It’s Pujo season. It’s the time of the year where the Maa Durga, a manifestation of Shakti is worshipped with great fervour. Shakti, in Hinduism, represents the cosmic energy, everything that is dynamic. It’s the feminine counterpart of Shiva and an integral part of Ardhanarishwara, a constructive and generative force. On the eighth and ninth day of the festival, young girls are worshipped in a ritual known as Kanya Puja. Not surprisingly, Shakti and Durga worship is often used as a trump card whenever Hinduism is mentioned in the context of misogyny.
Coincidentally, India is also at the cusp of what may be the biggest feminist revolution the country has ever seen – the #MeToo Movement. After having knocked down many influential sexual predators from their pedestal in the West, the hashtag revolution has finally hit Indian shores. Women from advertising, journalism and films have taken to Twitter to name and shame those who have sexually abused them. Heads haven’t stopped rolling ever since. What Are Nine Avatars of Goddess Durga or Navdurga? Pictures, Mantras & Celebration Dates of Navratri Festival.
Everyone suddenly is scampering to distance themselves from the so-called offenders. Netflix series are getting dropped, A-listers have been backing out of films, sisters are denouncing brothers, and apologies are flying left right and centre. One cannot help but ignore how fortuitous is the turn of events, smack in the middle of Pujo season.
Hinduism equates woman with the primordial energy of Shakti, as vessels of power that are both destructive and creative (polarising and problematic, I know). In the wake of the #MeToo Movement in the midst of Navratri, it’s hard to ignore that Indian women have finally found their strength (Shakti?) to speak up. She’s whipped up a storm, taking down the wrongdoers like Shakti would in her fiercest form. In her creative form, she has built an avenue for others like her to share their own stories.
Sceptics may question whether the hashtag revolution would amount to anything, especially since many women haven’t taken the legal recourse. But one would be a fool to not acknowledge what the movement has already achieved. Powerful men who harassed and browbeat women, who created and perpetuated a culture of abuse have enough clout to bend the law as they please. But with their reputation dented, they are now grovelling for forgiveness. Men who used philanthropy as a front are now being looked at differently. Flag bearers of Sanskaar are being exposed for their true worth. “Woke” men who identified as feminists to sell their brand of comedy now have some serious skeletons tumbling out of their cupboard. Had it not been for the courage of a few women, these men would have never been exposed for their wrongdoings. It’s as if women have finally awakened the Shakti within themselves and from the looks of it, we are already winning. Maa Durga would be proud. What a time to be alive!