For the past 2 days, thousands and thousands from all walk of life are fervently washing feet of nine little girls to mark the end of Durga puja. This is done as a mark of respect of the Goddess the symbol of the purest creative force. There are many interpretations of this ritual but one thing is certain: young girls are meant to be the image of the Goddess. So they worshipped, venerated, idolized just for the few minutes of a ritual whose meaning everyone had forgotten. Come the said morning and in every Hindu home pressure cookers whistle, potatoes are peeled and cooked into a spicy dish and sweet halwa is eagerly stirred in large woks, flat breads are rolled and deep fried. The food is then served in nine containers and money or gifts as is the fashion now - pencil cases, lunch boxes, hair clips - are added.The feast for the Goddess(es) is ready. Every family has 'booked' their goddesses of the day - children of neighbours in slums and shanties, children of those who work for you and so on. The little girls are sat in a row, their feet are washed by all members of the family, then they are given the food and the gifts. Often little girls are seen going from home to home collecting their bounty of the day. It is not every day that girls are feted in India! No wonder project why classes are quasi empty on these days.
The status of women has known many mutations in India. From having equal status to men in ancient India their history has been eventful. It sad to learn that according to a recent study by Reuters India is the "fourth most dangerous country" in the world for women today. And though the are supposed to enjoy equal right to men the reality is different. In a male dominated society women suffer immensely. So is not hypocritical to worship little girls and the next moment forget that they are the image of the Goddess you venerate with so much false piety.
I for one do not wash feet of little girls once a year. I would rather continue in silence the work I do where I worship them in my own way every day by giving them what they need to fight for the rights so many of us have usurped.