It's that time of the year again. Dasara also known as Navaratri, as in the first nine days the Divine Mother Goddess Durga is worshipped and invoked in different manifestations of her Shakti. The 10th day is in honor of Durga Devi. The basic purpose behind this festival is to worship feminine principle of the Universe in the form of the divine mother to remind the teachings of the Taitareeya Upanishad, "Matru Devo Bhava." Essence of the navaratri celebration at social level is to remind; respect all the women, who are the guardians of the family, culture, and national integrity, to take lead in times of crisis to guide the humanity towards the path of social justice, righteousness, equality, love, and divinity.
If we look at the figures of sex ratio in India, according to the 2011 Census, the number of girls stands at 940 which is a marginal increase from 933 in 2001. Not surprisingly, Haryana has the lowest sex ratio among the states while Kerala remains at the top with the highest sex ratio. In the national capital Delhi, the statistics stand at 821 girls against 1000 boys in 2001 compared to 866 in 2011.
According to the statistics, nearly 10 million female foetuses have been aborted in the country over the past two decades. Of the 12 million girls born in India, one million do not see their first birthdays.
What sort of a celebration is this when the femininity is devotedly doted upon while on every second street corner a woman is mauled. Sometimes as a foetus, for having had the XX combination of chromosomes and many times as a woman who is nothing more than a huma who is supposed to confine herself in the cage of clothing she wears. As a foetus, her father and her grand parents had already been damned with the thought of doling up dowry for her sometime in the future. Dowry being the bride price the parents of a woman pay to buy her conjugal rights into a household, with not much exceptions to say a no to it. If she manages to see the light of the day, she is not sent to schools, is made to milk buffaloes, cook and clean while her brother is sent to study and given good clothes to wear. And forcibly married to a guy, eons elder to her while she rents out her womb with the dowry to bring out a male heir for her husband's family. She isn't asked to voice her opinion about whether she wants to marry and bear kids, these are her duties towards a sexist society that considers womanhood synonymous to a womb. This way she becomes the symbol of family honour, dare she doesn't offer herself for this role, she isn't allowed to live. This is the story of the villages, where a woman is the emblem of social and religious biases. If we hop on to the cities it is no better. Foetuses are thrown into dustbins or fed to dogs for a little over two thousand rupees that the doctor charges, after having been killed in posh localities, where boys are still preferred over girls as a status symbol and the legal heir to the property and family business. Again, if she lives, she is sent to school without any signs of discrimination, until the roles of home making don't give her a call which is supposedly not taught to her brother. She has to dress down to save her soul and isn't not allowed to go to parties and pubs for she may be punished in the name of morality. After she marries, she is burnt with the explosion of a cylinder, for she did not bring the cash and kind that her husbands family had anticipated for.
While she is out on the streets, she is raped by a thousand men with two thousand eyes yearning to get a glimpse of her cleavage or her legs. Men are waiting on the streets, to lift women for no reasons or chase a woman to give her a heart attack in triplicates, so that from the very next day, she can be this coy cat who is dropped to work or college by her dad or brother. I have for so many times, dreaded doing the rounds of the Rajiv Chowk metro station or travelling by buses for the fear of being groped by men, for its an ill wind that blows in the life of us women, that has done us no good. Even then it is a hapless habit when it comes to travelling everyday for work or college. If a woman gets raped in this part of the world, the fear of societal stigma keeps her from even reporting the matter to the police. They say shamelessly that she deserved it, never letting conviction be confirmed in most cases of sexual harassment, molestation or rape, each a mutated manifestation of how patriarchal and pervert this male dominated society is.
Rather than empowering the woman and giving her a reason to celebrate her femininity, the society has made her weak and always runs to cover her up. She needs her father as a daughter, a husband as a wife and when he bids farewell to the world her sons as a mother. Again I wonder, how will the calculations be considered if she has no sons?
The sleeping dogs start lying when talks of equality get a voice owing to the media and social networking, while she is expected to accept a seat in the buses or metro, for that they say is her right. A separate coach for women in the metro or the reservation in the Parliament or for that matter the ladies queues in government offices has only added fuel to the fire. These have only made her weaker not sponsoring the cause for which she has been fighting for long. Equality!
Ironically, travelling in a compartment full of women or seeing a man vacate his seat for me doesn't make me felicitate freedom, that supposedly the government thinks is enabling empowerment to the fairer sex.
When Shakti is being glorified in gold, in pooja pandals all over the country, a female foetus is thrown in the bin for dogs to devour while in another part of the country a girl from a poor family is being sold for a little over ten thousand rupees to a rich farmer in Haryana so that she can be a breeding machine for his babies and a sex object with which the man can play.
In a country where femininity is being plundered, looted and even traded for a few thousand rupees, is this vain inglorious deification of goddesses so necessary, just to tout for traditions? Shouldn't we tirelessly toil to first make the open spaces safer for women, before trying to glorify goddesses of stone and gold? Hasn't hypocrisy being written in bold letters all over the walls of homes, that testify of Shakti but, are killing their girls and women to root for misinformed misogyny! And do you think the goddesses will be pleased any day, if only what is happening continues, to never see light at the end of the tunnel?