For the past nine days, India has been celebrating Durga Puja
, the nine days when the Goddess is celebrated in all her divine forms. She is celebrated by one and all, including the men who rape, abuse and denigrate women each and every day. I wonder if they realise that these very women are the image of the Goddess they revere with 'faith'. Night long prayers, visit to temples braving unheard of queues and much more. A recent advertisement campaign
chose to highlight domestic violence by a depicting a series of bruised Goddesses. The campaign
was received with mixed feelings. Personally, I have nothing against it it can make even the slightest difference. But that is to be seen.
Every year, during Durga Puja, I have written about this dichotomy asking myself what a young girl who is normally abused and ill treated feels when she is worshipped,
as on the 8th or 9th day people gather 8 or 9 girls and wash their feet and feed them. What about the other 364 days? To me praying to the Goddess makes no sense if we as a society do not respect women. To me you acquire the right of worshipping a Goddess only after you make sure that every woman be she 1 or 100 is treated with respect and dignity. In a land where girls are killed for falling in love, babies and toddlers are raped, all you need is to have a vagina, where women are beaten and kicked, Goddess worship has no place. But that is just my humble opinion.
Yet this year the rains have played spoilsport on all the celebrations and in another part of the country we await a cyclone of immense magnitude. I would like to believe that it is a sign from the Goddess to remind us of our place, rid us of our hubris, and makes us start hearing and seeing with our hearts. I would like to believe that every drop of rain is a tear from the heavens meant to jolt us out of our indifference. I would like to believe that we realise that the Goddess is not in the image we make of her but in the depth of the eyes of the most abused woman or little girl!
I cannot end this post without writing about another aspect of these festivities, one I call feeding frenzy. During these days it is said that one should feed the poor. On every street, at every corner people erect tents and cook meals and feed whoever passes by, it could be me or you. The food is often made hurriedly, the bread (puris) cooked on high heat are often raw and thrown away. At the end of the day you are left with food strewn
all over the places, precious good quality food that could feed many hungry children. This makes me sick and angry as in this very country there are mothers who ferret rat burrows
to find a few grains to feed their children.
Need I say more!