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  • Writer's picturePriyadarshini Panchapakesan

UNESCO Sahapedia Research Fellowship

In 2020, my friends persuaded me to apply for the UNESCO Sahapedia Research Fellowship. After procrastinating for the first few days, I decided to submit a proposal on Oppari or Lament Songs in Tamil Nadu.


I chose to work on Lament Songs because I wanted to break the stigma that surrounded Oppari Singers, who primarily performed during funerals . But going beyond this, I also wanted to explore how Oppari was historically used by women as a channel of subservience and resistance to caste and patriarchy.


I was selected for the fellowship and began my research in August 2020. Out of 800 applicants across the country, only few of us were chosen to do the fellowship in English. I was elated, not only because I got an opportunity to publish my work with UNESCO but also because I could share a little bit about Tamil Nadu's marginalized traditions with the rest of the world.


My essay titled "Songs of Resistance: Overview of Oppari Songs in Tamil Nadu" can be accessed on this link:


https://map.sahapedia.org/search/article/Songs%20of%20Resistance:%20Overview%20of%20Oppari%20songs%20in%20Tamil%20Nadu/11061


My article titled "Oppari and Women's Resistance in Tamil Theatre" can be accessed on this link:



Last but not the least, my interview with an Oppari singer can be accessed here:


https://map.sahapedia.org/search/article/As%20a%20Trans-Woman%20Oppari%20Singer,%20Women%20Relate%20to%20Me%20When%20I%20Sing%20Their%20Grievances:%20In%20Conversation%20with%20M.%20Chandra/11060


I am happy that many scholars have been using my work as a base to further explore the significance of Oppari Songs in Tamil Nadu.

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