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Take a look at this beautiful Navratri series that celebrates the power of women, often fighting against tough odds in India.
Navratri is a 9-day Indian festival that involves the worship of the feminine spirit, power and divinity. Specific colours are symbolic of the rituals associated with each day. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if India respected its women the way we worship our goddesses?
Here is a 9-part series that aims to celebrate women through the 9 colours of Navratri. These are simple examples that probably capture a very, very small percentage of the countless challenges that women face on a daily basis in our country.
Day 1: Today’s colour is yellow. For all the women who are constantly told that they can’t, but they do.
Day 2: Today’s colour is green. Depending on the law, society and circumstances, the idea of freedom or even choice is a far-fetched dream for many women. For me, the green symbolizes an escape – women who’ve been able to fight the system, make their own decisions and carve their own paths. Those who’ve been able to break free from everything that’s held them back, including themselves.
Day 3: Today’s colour is grey. For women who’ve had to fight unimaginably hard battles and are still fighting for justice.
Day 4: Today’s colour is orange. For all the women (especially domestic helpers) who work odd jobs and long hours to be able to support their families and afford their kids an education. I think we have a lot to learn from this country’s fiercely strong didis/akkas/bais.
Day 5: Today’s colour is white. In some parts of India, widows are isolated from society and abandoned by their families. Apart from wearing only white and being forbidden to participate in festivals, in extreme cases, widows are also to shave their heads and suffer psychological abuse. Last year, thousands of widowed women, who typically dress in white, gathered in Vrindavan to celebrate Holi, breaking a 400-year old taboo. While these traditions are changing in many parts of India, this comic is for all those women who’re still seeking acceptance, and more importantly, fighting for a life of dignity.
Day 6: Today’s colour is red. Female infanticide and foeticide is shockingly common even today in India, and is a desperate measure taken (usually by parents) due to financial reasons, fear of social isolation, lack of family planning, dowry costs, etc. India outlawed the dowry system in 1961 and sex determination tests in 1994. Yet we hear of female infanticide cases quite frequently. I know of a couple, who, hoping for a son, ending up having 8 daughters. All of us have heard these stories. There are a bunch of government initiatives and NGOs that are trying to prevent this act. I’d like to think that there is hope, and the situation is changing.
Day 7: Today’s colour is royal blue. I have often wondered why there exists such a big pay gap in the workplace not only in India but worldwide. I think women who are aware that this pay gap exists in their own companies should call it out and make sure they are not undervalued.
Day 8: Today’s colour is pink. Women everywhere think negative thoughts about themselves — I come across so many women who think they’re too fat, too thin, too short, too lanky — there is always something wrong. We try on a dress, and even if somebody tells us we look fabulous, we want to think otherwise. We obsess when we look into the mirror. I’ve figured that the most amazing feeling in the world is to look into the mirror and see somebody who’s beautiful, confident and ready to take on the day. That in itself is most battles won!
Day 9: Today’s colour is purple. Women in India face numerous daily battles — whether in rural or urban areas. Safety is still a big issue — a world in which we can walk without fear seems far away. Overcoming challenges is easier said than done. Yet we have so many women who are doing wonderful work and empowering others.
I believe the true spirit of Navratri lies in celebrating not only our goddesses but also the women of this country. Who, if you ask me, are goddesses in their own right.
First published here.