Editorial: This Navratri, stop being another woman’s adversary

Editorial: This Navratri, stop being another woman's adversary

Why do we fast? Some of us fast to appease the gods we believe in, some of us fast because we were told it’s how we show devotion. Yet others fast because Ayurveda says it is good for your body; and some of us fast to prove to ourselves that we can. I personally don’t fast intentionally for anything. I routinely go the entire day without food but that’s mostly by chance and not design. When I was growing up, every summer holiday, I would see my grandmother fast for this god on this day, that god on the other. She showed absolutely no signs of fatigue, irritation or even the slightest change in mood during her fasting days. In fact, she would joyfully make yummy food for us, for the evening when she too would break her fast. I wouldn’t understand how she could do it or how strong her faith was.


But now, when I see women all around me fast with such faith and dedication, I wonder at the kind of woman each one is. Growing up, girls are taught to be pitted against each other. We are taught to compete for the attention of the men who will enter our lives. We are taught, as a society, to run other women down in order to look better. In a situation that involves one many and two women, whatever situation that might be -- lovers, in laws, friendships -- you’ll find it’s the two women who are fighting each other. Even worse, they’re both making excuses for the man, forgiving him his indecision, understanding his predicament but never seeing that if a man took a stand, then half the issues would be sorted. But no, women are warring each other, instead of being each other’s support system, instead of propping each other up, women are pulling each other down. When women come together, like all the Devis who came together to create Durga in order to vanquish Mahishasura, it can be a very powerful thing. I think it’s in my 30s that I started to recognise the power of a sisterhood. It is immensely more valuable to me when a woman compliments me or appreciates my work (unless the man is good looking, then, of course, all bets are off. Just kidding). I feel much more understood and recognised when I talk to women and tell them my deepest fears.


Watching an enactment of why we celebrate Navratri and the story of Durga in my kids’ school sparked the above thoughts in me earlier this week. That in order to create a world where our children are safe, supportive and, therefore, collectively successful, it is important that women come together, that women recognise each other as allies, not adversaries, and empower each other. It is the only way we can create a world that is peaceful, productive and empathic.


Empathy brings me to a story I wrote earlier this week about suicides and children. If we don’t recognise that our children live in a world that is very different from the one we grew up in, we are going to have children who are unable to talk to us, to tell us their insecurities and to ask us for help. And believe me, as someone who couldn’t communicate well with her parents for a while, I know how invaluable it is to have parents you can talk to. It’s simple: let’s be the parents that don’t drive our kids to suicide. Towards that effort, I believe, is taking time with kids to bond. Not just over a chat in the car or a trip to the mall or a picnic. But bond in a way that is unforgettable, where you test your own physical limits as well as theirs, by doing something that you are passionate about so that the kids learn about that side of you. Like this story about the couple who ditched the regular fancy birthday party and took a bunch of six-year olds rock climbing on their daughter’s birthday.


And lastly, but not the least, we carried three stories this week for those who live in Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai in case you want to plan offbeat short trips around the city you live in. These trips genuinely uncover places you haven’t really considered when planning a holiday. I am particularly partial to the Delhi ones.


I wish you all strength of the Mother Goddess this Navratri, and a very happy Dussehra. Until next week.