Sayoni was founded in 2006 by six women from diverse backgrounds, ages, economic status and ethnicities, who recognised a dearth of women leaders and representation in society, particularly in the area of LGBT rights. Since then, we have gone on to work at the local, regional and international levels to advocate for equality and build bridges between people and other organisations.
Our name was inspired by Giti Thadani's book, Sakhiyani, where the author gives the ancient myth of 'Sayoni' an unique interpretation, regarding it as a symbol of relationship and sexual play between women, and as mythological evidence that queerness was very much a part of ancient civilisation.
Yoni is Sanskrit for vagina / womb / origin of life. The 'sa' prefix denotes the joint existence of two yonis, hence Sayoni is an ancient name for the unique concept of the two revolving yonis of Ushasa-naktam, a pair of cosmic twin goddesses mentioned in the text of Rig Veda. They are regarded as so deeply intertwined that even their yonis revolve around each other. Separately, these deities are known as Ushas and Nakra.
To us, the word is a fitting representation of female rights and sexuality, often suppressed and ignored in Asian societies. Our logo is a reflection of our goal, with two petals symbolising Sayoni, the embodiment of the spirit of a confident, modern woman-loving woman.