AskDefine | Define zenana

The Collaborative Dictionary

Zenana \Ze*na"na\, n. [Hind. zen[=a]na, zan[=a]na, fr. Per. zan[=a]na, fr. zan woman; akin to E. queen.] The part of a dwelling appropriated to women. [India] [1913 Webster]

English

Etymology

From / (zanānah), from (zan) ‘woman’.

Pronunciation

/zəˈnɑːnə/

Noun

  1. A harem on the Indian subcontinent, a part of the house reserved for high-caste women; a system of segregating women into harems.
    • 1888, Rudyard Kipling, ‘The Bisara of Pooree’, Plain Tales from the Hills, Folio Society 2005, p. 173:
      Depend upon it, Solomon would never have built altars to Ashtaroth and all those ladies with queer names, if there had not been trouble of some kind in his zenana, and nowhere else.
Zenana (Persian: زنانه, Urdu: زنانہ, Hindi: ज़नाना) refers to the part of a house in South Asian countries such as India and Pakistan reserved for the women of the household. The Zenana is the apartments of an Eastern house in which the women of the family are secluded. This is an Islamic custom, which has been introduced into India and has spread amongst the Hindus.

Zenana Missions

The zenana missions are missions by women missionaries to Indian women in their own homes, with the aim of converting them to Christianity. The Baptist Missionary Society inaugurated Zenana missions to India in the early 19th century. The concept was later taken up by other churches and extended to other countries.
By the 1880s, the "zenana missions" became dedicated to providing Indian women with medical help in their own homes. This involved recruiting female doctors, both by persuading female doctors in Europe to come to India and by encouraging Indian women to study medicine. As a result, the zenana missions helped break down the male bias of colonial medicine in India.

See also

zenana in Danish: Zenana
zenana in Spanish: Zenana
zenana in Persian: زنانه
zenana in Scottish Gaelic: Zenana
zenana in Hindi: ज़नाना
zenana in Urdu: زنانہ
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