Raqqasa Hun ..
Join me in a 2-hour immersive story-telling session about the lives and times of Raqqasas or Courtesans.
Unfortunately, in the din surrounding the Mughal Emperors and their Empires, the voices of the Delhi courtesans have got lost.
This story-telling session will try to retrieve the lost ground and present a fresh perspective on the lives of those unfortunate women.
The courtesans weren't women of easy virtue. On the other hand, these ladies were a highly cultured lot and many a King and Prince used to come to them for learning culture and refinement.
The Chawri Bazar of Delhi was a major center of Delhi's courtesans.
Some of the more ambitious courtesans went on to become the Queens of the Mughal Empire such as Qudasia Begum and Lal Kunwar.
Then there was Anarkali, who, though not a courtesan, was a famous court dancer in the court of Akbar.
Perhaps many of us do not know that the first love of Shahjahan was not Mumtaz Mahal, but an unknown courtesan. His elder son was also besotted by an Agra-based courtesan whom he wanted to marry her. Alas, that marriage could not happen.
In modern times, at the turn of the last century, courtesans used to look down upon acting as a lowly profession. Who can forget the humiliation that Dada Saheb Phalke suffered at the hands of a courtesan when the latter turned down a role in India's first film, Raja Harishchandra.
It was during the British rule when many courtesans took to prostitution to meet both the ends. They were later known as Randees. One of the British officers of the city later shifted these sex workers to the present GB Road area (near The New Delhi Railway Station).
Interesting isn't it? But, nevertheless it is a sad story of the degradation of the Delhi Raqqasas.
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