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Hindu Religion is an ocean of 33 crores of gods and goddesses, ever-growing and ever-expanding. The beauty of this vast number is that you can actually customize your deity, find out which one you can relate to, and which one accepts and embraces your persona. Not that any of these gods are rejecting you, they are ever-welcoming. But it is the human agents, the middle person who has created this chasm between a seeker and god in name of vulnerability, purity, and monopoly.
My experience with my religion was also something like this. While growing up in a neighborhood as an outwardly confident but inwardly shy girl, I was introduced to my first deity when I was in class 12th then. I had boarded the Delhi Public Transport bus to reach the tuition center at some distance from my residence. In that fully crowded bus, a couple of young men started misbehaving with me. I am leaving the details to your imagination because I know these things have not changed much, except for yearly sensitization rallies on women’s day. At that age it was a big shock for me and instead of confronting the tormentors, I sank into self-blaming. Maybe my t-shirt was too tight, or I had unknowingly smiled at them. When my father learned of all this, he called me. I still remember his words –
‘Do you know why women in our society suffer so much?’
I was silent.
‘Because they are choosing the wrong deities. They suffer because they want to be Sita, savior of their honor. Instead, be Ma Chandi. Don’t care what you have worn, how you behaved, don’t let them judge you. Your honour is not your crucifix. Once you have stopped caring for your honor, you will get the courage to raise your voice against injustice.’
These words are still my mantra for testing times. This was my first encounter with the Goddess. I found her so relatable, a guiding light in my growing years into adulthood and even today.
I embraced the second deity during the visit to a close family relative. The lady of the house, upon learning that I am menstruating, asked me to sit in the courtyard and sent lunch through a servant who left the plate on the floor. My mere touch, like that conduction experiment, would have passed on from my hand to that plate to that servant and to the other members of the family, polluting them all. Now, why this gibberish of pollution, aren’t we already living in this highly polluted air. Well, according to their super-faith, my monthly periods were nothing less than profanity which would bring boils on the body of the man of the house and other beings. The humiliation was so strong. For them, it was their faith, while for me it was my body. In an instance, I had lost faith in my body, my temple. This was the moment when I discovered Buddha as my next deity. It wouldn’t matter whether I was a man or a woman, a Brahmin or a Shudra, for him, I was just me.
With time and situation, many more deities were added to my life-cart. Like when I got married to an Army officer. I embraced Sita, leaving city life and moving from one border town to another, with unquestioned love and devotion to him and his duty calls.
Sometimes the deities were added, sometimes created. In the year 2012 when the gruesome Nirbhaya rape happened, I was a young mother of a daughter. Like many other mothers, I was gripped with anger and fear. And that was the time, I created as a writer a goddess – The Girl with Sealed Vagina. Imagine what would happen if the goddess seals its vagina. When Devi Kamakhya’s menstruating blood stops reddening the Brahmaputra river?
This goddess was an amalgamation of Sita and mother earth.
Religion is not a stiff tree, it is a flowing river, a floating cloud. You may find a giraffe in its shape and I may find a shark. It is all about finding relatability, peace, and acceptance in your deity. Like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, raised voice against social evils like Sati Pratha, but died with sacred thread drawn across his chest, I too mean no insult or disregard to any religion.
It is hilarious that we are stuck on the politics of defamation of our gods. They are beyond these human claptraps. If you want to focus, whether it is Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or any other religion…..focus on your vulnerable section, on your women, and children. Be outraged and incited when a woman is raped, or a child is sold in name of marriage, or forests are burnt, or your pure air is polluted. Shift your sensitivity to things on which your survival depends.
Gods and Goddesses can take care of themselves.
Vartika Sharma Lekhak is a published author based in India who enjoys writing on social issues, travel tales and short stories. She is an alumnus of JNU and currently studying law at Symbiosis Law School, read more...
This post has published with none or minimal editorial intervention. Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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