Book ‘Goddess & Whore’ listed among top notable books in poetry


with every tiny step i have dared to take, as a compulsive dreamer in the real world, i have remained immensely grateful to those who have taken notice of me and cared enough to nudge me on as a writer. and so, to be mentioned by someone as respected as Sudeep Sen is like a huge motivation for me. to watch my first book – Goddess & Whore – being listed among ‘notable books’ and alongside illustrious publishers like the Sahitya Akademi is indeed a humbling experience. coming from someone who mostly explores and expresses her thoughts through stories and essays, these musings were like sharing the most personal and vulnerable side of myself. since a couple of these musings were written during my school and college days, this body of work reflects the metamorphosis of my innermost being over the years…

besides, it’s always reassuring to know that we are still surrounded by secure people who can lend a word of encouragement. and it truly means the world to me. #grateful


Holi Wish


‘Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high. Where knowledge is free. Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls. Where words come out from the depth of truth. Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection. Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit. Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action into that heaven of freedom. My Father, let my country awake.’ – Tagore

Couldn’t wish for anything less than this, on an auspicious day like Holi. I wish you all a life filled with colours, love and compassion – Happy Holi! 

A Muse By My iPod



The dark clouds stealthily started to gather bit by bit, inching their way across the vast backdrop of the evening sky that contained only a tinge of the fading crimson from the setting sun. It seemed like the drop of watercolor that accidentally slips off the painter’s brush and dissolves into the blurry water. The drop had already lost most of its intensity by now. The chilly breeze ran about in child-like delight announcing the arrival of the rains to the thirsty earth that had endured the intensity of the sun all day long. I sat in my luxurious balcony perched on the twenty-fifth floor across the beach, with my pen and paper, pretending to play the quintessential writer, and searching the sky, the setting sun, the clouds, the earth and the chilly breeze for my muse to reveal itself from behind these. But my presence seemed inconsequential to the rest of the cosmic plot that unveiled itself with mesmerizing precision, almost as though someone had been softly announcing the cues from behind an invisible drape. I continued to relentlessly elbow my way through the wide yonder looking for my place in the serene landscape.

It occurred to me just then how much the concept of love resembles the skies above me. I have heard people often declare what love means to them. It dawned on me that just like the vast limitless sky love is infinite and immeasurable, and what meets our eyes is simply an evidence of our restricted vision and our perennial need to define everything. There still exist depths of unstirred silence behind and beyond what our limited vision discerns. Just like love, the sky too dons different shades on different days each as much real or surreal as the other. While the warmth of the sun radiates in crystal blue on certain days, the pensive clouds give the sky a chimerical dreamlike appearance on other days. On some days, the colour of my tinted shades adds vibrant hues to my perception just as much as the presence or the absence of a person affects it. Then there are days when the city’s high-rises obscure the glorious firmament and distract my attention away from an unobstructed view. I know now that the sky is ‘love’ and ‘love’ is just like the sky – devoid of any single definition. It is simply a matter of belief and perception.

My gaze now returned to the earth which, like my heart, held in its bosom the warmth to nurture and create life after the skies had kissed it with rain and sun. But as my mind carelessly wandered about, my muse yet refused to appear before me this evening. By now, the sky had turned into a giant black hole within which sparkled a zillion fireflies! The clouds had melted into rains that tapped softly upon the earth bringing me a fresh scent of wet mud that lingered on in the darkness of the night. In some stretches of space within the compound walls, closer to the ground, the scent of wet mud blended with the fragrance of some wild flowers and leaves creating an untraceable soothing scent that appeared and disappeared as passers-by went past. Disappointed yet rejuvenated, I retired within the four walls of my room where my iPod lay. The soft yielding wires of my headphones had managed to entangle themselves for the hundredth time during the day.

My old discoloured iPod, on several inspiring evenings and sleepless nights, has gently walked me through or even rescued me from slipping into the black hole that exists within me; this black hole has no fireflies in it. The music that plays is the resonance of my own choices and inputs into it, so much like the mechanics of my own mind. From time to time the iPod needs to be recharged too. And when its wires get tangled and messed up as my own life often does, I am required to patiently untangle those knots one by one each time. I plug in the earphones now and pick up the pen as soon as this uncanny similarity strikes my eyes. It seems as though my muse has not stood me up this evening after all. It paid me a visit, just when I had stopped looking for it, just where I had least expected it to be. The soft tapping of the raindrops continued outside my window as the forces continued with their business. As for me, it was time to pick up my pen once again and put it to good use.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2014



The scales I bore
to wade through
the deep dark waters
with time
started to peel,
the feathers I wore
to vanish
into the vast night sky
one day seemed
ruffled and torn,
my limbs too
that I had carried
to reach out to another
now seemed worn and weak,
my skin
once as bright as moonlight
turned wan and wrinkled.
Yet as I lay
in unstirred silence
still and restful
under the star-filled sky
my mind wandered light
far and beyond
in complete wonder and glee
as never before!

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2014

Back To Bengal

Source: Madhurima

Source: Madhurima

The City of Joy Lay Within Me

I was setting foot into the city of joy – Kolkata – after more than twelve years. This was the city where I was born, the city that had selflessly lent me my very first sense of identity and belonging. Even before I had realised, the city and its culture had infused in me mega portions of ‘Kolkata’ that had refused to abandon me in spite of my apparent disconnect with this place later in life. There was more ‘Bengal’ within me than there was ‘me’ in Bengal. I was now anxious to see how my disdainful NRI heart would react to this culturally rich and memories-clad city.

“Didi, do you need some help with your luggage?” asked a gentleman in Bangla at the Kolkata international airport.

A sudden sense of comfort and excitement consumed me as I could instantly relate to the language that held the status of being my ‘Mother Tongue’. Since this was the language used at home, I instantly related ‘speaking in Bangla’ with ‘being at home’. I had a hunch now that this would be a trip that I would treasure for the rest of my life.

As we crossed the city outskirts from the airport, the driver introduced me to localities and monuments that I struggled hard to recognise. One after the other, the city cheekily started throwing hints at me. I saw the tramline and even crossed the Victoria Memorial Hall that looked no less majestic than the Vatican in Rome! It brought back memories of my visits there as a child with my grandparents. I realised now that there was little that I had managed to forget about this lovable city, perhaps a handful of facts had faded away, but they seemed irrelevant now. And so, in spite of suffering the temptation of playing the quintessential visitor, I decided to rely on that little inner voice that cried ‘this feels like home!’

But I was here on another commitment. I was here for less than half a day before heading off to my next destination, IIT Kharagpur. As the noise of buses and trams poured into my ears, my practical NRI heart began to melt into the nostalgic Bengali’s heart once again. The only respite now was that my next destination was no less significant, though in a completely different way.

An Adopted Alumnus of IIT Kharagpur

After a two-hour drive from Kolkata I reached Kharagpur, a place with which I share a strong connection even without having visited the place even once. The unassuming route, replete with rustic charm, led me into this colossal college campus. On this side of the institute gate there stood a different world – quiet, clean, extending beyond the distant horizon.

Coming from a family where most around me had graduated from IIT Kharagpur and other IITs, this venerated acronym had clung on to me almost like a second name, though none in my family would have ever imagined my remotest association with this esteemed institute. But here I was, heading to that very IIT to don a judge’s hat at their prestigious National Level Debate and Mighty Pen contest at their annual Spring Fest.

The common thread that connected me with this feisty bunch of students I encountered here was our independent thinking. We shared a love for expressing our opinions unabashedly and unapologetically. We revelled in our non-agreement and our ability to question prevailing mindsets. After all, only an enquiring spirit could make one think, question and pave the way for progress.

There seemed a strange similarity between these students and my book ‘Goddess & Whore’ too. Both celebrated the questioning spirit and the freedom of the eternal human spirit. My book had finally found the right home in the hands of these eloquent orators and budding paradigm-shifters. It was an honour for me, as a judge, to hand out copies of ‘Goddess & Whore’ to these winners. I returned with a heart full of good memories and an acquired status of being upgraded to an ‘Adopted Alumnus’ of this prestigious institution.

Source: Madhurima; at IIT Kgp Spring Fest 2014.

Source: Madhurima; students at IIT Kgp Spring Fest 2014 showcase the book ‘Goddess & Whore‘.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2014

Soulful Celebration: Dedicated To My Dear Friend, Amrit Barman. Rest in Peace.

Source: Madhurima; View from Amber Park

Source: Madhurima; View from Amber Park

as the bougainvillea danced carelessly in the breeze
dislodged and lured away
for the first time
from its abode and attachment,
how inappropriate the name ‘bougainvillea’ felt
for a flower this playful and humble and carefree

of course the violet beauty
seemed oblivious and least intrigued
by this insignificant detail
as it continued its soulful dance
and why wouldn’t it—
it was free at last!

as it waltzed with the breeze
completely in love and admiration
higher and higher it ascended into the blue sky –
moving in quick concentric circles
all at once it swung into a graceful swirl
like the sacred smoke of an incense stick

it was free at last
thus its celebration justified
free from its bondage with the earth
free from having to selflessly appease
the butterflies and the bees
free to sing its own song at long last

my eyes followed it as it moved higher up
into the vast blue unknown
and then like magic
it disappeared
as if the violet petals
had burst into thin dust.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2014; book Goddess & Whore.

Ceiling Of Solitude




Like a single strand of hair
the frail fracture runs
across the bare ceiling
over my pillow space,
those black twisty cuts
have thickened with time
revealing at last
its lonely weathered face,
it has carried
the unbearable weight
of the rickety ol’ fan
that has turned each blade
in monotonous reflex
bowing to orders
like its enslaved clan,
I see cobwebs
stealthily spread
their tangled tentacles
o’er the sprawling white
that stares steadily at me
as I stare back
mocking each other
and seeking solace
in the still stifling night.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

‘You Think Only Women Are Stereotyped?’



I often recall my childhood days when my cousins and I would get to meet each other more often; boy what a riot that would be! From my father’s side of the family, we were four brothers and five sisters, I being the youngest. My maternal cousins were of course much younger then, so I couldn’t quite reveal my demonic self as unapologetically as I did with my equally mischievous yet doting paternal cousins. Placing our age differences aside we would indulge in pulling each other’s leg, watching horror or comedy films, going on picnics and gorging on restaurant (junk) food every time we got together!

Over the years life has taken us in different directions where we have forged new ties and made new commitments as a companion, as a parent or even as an ambitious professional. But I have realised of late that in spite of our being so preoccupied with our respective lives that have moved at varying paces like parallel universes, our bond has remained intact, quite effortlessly in fact. I suppose it is the pure honesty within the relationship that has refused to fade off with time and so, on the eve of the release of my book ‘Goddess & Whore‘, I wrote a text-message to my eldest cousin brother, without a second thought.

In dizzying nervousness I sent him an image of my book’s cover that hadn’t yet been revealed to anyone. After that I waited in excited anticipation for his response that I have always greatly valued. After a couple of minutes I received a text message that read:

‘The title and artwork look exciting and provocative! What is the book about?’

This was a question that I could answer even in my sleep these days since I have had to ramble on about the book in the press release, the book’s cover and other collaterals too. In fact, I must have sounded just as rehearsed as I had feared I would as the well-manicured words poured out of me:

Goddess & Whore is about a woman’s journey, after she decides to disentangle herself from all her social identities, relationships and abuses only to discover her true identity. This story is conveyed through a collection of modern poems that question traditional mindsets and relationships even as they celebrate life and the bonds we share with each other. ’

The number of questions tossed at me from the other side was now increasing even as the time gap between them was steeply declining. I decided to rise to the occasion and brave the barrage of questions with utmost precision and honesty. We spoke of every dreadful word that had given me sleepless nights, like: promotion, marketing, timelines, pricing, et all. Anyway, just when I thought that I had managed to tackle the more difficult questions, I was asked why the book was titled Goddess & Whore. This had also by now become one of the FAQs that I could answer in a trance, though I still stood by every word I uttered:

‘Well you see, we dwell in snap judgments and extremities. We either glorify women as a mother or a goddess expecting her to be an epitome of selflessness, or we blame her for being a home-breaker or a whore! We are so used to stereotyping women that we are not able to accept her as an ordinary human being with desires and aspirations and her share of inadequacies and imperfections.’

Until now most of what I had explained had been received with appreciation and without the slightest demur. But following the last reply I sensed uneasiness at the other end. After a brief pause my brother replied:

‘You think men are not stereotyped? You think they have it easy?’

Those last few words suddenly seemed to stir within me a zillion stray thoughts that I wouldn’t quite say I was a stranger to, though it was very rarely that we dealt with it on an ordinary day. Things like, ‘It is not usual to see a man emotional. They don’t cry or get hurt as easily’ and so on. Men too are judged all the time. And more often than not they aren’t even granted the allowance to play the ‘victim’.

After some thought I informed him that the collection represented every human being as anyone could relate to the inner quest, the urgent need to realise one’s purpose in life, just that I had chosen my protagonist to be a woman…for a reason better known to me. I typed back:

‘Thankfully, poetry allows several equally plausible interpretations with no right or wrong answers but just an honest experience. The poems represent the eternal conflict within every human being and the constant search for a sense of peace. Hence, as the book mentions on its back-cover too, the poems represent the transformation of every human being in the course of his or her journey towards self discovery.’

He wished me luck and left me with my thoughts once again.

Now available on Kindle too!

Now available on Kindle too!

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Goddess & Whore Listed Under ‘BEST FICTION BOOKS’

Now available on Kindle too!

Now available on Kindle too!

‘Goddess & Whore’ has been listed under the ‘BEST FICTION BOOKS’ category on BookAdda. The book has also been showcased on BookAdda’s Home page, along with three other noted titles! …This might seem as a ‘no big deal’ to most reasonable people, but somehow I just can’t stop smiling at the thought!…cheers to all!

The book is now available on Amazon and Kindle too.


© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

The Corset Strings

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

The corset I wear
torments my frame
forcing me inwards
as I crumble
into a heap
day after day
‘n’ withdraw deep
into my rib cage
where quietly rests
my aching heart.
Those unforgiving fingers
to which
in complete faith
I’ve surrendered
the strings
of my baroque corset
that mother wove
so they could fix my robe
firm and taut,
they quietly continue
to tighten their grip
o’er my chest, my waist
and even my neck.
I gaze in pain
into my mirror like before
just this time
I can see me in it no more.
I resolve never again to stare
at the old reflection
within that betrayer—
nor do I want
to fight those hands
and their diabolical plot,
instead I wait
long suffering
through every twisting force
on my soft pale skin
so I’m rid of the corset
and the oppressed frame.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Autobiography Of A Writer’s Notebook


“Look closely this time into the white spaces of my pages and you might perhaps get a glimpse of that destiny that had been gifted to me by a force that invariably fails to be explicit and unambiguous, leaving every precious detail of life indefinable just so the likes of me can learn to discover ourselves. My pages were bound to preserve the honest musings of a dreamer or poet, though none of this I would have known if it wasn’t for that dark-eyed gentleman who bought me. He was a well-known writer, I am told, though rumour had it that as a boy he had dreamt of being an adventurous sailor, just that his father had imagined a much quieter life for his son. And hence, he and I met…

You see, had this writer not torched my heart with stories of insane murders and deceit that made me cringe within, I would have perhaps remained oblivious of what I so desired to fill my pages with – poetry. And so I loathe that man just as much as I owe this revelation to him too, as it was on that terrifying and fateful day that I remembered the destiny once read out to me and inscribed on every inch of whiteness that seemed blank to most of you. All this while, the imperceptible had waited in silence for the obvious to happen. And my pages were forced to overwrite their desire with someone else’s bruised sense of purpose. I was writing a destiny that wasn’t mine. I was made into a thriller novel that barely resonated with what I was meant to be. Like a million others around me including my offender, I too was living another man’s dream. The single consolation that I now zealously held on to was that I had discovered, at least, what I was born to do; was that a blessing anymore or a curse instead?

I quietly wait now with pages filled with lines that speak of intrigue and lust, violence and mistrust. I get the impression, that is what appeals to men most…and I wonder why. I survive the wait and the weight of those words forced upon me as the lines of poetry and love groan unheard underneath the facade that is meant only for sale. Until one miraculous night, the enchanting moonlight spills on my ruffled pages and washes off every vulgar word written with dishonesty. I feel light once again after a very long time. Those words of love and nature rise and fill every space with their beauty and joy! I am no longer a ‘thriller novel for sale’ that looks like every other book on the shelf but a ‘book of poetry’ for the dreamer instead. These days, I only wait for the moonlight to melt away my miseries so I can come alive for a short while…”

“…As the feather gracefully descended
back to the moist earth

the breeze softly whispered to it –
i’m carrying you to a poet’s study
for her muse should write your destiny.”

(**this concluding stanza has been borrowed from Goddess &Whore)

Now available on Amazon, Flipkart, BOOKadda!

Now available on Amazon, Flipkart, BOOKadda!

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Press Release: Goddess & Whore, Now Available Worldwide

Goddess & Whore: Now available on BOOKadda, Flipkart, Amazon, Kindle, and in selected bookstores across India!

Goddess & Whore: Now available on BOOKadda, Flipkart, Amazon, Kindle and in selected bookstores across India!

October 2013, Singapore.

Goddess & Whore – a collection of modern poems – reaches bookstores worldwide this festive season.

Goddess & Whore – a collection of modern poems – weaves into a vivid narrative of a woman’s journey as she steps out of her various social identities and abuses to discover the true meaning to her existence. What begins as a nagging sense of disquiet and discontent evolves into a quest for inner peace. She draws inspiration from nature and begins to disentangle herself from all those relationships and resentments that she once carried, and only then does she discover her real indestructible self and makes the crossover that signifies the transformation of a being.

The poems celebrate the joys of womanhood and the beauty of nature even as they address certain social issues like the position of women, the rejection of the girl child, the violence against women, the traditions of fasting, and dated customs and rituals; and all these concerns culminate into a single question – ultimately what matters?

“The book aspires to convey the simple desire of a woman to be accepted for who she is, along with her dreams and aspirations, follies and foibles. She doesn’t wish to be glorified as a goddess nor be despised as a whore. At a broader level, this sentiment holds true for all human beings, whether man or woman,” explains Madhurima. “The book is available on Flipkart, BOOKadda, Amazon, Kindle and also in selected bookstores across India.”

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Blacks Amidst Blue



I looked intently from behind my veil
for a face that would read my eyes,
but all I saw was a flock of crows
that teased my drape with their vicious cries.
I wondered if it was the veil
or the screeching crows that caused more stir,
a stray thought chivvied that rummaged my all
and ere long robbed me of every hope.
I sat still as that was all
I was ever wont to do,
the sky was filled with screams of crows
I watched in gloom the blacks ‘midst the blue.
Tattered and soiled yet my veil remains
my old ally, my guise, my hide, my sole refuge —
it saved me from the spite they felt
when they learnt it was a girl.
Their regret and fear form my prison walls
unyielding, rigid, lifeless and cold,
the sky would make a warmer drape,
your assuring eyes would’ve harboured hope.
For long I wait to rid myself
of the curtain that thwarts my view,
to watch it torn down with deep disdain
and pour back my breath into the vast open blue.
A strange disquiet pervades my soul,
tears of anguish threaten to spill,
for one last time I close my eyes
and explode in flames to question the skies…

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

My Goodness…My Goddess!


Source: Madhurima (2010); getting a tattoo made of the Goddess Durga

Source: Madhurima (2010); getting a tattoo made of Goddess Durga

Source: Madhurima (2010); That's me with my goddess!

Source: Madhurima (2010); That’s me with my goddess!

The most potent concoction of fragrances that contains a zillion memories of my treasured past is the scent that fills the air in India during the start of the autumn season announcing the festival of Goddess Durga (better known as Durga Puja). The air, just rightly nippy, smells of fresh earth and paddy fields, flowers, incense sticks and camphor almost as though nature has performed its own celestial ritual of cleansing the space inside and outside all of us. Petite white flowers called the Shiuli with their sleek and slender crimson stalks and delicate lingering fragrance bloom in several parts of the country setting the stage for Goddess Durga to return home to visit her parents and family. We are her family. Like most children hers too latch on to their mother, and her four children – Lakshmi (Goddess of true wealth), Saraswati (Goddess of knowledge and arts), Ganesh (God of fortune) and her youngest son Kartik (God of valor and bravery) accompany her on her annual sojourn to her parents’ abode. Like a dutiful and beautiful wife and mother she embarks on her vacation home with her gorgeous children in tow where we welcome her with open arms.

For people of Bengal, who hail from the eastern part of India, this time of the year marks a special significance as they prepare for this festival, irrespective of which part of the country or world they live in. However, I must confess to being perennially struck down by nostalgia and thus highly unsuccessful in finding or replicating that spirit and space around me since I have moved out of India. I haven’t the slightest doubt that this is solely a matter of my own deficiencies and inabilities, but I am still to find those soul-quenching beats of the drum (dhaak) that I had heard in my childhood with my grandparents beside me. It was an explosion of energy that created a vibrato within my ribcage as every molecule and heartbeat in me resonated with that breathtaking rhythm. It was an overwhelming feeling, I recall distinctly. Since my grandfather always insisted on reaching the venue early during the evening prayers so he could hear the dhaak, I had the luxury of tagging along with him. The rest of the family joined the two of us much later after getting appropriately decked-up for the evening’s function that followed. During the prayers that my grandfather and I attended every Saptami (the seventh day of the festival) and Ashtami (the eight day) evenings the air smelt of incense sticks and fruits and flowers. The space smelled sacred.

In those days too, there used to be the ceremonial ‘dhunuchi’ dance on the eighth day of the festival (quite a stunt really!) where men and women carrying an earthenware filled with a layer of smouldering coconut husk sprinkled with incense and camphor, danced to the frenzying beats of the dhaak as they offered their prayers before the majestic idol through their dance. I have always wanted to perform that dance but my courage has always failed me at the eleventh hour. Perhaps one day I will. It was after this prayer that the crowd would begin to thicken and the air would start to smell of perfume and flowers, as the pandal (marquee) would fill up with gorgeously dressed men and women and their jubilant laughter and music. Where there are Bengalis, there must be music, arts, good non-vegetarian delicacies and of course sweets! And so these pandals were outlined by several food stalls that sold mouth-watering cuisine prepared by some of the most talented culinary-craftsmen!

Every stall was engulfed by a distinct aroma that would entice passers-by seducing and pulling them closer and closer till they succumbed completely to its hypnotic effect. Right from egg-roles, mutton roles, the inimitable moglai parotas, kebabs and cutlets, biriyani, luchi-aloor dum, delectable Bengali desserts, to tea, coffee, ice cream, mineral water and Coca-Cola…they had it all! The rankings of these stalls would soon spread through word-of-mouth by their boisterous clientele. Some stalls even ran out of food if we reached late! And there I’d be, in my gorgeous new clothes, running around with my friends far away from the jurisdiction of my parents who were only approached for money. Grandma had her own food stall that would be robbed of every morsel of grub even before we got there for a second or third helping. Grandpa played the quintessential consumer with utmost passion and humour.

On some afternoons there would be fun competitions like quiz contests, singing contests, drawing contests, among others. The most interesting among these was the ‘shankha-dhwani pratiyogita’ that tested the longest one could blow the conch shell without pausing for a breath. It was a test of one’s lung-power. The year I participated in that contest, I must have been in my eighth grade in school. Grandma would train me every afternoon and teach me the tricks and the science of the trade; she always taught me to be sincere and to honour every challenge that was tossed at me. I remember how I was introduced to the lady who had won year after year in that contest. I defeated her that year. I played the conch for over a minute, breaking even the record set in the past years!

Another specialty of these afternoons was the ‘bhog’ (a special menu of food that is cooked fresh by dedicated volunteers and cooks for offering to the Goddess) that was served to all of us on plates made of dried palm-leaves. Somehow the concept of catered food and packaged plates containing a formula-44 menu that I could easily purchase at just any restaurant seems like a disturbing and a much altered variant of the ‘bhog’. The concept of self-service rather than having volunteers running around to serve the hungry devotees seems like an unfortunate inference of ‘convenience’. In my younger days some of us eagerly volunteered to serve the piping hot khichudi or pulao that had been offered to the deity on that day. We learnt to put our own hunger aside to first feed the elderly and the children.

By the time I moved to college, we were in Baroda (a beautiful city in the western part of India) where these nine days of the Navratri festival were celebrated in a completely different style though it carried the same spirit as that of the Durga Puja! People danced in thousands, in concentric circles, to the beats of Gujarati folk music that mainly sang praises to the Lord Krishna or Goddess Durga. As though in a trance this huge wave of men and women dressed in colourful ghagra cholis and other traditional Guajarati dresses undulated in rhythmic grace for most part of the night. I would join my friends at the Garba grounds after marking my attendance at the Durga Puja pandal.

But beneath all the celebrations what few noticed was my growing faith in Goddess Durga. Every time I stood before the beautiful idol of the Goddess I felt humbled and overwhelmed as I would be consumed by a deep sense of calmness and assurance. Even today, from time to time, I have found strength and courage in those eyes. I have always known how much grit and determination lay within a woman’s heart – as a mother, as a daughter or even as a wife – and I have turned to that strength from time to time to fuel my own mind with that powerfulness and energy. However, I have never prescribed to the idea of glorifying a living woman as a goddess since I believe that the goodness and goddess resides within every human being, be it a girl or a boy. I have often found the crowds overlooking the finer (and more real) facets and honest desires of the human heart every time they have focussed their energies on putting one on a pedestal where one can be tagged as ‘selfless hence divine’.

The concept of God is personal and can be practised in a million ways but to derive a shallow corollary from that seems utterly convenience-based and therefore totally unacceptable. Goddess Durga always reminds me of the power of good over evil. I have seen a glimpse of Durga in several people beyond their basic identities and differences. During this festive season, I pray sincerely that we all imbibe the capability to notice the divinity in every human being and also respect the free human spirit, instead of being overwhelmed by the external façade.

Jai Mata Di! Joi Maa Durga!



© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013