As India charges forward as an economic, technological and political powerhouse, it’s important that strides are also made to ensure that its success isn’t limited to only half of the population. It’s important to understand how the fundamental tenet of who we are today and where will go as a community, is based on the figures and stories that started it. Oftentimes it is necessary to draw on cultural and historical figures interred deeply in our culture, in order to move forward. With Navratri around the corner, we must take this time to reflect on our history and mythology as a guide for resolving the present day issues our society faces.
Navratri is the celebration of Ma Durga, her different forms, and her fight against the demon king Mahishasura. Ma Durga has been regarded as “the Shakti” or the energy and power behind the force of good which Hindus celebrate. She wields weapons like a chakra, Vishnu’s discus, and bows and arrows, as they are symbolic of her strength. Her name “Durga” means “the invincible” as she represents endless intelligence and power. Hindus have revered her as the Divine self within themselves and prayed to her for her blessings on each new endeavor they go forth with.
As Navratri promulgates a period of devotion to the female warrior Goddess, this begs the question —if we worship female deities and pray to depictions of strong, powerful women, then why are women in modern-day society often treated unequally?
These questions are often times lost among the structural barriers created in order to speed growth and development. Cultures across the world use archaic frameworks as a crutch so as not to disturb the status quo, especially when devoting money, time and effort, to compound on previous successes and to compete. But we must also recognize that our female counterparts become further disadvantaged as the fruits of economic success often do not trickle down nor include them.
This Navratri, as we continue to move forward, we must take time to contemplate in our history and mythology which can guide us towards a deeper understanding of resolving the externalities our society faces. We ought to contemplate and reflect on bolstering the status of women across the world by embracing the powerful stories of Ma Durga.
Vikram Mahendru, Co-Founder StoryChatter.com