For Bengalis around the world, perhaps the most important five days of the year begin today. It’s Mahashoshti, the first major day of Durga Puja. But there’s more to it than wearing new saris, visiting pandals and eating good food. Durga, the Mother, represents the spirit of every woman, and her innate power and strength. Five actors tell us what Durga means to them.
Maa Durga has been an integral part of my life. I want to be a mother, a wife, a daughter and a woman like her. We have a saying in Bengali: whenever you are missing courage, if you feel weak, just say, ‘Durga, Durga’ and Maa enters your body. And when she’s there, fear leaves you.
For me, Maa Durga represents the power of women, and for me, that is my sister Pooja (Bhatt). She has always fought against what is wrong.
Durga represents power and courage. And for me, the woman who represents that is my grandmother. After my family was displaced from Pakistan during the Partition, she was the one who set up our house in Delhi, and she never lost courage.
I think all women have a Durga and a Kali in them. The only difference is that some of them discover it earlier and some need a traumatic event to evoke them. So men, beware!
Every woman has those nine avatars of Durga. I find her reflection in every woman. Celebrating Durga Puja is about celebrating the several facets of a woman.