Lady Meherbai Tata: Champion of Women’s rights
October 10 is birth anniversary of Lady Meherbai
Jamshedpur, Oct 9: Meherbai was born on October 10, 1879, into an illustrious Parsi family in Mysore State. Her father H J Bhabha, the Inspector General of Education, Mysore State was a prominent educationist and among the earliest Indians to have studied in Britain. He was influenced by western liberal values that he inculcated in his beloved daughter. Meherbai absorbed these liberal ideals, retaining to the core her proud heritage as a Parsi and an Indian. From an early age and throughout her lifetime, she displayed a resolute and strong will.
Sir Dorab Tata and Lady Meherbai Tata, both had deep love for Sports. Meherbai Tata was a tennis player and won the Triple Crown in the Western India Tennis Tournament. She had won over 60 trophies.
A special feature of Meherbai’s game was her pride in dressing up. She always wore a sari, even on the court. She was also a good rider and drove her own motor car.
Lady Meherbai was keen to see all women taking charge of their own lives. She was one of the founders of the Bombay Presidency Women’s Council and then of the National Council of Women. Meherbai introduced India into the International Council of Women.
Lady Meherbai campaigned for higher education for women, for banning the purdah system and for the eradication of the practice of untouchability. Lady Meherbai believed that without education and knowledge the status of women in India can never be raised. Lady Meherbai was also consulted on the Sarda Act designed to outlaw child marriage.
The beautiful Lady Meherbai Tata was present at the navjote ceremony of Susaune Braire, a French Christian lady, and then her marriage to Ratan Tata by Parsi religious rites. Lady Meherbai dressed Susaune in an ijar and shawl before the navjote and later her daughters helped in the Parsi wedding ceremony to Ratan Tata.
This is narrated in Susaune’s minutely detailed letter to her mother. You can read the letter in my book Who is a Parsi? Pg 116-117.
A true champion of women’s rights.