Durga Puja and Women Power.
Durga Puja is a popular festival of worship of Goddess Durga, a deity of Shakti (Power) in India. The story of Mahishasura Mardini depicts the victory of Maa Durga over Mahishasura, the buffalo demon, to protect the Universe epitomizes the spirit of Durga Puja, the victory of good over evil.
During her annual visit, Maa Durga holds various weapons like the trishul, sudarshan chakra, sword, thunderbolt , bow and arrow. These weapons symbolize various qualities of human nature and can also be used to destroy evil. Besides these, the conch and the lotus flower in her hands symbolize the dominance of the sound of God (Om) in life and the ability to achieve spiritual heights amidst all sins and evils in the surrounding, respectively.
Just like Ma Durga, women in India are powerful, sensitive, righteous and courageous. The history of women in India has been eventful and has seen a vast change in perception over several decades. Modern India now has successful women participation in areas of education, sports, politics, media, art & culture, service sector, business, science & technology , social work ,etc. Women like Mother Teresa, Indira Gandhi, Bachendri Pal, Shovana Narayan, Kiran Bedi and many more have inspired thousands of girls to walk on the road less travelled and leave a trail behind for millions to follow.
But in a country of 21st Century where Maa Durga is worshipped and women form the backbone of the society, India is still fighting several demons of crimes against women, like trafficking, rape, sex-selective abortion, dowry, domestic violence and child marriage. This is an irony, a struggle, a fight. We worship our goddesses but tend to forget respecting the spirit of those deities in our girls. Demons of societal illiteracy promote bad practices like female infanticide and feticide. In a time when women are world leaders, we as a country are still asking them to follow certain norms which are hindering their progress.
As we celebrate 68 years of independent India, we should promise to stop turning a blind eye to these societal demons we live with. We need to welcome a change in perspective of looking at our girls. This change in mind set will showcase freedom of Mother India in its truest sense. As we welcome Maa Durga this year, let us all join hands and come victorious over the evil within and all around us and give our girls all the reasons to celebrate the festivities that are about to begin.
Dr Kaberi Banerjee