Virtual Thaal Pe Charcha goes pan India

Sahiyo held an online Thaal Pe Charcha (TPC), which loosely translates as “discussions over food,” on October 31st. TPC is a flagship Sahiyo program typically held in person, but was conducted online due to safety during the pandemic.

The current COVID-19 situation may have restricted this TPC to a virtual interaction and taken away the joy of relishing traditional Bohra cuisine. However, participants were satiated with the conversations that unfolded over the 2-hour program, and as noted by one participant, provided enough food for thought to go around at this event.

The program lead and Sahiyo co-founder, Insia Dariwala, successfully incorporated creative activities so that participants could connect and bond with each other. Over the last three years, TPC has seen a lot of growth, and this was the first ever TPC where participants joined in from various cities in India, including Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pune.

The success of any program lies in its ability to create sustainability and leadership. This was remarkably displayed by one of Sahiyo’s volunteers, Jumana, who under the guidance of Dariwala and Chandni Shiyal, independently organised and hosted TPC from her residence in Ahmedabad. 

The camaraderie between the participants was commendable, and it was heartening to see total strangers holding space for each other, and bonding over the shared pain of female genital cutting (FGC). Some of these women had never shared their stories with anyone, and needless to say, it was a catharsis for many. 

Other discussions also included male versus female circumcision, its relevance, consent of the child, and also medicalization of FGC. The event ended with many expressing a desire to host TPC in their own hometowns, and creating more opportunities to continue discussions on this topic.

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