I have often been asked why we worship a woman in the form of Goddess yet treat our women miserably. Truthfully I have often wondered that too. Irony or hypocrisy?

I remember this one incident when we visited a temple where women were denied entry. My little one asked me “Are there any temples of Goddesses where men are not allowed?” This innocent question had so much depth in it. Someone overheard the question and replied “because women are more accommodating, they welcome everyone.” This was said with a tone of pride. How proud we are of being all accommodating and accepting.

We have glorified womanhood. A loving, caring, forgiving super woman and the best of us try to fit ourselves into that role. How often have we had conversations where we talk about how men are simply not capable of playing certain roles? How it takes a woman to run a house, raise a child, feed the family, heal the sick etc etc.

Fact of the matter is that we somewhere enjoy the role of a martyr. We have a sense of pride about all the sacrifices we make in our lives because we are a “woman”. I once asked someone “What will happen if you were not at home for a week?” Somewhere most of us are afraid of this answer.

My sense of pride comes from this template of woman we have in our brains. I may crib and cry about how I have to manage everything but I secretly need it to feel a sense of fulfillment. I met this woman who complained about how she had to do everything in the house. “Not one thing will be done if I am not around”. She felt exhausted and worn out. So we got her admitted in the hospital for a few days. Guess what? The family did not die of starvation, there were no plague rats in the house and the kids did not flunk school. Was the woman happy? No she cried because no one needed her.

A woman’s sense of self worth seems to have become directly proportional to the sacrifices she feels she makes. “I sacrificed my career for my house” feels so much better than “I chose to look after my house.” Imagine you go out for a day out with your friends. You come back to see your husband and kids had fun all day, ate well, kids did homework and no tornado hit your house. Can you in all honesty tell me that you not a wee bit jealous? Did you not walk around the house to find a reason to complain maybe the packets of chilly flakes that did not go in the dustbin or the clothes that your husband did not hang?

A woman is the manifestation of all nine forms of Durga.

Shailaputri the daughter the one who is capable of looking after her parents but still has a desire to be pampered and taken care of. When was the last time you pampered yourself? Just made coffee for yourself and watched some movie without feeling guilty of all the pending work left. The daughter in you craves for pampering not from the father but from you. She wants you take care of yourself and spend time being a free spirit.

Bhramacharini who realizes that the world is not an easy place but will do all to make it work. The stern and firm attitude that we use to run our house or manage workplace; let us use it to look after ourselves. Let us use this inner austerity to live a healthy and beautiful life.

Chandraghanta, the one who brings peace and tranquility. What did I do for my inner peace today? What did I do to feel a sense of pleasure?  A lot of women have told me that they stopped pursuing their hobbies because work and home took priority. And you forgot that all work and no play make you dull. Let us find pleasure and let us find peace for ourselves. You can only give away what you have.

Kushmanda, the creator of light, while you light up the life of those around you, don’t forget that the universe includes you too. Learn something new even if it is not useful for career or family. Keep the light of knowledge on forever.

Skanda Mata, the fighter of evil, the protector. Fight the evil that surrounds you. Protect yourself too. Just because you are a woman does not mean you need to submit. Learn to say no and respect it. Choose your battles, find what is important to you and fight for it because no one else can fight for you.

Katyayani , the daughter, the one who makes the world realize that life can’t go on without a daughter. Be the one who respects the little girl within. Laugh at silly jokes and cry at stupid movies, we are after all the pond of these emotions.

Kaal Ratri, the dark skinned Goddess. The beauty that lies within all of us. Stop your body shaming! Respect your body, the colour of your skin, the weight of your body, the length of your hair does not matter. What matters is the shine in your eyes and the radiance of your smile which will only come when you accept that you are beautiful.

Gauri, the loving one. Love the way you are. Whether you work at the office or the home, whether you hold a doctorate or with no formal education, whether you can participate in master chef or can’t boil water, what matters is that you love yourself.

Siddhidatri, the healing one. Heal yourself before you attempt to change the world. The bitterness we carry for the world that does not treat us like Goddesses is ultimately destroying us. Treat yourself like the Goddess that you are. Offer yourself the prasad you like and the clothes you like. Healing starts from accepting that life is not perfect but it is still mine to live.

Change begins from within. Change the way you treat yourself.

These nine days let The Godddess within us realize her worth and change the world like only she can……

Dr. Gauri Nadkarni Choudhary
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