My family was in textiles and I’m in books. Growing up, there were many teachings that my elders passed down to me. There is one story that is firmly imprinted in my mind and comes back to me over and over again.
“My grandma used to believe that our ancestors look after us. If there are difficulties in life, huge changes in society, people believe that the souls of our ancestors are there to protect us. We should respect and pray for them. People strongly believe that we still share a connection. After that person has passed away, we still have that connection in us.”
Brahmavadini was the title attributed to women scholars, who dedicated their lives to the pursuit of knowledge and the study of the Vedas. Some were unmarried, living as ascetics and independent of their fathers, brothers or male counterparts. They were paragons of intellectual proficiency, natural philosophy and spiritual enlightenment. They were Rishikis–female sages–in their own right and were revered as teachers, doctors and theorists.
“Night Theater begins with a surgeon who is struggling against corruption in his dilapidated village clinic, and who is visited one evening by the dead and thrust into a bizarre night of revelations and surgeries, with the surgeon trying to restore them to life.”
The Hindu Goddess Kali Ma, is religiously worshipped all over India. In a country where goddesses are portrayed as benevolent and loving, Kali Ma is definitely an exception. Since my childhood, I always wondered about Kali Ma’s appearance. Eventually, my curious mind sought out many fascinating stories related to the Goddess Kali. I have selected a few stories from the Pandora’s box of fables to reflect upon the personality of a violent goddess with a tender heart.
“The worship of Durga and Kali are a big part of Bengali Hindu traditions. Durga Puja at the end of Navaratri is one of Bengal’s biggest festivals. Kali Puja is done during Diwali. More than any specific story that stayed in my mind, it was the description of Kali that has stuck with me. She is fierce, aggressive and a destroyer of evil.”
Kali Ma is a true icon for the fourth wave of feminism that seizes the world today. A woman who stands true to herself – her identity, her sexuality – and doesn’t let the world tell her that she is not supposed to be the way she is. She is the embodiment of nature that cannot be controlled by man and later consumes him.
The child in me always believed that somewhere somehow all the living entities in this universe are assisting each other to find their true purpose. This invisible inter-relation of entities is beyond past, present, and future.
The princess of Panchal has a very unique story of birth. King Draupad wanted a son to defeat Dronacharya and hence was trying, by all means, to get one. No one knew that along with a son, a daughter will also be born. As Draupadi emerged from the sacrificial fire, a heavenly voice announced that this girl will change the course of Bharat (modern-day India) in the future.
In the epic, there are oodles of miraculous narratives revolving around the birth of Karna that leave us spellbound. Every birth in this universe is guided by inexplicable cosmic forces without an ounce of human interference. These cosmic forces carry the weight that decides the fate of every child. Without any known merits, some of us get access to a plethora of privileges right from birth whereas some of us struggle for even the basic necessities.