I got up in the morning early today as today is a special day. It’s Ashtami pooja. This day conjures up so many memories and stories… memories that bring smile to my lips. I remember being a small girl frolicking in some cute attire, being invited to the entire neighbourhood, carrying a plate, and going from one house to the next while others waited patiently for their turn for me (and other girls my age) to visit their place.
It was a busy, busy time. I was no less than a celebrity that day. Or a deity, as the men of the household told me washing my feet reverently. I didn’t know what that meant but I didn’t care either. Especially when I got to lay my hands on more money than I could handle and other girlie things while doing little except looking pretty and savouring delicious halwa-poori.
I carried on the tradition after getting married like any ordinary Punjabi woman would, of course on the other side of the table now. Traditions have a way of getting into our psyche and becoming a part of who we are. I love little girls and their cuteness, I prepare traditional prasad for them all smiling and excited every year – twice. So, today while I was doing that, my 7-year-old son was curious as to what was that all about. I told him all about Navratras and Durga Ma and how we think little girls are in her image, so they are little deities in their own right, smug at my knowledge of my religion.
He nodded contemplating each piece of information. He was fine with all that. But not surprisingly he wanted to understand why we have a celebration like this only for girls. “When is the boy-worshipping day, then? When not Durga Ma but some other male god is having his time?” was his question.
That got me thinking. Deep. Why don’t we have a boy-worshipping day? The more I thought, the more I realized: it is (not so) subtle misogyny at play. Yet again! Can we imagine a day when all the boys in the neighbourhood are gathered and worshipped? It will be ridiculous. And unnecessary. Not to mention oh-so- politically-incorrect.
Perhaps we worship (or so we pretend for a day) girls because at some level we don’t feel they are the same as boys? They deserve special treatment for a day. And also, a very tricky and effective message is sent deep into girls’ conditioning along with all this ritualistic hullabaloo: that you are expected to behave in a certain way, poised, holy, conforming to sanctity of society, and not like your real self. You are a deity for God’s sake!
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