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We’re Called ‘Devi’ But Are Oppressed, Silenced, Killed, Or An Invisible Victim Of Patriarchy

Posted: March 9, 2020

Women’s Day just went past, with all the spa and shopping discounts, and even the PM giving up his social media handle to women. But honestly, tell me, do we really celebrate the women in our lives?

In a country teeming of the ideology “kanyaayein devi hoti hain”, and the famed ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, women still undergo uncountable crises and violence which men probably will never hear of, or if they do hear, it will never be spoken of.

Being born as a woman, let me take you on a journey where you see the true avatars of devis nowadays.

The Annapurna who represents your kitchen is under-appreciated and taken for granted every single day, only because it’s her job to cook anyway. She battles her exhaustion and the mental stress of her profession only to ‘prove’ that she can multitask, and pamper her family as well as she is managing her career front, which, by the way, is mostly spent trying to not be cut-off in the middle when she is speaking, and overridden in emails.

The MahaGauri who binds your home together with harmony and lights a diya every morning is the same woman struggling to be acknowledged in her own home and crying behind shut doors, because she is “just another woman” who does things for her family because it’s “her responsibility”.

The Shailputri yearns to delve into her solitude, but only because she is expected to “hold it together”, she never really gets enough time to just be.

The Chamunda is not fighting Chand and Mund anymore, she is fighting the man who stalks her home and flashes at her, she is on a war with the ones eyeing her waist while she mops the floor as her daily routine. She isn’t making the demons bleed, but is being humiliated by the ones who mock her.

Durga isn’t wielding weapons from the Gods anymore, because she is offered none. Instead, she heads to her office every day keeping an eye out for the sound of clicking without a camera flash. She is neither a man nor God, and that is where she prays she was; because now who would behead the evil intending to claw and prey upon her skin, which, by the way, they now call her “dignity and respect”.

Kaali who walks out for her daily chores is judged for her skin colour, and no, she isn’t infuriated by the ones creating chaos but disappointed in the ones who stand by as spectators. Kaali isn’t raging while she tandavs and her tongue isn’t out, neither is she standing on Shiva– because now all she does is bite her tongue when she forgets to speak politely or strongly voices her opinion instead.

The Saraswati isn’t singing her melodious notes, because it is her hobby but way too reckless to be her profession. Sure, she needs to be trained in music but pursuing it might seem a little too not-so-advisable. And by any chance whatsoever, even if she does manage to pursue it, the field is too glamourous for her to shine in (without sleeping with a man, of course). The rest of the Saraswatis envisioning an elaborate education are learning to cook instead, because “ghar sambhaalna” will eventually be her only life.

Oh and how can we miss Lakshmi, she sure is allowed to bring good fortune and strengthen the finances by the dowry, oops, “the gift given to the daughter by her family”, but she still has to justify her position as a CEO because come on, she couldn’t have made it clean to reach up there. Also, she is advised to not talk to Kuber these days, because a woman and a man can never be “just friends” you see, that’s what the society says and implies anyway!

Parvati, too, is no longer Shakti, as she is consistently being drained of her soul and spirit from centuries as she provides to all. Shiva has started turning the other way too, as the Aadishakti, the other half is non-existent; thanks to the courtesy of enormous yet fragile egos of men.

Sita now stands smiling as they judge her for “allowing” another man to abduct her without her consent because obviously it wouldn’t have happened until and unless she wanted it to and wasn’t she asking for it anyway? Considering she chose to show off her 6-inch gap between the blouse and the saree? She could have worn a robe instead. It could have been prevented, only if she wanted to!

I can name 108 Devis and avatars including Nirbhaya, Disha and the 3-month-old who couldn’t speak or even weep properly yet.

But you know what’s worse? That they all somewhere fought the same battle and lost; And it’s not just them, there are millions of others who will keep fighting them on different levels and different situations and yet end up being either oppressed, killed or as a victim of patriarchy.

Before you clink glasses and “Celebrate Womanhood on Women’s Day”, you need to make sure you are treating all the devis as equals on the other days. I know it is easy to be ignorant of the stats, turn the other way when we express our wars and miseries, or downright deny the need for feminism because of a handful of pseudofeminists–but please, don’t. Address us, acknowledge us, admire and appreciate us while you stand by us. Or simply stop calling Kanjaks in Navratri and lighting diyas in the temple while you seek another woman’s blessings!

Image source: a still from English Vinglish

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