By Avantika Debnath
The countdown has begun for Durga Pooja (September 23 this year). Though the festival is principally celebrated in eastern India, there is not a part of our splendid country that doesn’t light a lamp at the idol of ‘Maa Durga’, the Mother Goddess. What’s the reason behind this devotion?
Ya devi sarvabhuteshu shakti – rupena samsthita
Namastasyai, namas asyai, namastasyai namonamah
Ya devi sarvabhuteshu shanti – rupena samsthita
Namastasyai, namastasyai, namastasyai namonamah
Our ancient land is the territory of the adi shakti, home to the civilization that has revered and worshiped womanhood in all its dignity and its grandeur. It is a nation that has, for ages, worshipped women in all forms of attainment. This holy land celebrates Ishi (where eShe derives its name from) as the epitome and source of power, Durga, and treasures wealth in the form of Lakshmi. A piece of paper here is not a byproduct of dead wood. It is the revered Saraswati herself. This is a country where water is a symbol of piousness, and we bow to it as River Ganga. Our synonym for sacrifice is Sita, love is Radha, motherhood is Mary and, on the other hand, the blazing majesty of wrath is portrayed as Kali.
We all take pride in being born out of this soil. And yet it was this very soil where a woman was stripped in front of the masses by a couple of beasts, and no one came to the rescue. Why does no Krishna appear to save the modesty of our woman today? Don’t blame it on our clothes; did you back off from attacking the sari-clad Draupadi? If you bow your head in front of the naked idol of Kali out of veneration, then why do my short skirts make you unruly? Don’t say we are drunk and point at our character; did you forgo the pious Sita?
Indian society has been an embodiment of hypocrisy since the beginning of time and it is a pattern till date. This patriarch nation placed the jewellery-adorned female idol in the temple and tormented the one inside the house. It worshipped Saraswati but prohibited the girl in the house from gaining education. The epithet of wealth may have been Lakshmi, but has the Indian woman attained financial independence? Apparently, India has the lowest percentage of women in the workforce worldwide (25 per cent work-participation rate as per the 2011 Census). A substantial amount of credit can be given to the inflated ego of Indian men. Hypocrisy reaches its height when the woman is asked to leave her job after marriage, and bring money from her father as dowry. That apparently doesn’t hurt the ego. Maybe that is a true example of Laxmi rupen sansthithan (‘the Goddess who resides in all beings in the form of prosperity’).
Maybe one Raja Ram Mohan Roy bunged the sati pratha (custom of the wife jumping into the funeral pyre of the husband), maybe one Vidyasagar upheld the widow-remarriage system, but this nation has now discovered varied forms of tortures to be showered on womankind.
Oh, holy mother of mine, we just need one lit candle to pass on its flame and a dark village could be illuminated. This Durga Pooja, bless us with light.