolution and nationalisms"

Dr. John Mohan Razu (Professor, UTC, Bangalore): 'Globalisation and Its Challenges to Dalits'
group discussion
There were post-dinner sessions of laughter and merry making.
Ms. Jane Anita Elavarasi (participant from Gurukul, Chennai)'s jokes in the cultural night were enjoyed by everybody.
A theatrical performance by the praticipants from TTS, Madurai

Prof. Dr. Suma B.U. introduced the significance of dalit women's autobiographies

Rev. Dr. Evangaline Rajkumar Anderson (Professor, UTC, Bangalore)

Participants with organisers and resource persons
The report and some of the papers of the workshop are published in the Ecumenical Horizon journal (Vol. 2/No. 1, December 2008-January 2009) of Kerala Council of Churches.

We thank all those who helped us to make this programme a great success.

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