Legendary Figure: Jhansi Rani


Jhansi Rani was an Indian queen in the 19th century who was known as one of the strongest female icons and legends in Indian culture. She was one the only major queens/matriarchal figures in post-British Indian colonization and was known for fighting off a British incursion with her newborn baby strapped to her back.


“From 1st through 3rd grade, my immigrant mom used to always make me dress up as this random Indian queen. I wasn’t really sure who she was, but she let me strap my American Girl Bitty Baby to my back on the costume, so I didn’t have many complaints. Literally over spring break, I was looking through baby photos with my mom and asked her about the costume. She explained the legend of Jhansi Rani to me, and explained how that story was so inspiring and powerful to her as a child, and how sad she is that it’s been slowly fading from Indian culture over the years. She was just trying to get me to connect with my culture which I honestly really appreciated.

According to her Jhansi Rani was a story that her mother used to always tell her about as a kid, especially because her mother, my grandma, had grown up during the post-imperialism era where many anti-British power stories and symbols were common. Apparently, in India there are many statues and even now movies dedicated to Jhansi Rani, and many all-female Indian primary schools, like the one my mom went to, have entire days dedicated to her where they dressed up in her signature braids and war attire, just like my mom dressed me on Halloween.”


Jhansi Rani is a tremendous inspiration to all Indians, as both a symbol of anti-British imperialism and resistance as well as a symbol of female power and prowess. Women warriors were far more respected back in Jhansi’s day than in even modern times (women were not allowed into the Indian military until more recently), so she symbolizes female empowerment which is why many young girls dress up like her, schools honor her, and the Indian media has spent so much time recovering her story of late.