Costume Candidate for 2013: Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi

Thanks to our Kickstarter campaign for 2013, we’re adding 19 new costumes this season, 7 of which our backers and supporters will get to vote on. This series of posts is designed to briefly introduce the many notable women and legendary figures we’ll be considering. Voting will take place spring/summer of 2013.


Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi was a heroic young queen (rani) who fought in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. She didn’t set out to be a rebel, but the appalling behavior of the British left her little choice. Her problems began when her husband, the ruler of the princely state of Jhansi, died in 1853. Rani Lakshmibai was supposed to succeed him as regent, but instead the British East India Company horned in and absorbed Jhansi into their domains. When the Rebellion started a few years later, the British assumed the deposed Rani was in cahoots with the insurgents. Actually she wasn’t, at least not at first. But having been marked out by the colonial powers as a dangerous rebel, she rose to the occasion.

Lakshmibai personally mustered a volunteer army of 14,000 men and women to defend Jhansi. She rallied both Muslims and Hindus to her banner, united people of all castes, and encouraged women to leave purdah. She herself was strikingly bold and brave, riding her horse with the reins between her teeth and a sword in each hand. Even her enemies admitted that she was a gifted leader and administrator. When she was killed in battle on June 17, 1858, the rebellion effectively collapsed.

Today the Rani of Jhansi is revered as India’s first great figure in the struggle for independence. Her memory lives on in movies, art, literature, place names, and countless equestrian statues across the country.

Think we should add a Rani of Jhansi costume to Take Back Halloween? If you missed our Kickstarter campaign you can still become a supporter and get to vote on the new costumes.


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