It’s Durga Festival in a week. It’s important for an Indology student (as well as a Bengali woman) to know that she is the representation of Supreme Shakti, with a multi-dimensional demeanour of mother goddess, a nurturer as well as a warrior/protector. The word ‘Durga’ means invincible. Albeit a Hindu goddess, her roots are Vedic – rather a representation of Devine Feminine as was perceived by Vedic practices.
Most people do not know that Bandyopadhyay are Vedic Brahmins or Kulin Brahmins and not Hindu Brahmins. Though almost all of them have adopted Hinduism as faith as it is closest to Vedic ritual practices – we are older than Hinduism itself. And mainly worshippers of knowledge. In Vedic practices women hold power and are not simply reduced to menstruation, household and baby makers. As a matter of fact, in Vedic practices one can argue that menstruation is celebrated and worshiped rather than seen as dirty or disgusting as in Hinduism. Eg. Kamakhya, another avatar of Shakti, has the Ambubachi Mela at the temple (though it is considered as Kulachara Tantra Marga) is an example of an annual festival that celebrates the menstruation of the goddess. There are many such examples but that’s for those who are truly interested in learning about Vedic practices and Bengali traditions.
Anyhow, today I was reminded by my dad about how powerful a Bengali woman is. Something that we learn over folklore about Durga’s victory over the evil demon Mahisasura. Something that I was told as a child and would have passed on to my daughter if I had one:
If they have to strategically team up against you, realise how powerful you are by yourself.
P.s. if you enjoy my content, keep it fuelled, by buying me a coffee, I’ll remember you while having a much needed sip.