Memoirs of Padma Shree Rani Laxmi Kumari Chundawat
- JWB Post
- June 10, 2014
She was an elegant lady who loved to enjoy life and pour its colors down on paper.
We remember the Late Lakshmi Kumari Chundawat of Rawatsar Thikana. The elder daughter of Vijaysingh, the Rawat of Deogarh, one of the major Thikanas (estates) of the Princely State of Mewar in Rajasthan.
Laxmi Kumari Chundawat’s grand daughter-in-law, Mandavi Ranawat, shares her precious memories in an exclusive chat with JWB.
According to Mandvi, ‘Dadima’, as she fondly calls her, loved life. Mandvi shares when Dadima and her sister received their first pocket money, the latter bought jewellery – whereas dadima bought her first typewriter. She started writing and sending articles to various newspapers. It was the beginning of her love affair with the world of writing. She never attended a formal school yet she was able to achieve the Doctor of Literature. Chundawat authored a number of books in Hindi and Rajasthani including:
From Purdah to the people: Memoirs of Padma Shri Rani Laxmi Kumari Chundawat, Folklore of Rajasthan, Samskrtika Rajasthan, Mumal, Devnarayan Bagdawat Mahagatha, Lenin Ri Jeevani, Hindu Kush ke Us Paar, Shanti ke Liye Sangharsha, Antardhvani, Rajasthan ke Ritee Rivaj. Chundawat was awarded the worthy Padma Shri in 1984 for her contribution to Rajasthani literature.
She married Rawat Tej Singh of Rawatsar in 1934. Chundawat joined the Indian National Congress party and was a member of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly from 1962 to 1971 from Deogarh. She was the 1st female electorate from Deogarh and that too from Royal family!
In those times, only males of the family used to go out to vote. Laxmi Kumari asked her brothers: “When you do not allow your daughter-in-law to go out and vote, then how can I urge other women folk to vote for me.” That was the turning point when the royal ladies came out to vote which motivated village women to come out of ‘purdah’ and vote for her.
She literally endorsed women power. Her ideal was Indira Gandhi. She had kept Indira Gandhi’s photograph right in front of her bed and it was one of the first things she used to see soon after getting up in the morning. She was a member of Rajya Sabha from April 1972 to April 1978 and was also President of the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee. She had received many awards such as Sahitya Mahamahopadhyay, Rajasthan Ratna, Tessitory Gold Award, Maharana Kumbha Award, and the Soviet Land Nehru Award.
Mandvi remembers the day when she got married and became a part of the Rawatsar family. “Dadima made me feel like her own daughter. She never put down any dress codes or rules,” says Mandvi.
She continues: “According to Dadima, respect doesn’t come with a particular dress. Rather from within, as a result of your deeds. She wanted me to do something instead of sitting idle at home. When we decided to start heritage hotel ‘Dera Rawatsar’ in their Jaipur haveli, where her mother-in-law was already running a school, dadima found her an add-on to her happiness. She used to love meeting the guests and have interactive evenings with them.”
About one of the interesting events, Mandvi shares: “Once I opened the door of the car for her but she sat in the front seat and quipped – ‘I am like a man.’ She was a strong lady who in 2012 wrote that –“after my death, only perform tiye ki baithak, geeta path and hawan.” She wanted to break the shackles of social show-offs and extravaganzas. She loved being with people, her energy was inexhaustible, she was utterly disciplined, her routine was set by the clock and she had time for everything in her family. Her alarm clock, wrist watch and her purse with her personal diary were inseparable. She was the living example till her last breath of how to live one’s life. We all have learned many valuable and unforgettable things from her all these years.”
She lived the happy life and breathed her last on May 24, 2014, aged 97. Jaipur Women Blog salutes this legend, a proud mark in Indian women’s history.
By Ruby Khan,
Jaipur Women Blog Journalist