Dussehra is the festival that celebrates the nine forms of Goddess Durga and honors the divine feminine energy that is present in every woman around the world. Like every ordinary woman who in her everyday life shifts across different extraordinary roles of being a selfless mother, loving daughter, fierce entrepreneur, passionate lover or even a brave soldier, the nine aspects of Navadurga are completely diverse, yet perfectly symbolic of the stories of women in today’s times.

This Dussehra Ootkal pays tribute to the indomitable spirit of womenhood through nine extraordinary women who are have proven to be the true embodiment of Goddess Durga’s nive avataars.

1. Shailaputri

The first divine form of Navadurga is Shailaputri, the princess who set out on an adventure, keeping aside her fears. After burning in her form as Sati, the Mother Goddess was reborn in the house of the King of Mountains, as the daughter of Lord Himalaya.

Like Shailaputri , despite her death, the 19 year old Hathras Dalit gang rape victim has set out on a mission to unite India to fight against caste and gender based crimes that still rampantly occur across the country.

She, Nirbhaya and countless other victims are Shailaputris, daughters of the land of the Himalayas, extremely brave women, who fearlessly battle against injustice, even in death.

2. Bramhacharini

The second divine form of Navadurga is Brahmacharini, a pious woman who meditated for many years and represents penance and perseverance. She remindsus of Shaeen Bagh’s Bilkis Dadi, the 82-year old woman, who was one of the most inspiring faces of the protest movement against the Citizenship Amendment and National Registry bill.

Like a Bramhacharini, Bilkis Dadi and the other elderly women who dream of a united India which is not polarized in the name of religion, silently protested and persisted in their peaceful ways to fight against religion based discrimination. They inspired millions to choose hope over hate.

3. Chandraghanta

The third divine form of Navadurga is Chandraghanta, the angry one who wore a deadly bell. 

The qualities of Chandraghanta are in some way reflected in Shakuntala Devi, the mathematical genius and human computer who crunched numbers in nanoseconds. With her anger against inequality and discrimination faced by women in “male-centric” subjects like Mathematics, she challenged the world with her intellect and did not stop till she made the world realize that there was more to women than just their external beauty.

4. Kushmanda

The fourth divine form of Navadurga is Kushmanda, the beautiful woman, whose smile is her brightest jewel. Like the sun, her glow is divine.

Just like Kushmanda the brave acid attack survivor, Laxmi Agarwal, not just overcame the attack but went on to become an activist, a beauty influencer and a TV host.

The acid that was thrown on her could not burn down her divine smile and determination. She along with countless other acid attack survivors continue to inspire the world with their smile which is as bright as the morning sun.

5. Skandamata

The fifth divine form of Navadurga is Skandamata- the unconditionally loving mother.

Skandamata is every selfless mother with nerves of steel, especially all the migrant mothers who walked thousands of miles sometimes even bare feet, carrying their children during the COVID-19 lockdown this year. The fierce desire to protect her child hides behind every loving mother’s smile.

 

6. Katyayani

The sixth divine form of Navadurga is Katyayani, the slayer of a dangerous demon who with her anger and power ultimately defeats the evil.

The reflection of Katyayani is witnessed in Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. Who with her courage, determination and intelligence was the first world leader to completely bring the Corona virus under control in her country.

She serves as an example of how with grit and courage, even the most dangerous pandemic can be challenged.

7. Kaalratri

The seventh divine form of Navadurga is Kaalratri, the feisty fighter.

Just like Mary Kom, the only boxer (male or female) in the world to win eight World Championship medals. 

She is a fierce fighter and has inspired millions of women around the world to break into unknown territories with their bare hands and shatter prejudices against women in sports and numerous other fields. 

8. Maha Gauri

The eighth divine form of Navadurga is Maha Gauri, the peace-loving goddess who symbolizes purity.

These subtle qualities are reflected in Sudha Murty, the ever-smiling teacher, writer and philanthropist. She leads by example with her politeness, compassion, simplicity and knowledge. With her relentless efforts, she has touched millions of underprivileged lives.

9. Siddhidatri

The ninth divine form of Navadurga is Siddhidatri, the one who removes ignorance and provides the knowledge to realize true reality. 

We can find the enviable qualities of Siddhidatri in Pramila Bisoyi, the Odia leader who has been a representative for Mission Shakti, the women’s Self Help Group(SHG) movement of Odisha. She is an advocate for women’s participation in a civil society, is a feminist by practice and has been involved in ensuring that rural women get access to skill development and financial independence.

She and countless other women activists who work relentlessly to ensure equality for women, are today’s Siddhidatris. They reinforce the world view that every woman is a goddess, someone who should be treated with the same love and dignity, like each of the forms of the divine, Navadurga.