When Noor first started studying at the Department of Indian Languages and Cultures, India was a far away land crowded with elegant palaces, colourful saris, and rickshaws, in short: an enchanting (orientalistic) fairytale. Very soon however, this humble fairytale revealed itself to be a voluminous and complex epic.
While learning Sanskrit, Hindī and Malayāḷam, Noor got fascinated by the extensive literary heritage that India provides us with. Particularly the role of women in religion and history, interwoven with the way they are portrayed in literature, has been the subject of her study. For her Bachelor paper, she submitted a study about the position of women in the Mahābhārata; a subject that she examined more elaborately in her Master’s dissertation about Pratibha Ray’s modern day Draupadī.
Today, Noor has expanded her field of interest more towards the South of India. Having an extraordinary history, especially with respect to religion, culture and literature, Kerala provides the background for the doctoral research she currently undertakes. Through her project, titled "Bhadrakali and the Bhadrotpatti: a comparative study of a regional goddess and her puranic narrative tradition”, she intends to explore the evolving regional cultus of goddess Bhadrakali and the surrounding narrative tradition of the Darikavadham. In this way she hopes to make a modest contribution to the voluminous and challenging epic India that is.
In my part time position as a Teaching Assistant at the Department of Indian Languages and Cultures (UGent) I teach and support the Sanskrit courses in 1st, 2nd and 3rd BA. This spectrum of courses ranges from introducing students to basic language principles in Sanskrit upto the reading of several well-known Sanskrit works, such as Kathasaritsagara, Buddhacarita and Ramopakhyana. From the MA level onward, the Sanskrit teaching advances into the study of Prakrit. Reading verses from Agadadatta, the students take their first steps in the world of Jaina literature, the study of which has developed a long tradition at our department. In addition I perform guest lectures for several courses . This includes a 9 hour intensive seminar on the reading of a Bhadrakalimahatmya manuscript, and a 6 hour interactive course on Gender and Feminist movements in India.