The Devi in the Working Woman | Queer Feminist Navratri

Let your sixth Kanchika go to a working woman.

Eyes bursting forth through spectacles, with hair parting decorated with vermillion, she walks effortlessly with iron chains broken now sported as payals. Her wallet has a picture of her lover and her children. In a business suit, she carries a laptop in a satchel, and a spear with a red cloth tied under the summit. Thus I meditate on Mridani, Dhoorjata, who sustains that which is blissful and stabs that which is baneful.

The goddess whom many discus as greedy and hankering for material wealth does not defend herself against these pitiful attacks. She simply mocks how a working man is never called greedy for material wealth even when he neglects his family. The Goddess decorates her spear with vermillion from her own forehead. Her spectacles are without rims.

Each night the goddess returns to her abode after bestowing increase on where she works. And she is joined by her lover on some nights in the kitchen, where they each cook something for the other. On other nights, she orders pizza. Her kids love pizza.

The goddess’s anger claws at all who refuse her dignity, equal payment and those who seek to shove her one way. In her anger she destroys delusions. In calm, she engages in providing for those she holds dearest. And in playfulness, she skips along with every step.

Om Aim; we meditate on She who is a huntress out to take out evils in the hearts of her beholders, if not the hearts themselves. She who illuminates the welcome blurring of gender boundaries, we meditate on Her.

Om Hrim; we meditate on she who strives to earn even while getting lesser payments, limited career choices and far too many taunts on character.

Om Klim; we meditate on She who brandishes her spear to silence those who raise war cries against her.

Om Aim Hrim Klim Chamundayai Vicche Namah.


The Devi in the Adivasi Woman | Queer Feminist Navratri

The Devi in the Adiwasi Woman | Queer Shaktism

Let your Fifth Kanchika go to an Adivasi woman

Stomach growling in hunger, she cuts wild grass with a blood stained sickle. Nostril decorated with a single wire of gold and hand decorated with lac bracelets, Her neck bears a lace of wooden beads. Weighed down by a sleeping child, evading firing and fear mongerers alike, we meditate on Sita, surrounded by look-alikes of Rama, catching mice to cook because none would bring home any grain.

The Adivasi goddess sits by the pot as the pot boils with roots and bits of meat. She fans the cool morning stream-side breeze towards the fire, cooking something for the child before she goes off to work the field. Her husband has been taken away by the rebels and elder daughter by the army. She has lost patience waiting for either to return.

Her hip bears the marks of fingers after she was assaulted three days ago by four youth. She has gotten used to it; it is part of her life now. Held captive in the stolen fortress, She was supposed to be the demise of the thief. But all she does is sit by the pot and brew the stew.

She mocks the patronising preacher with his eloquent words and promise of wonderful places to go after the small sacrifice. She mocks the man who bangs the table with both fists saying it is the here and now that should be managed.

Om Aim; we meditate upon She who wields the ladle and breaks the necks of those who claim to bringing her benefit through their guns.

Om Hrim; we meditate on Her who sings of tigers and stars as the rifle and sickle fight in her backyard, waiting for them to go so she can dry the loincloth on the tamarind tree,

Om Klim; we meditate on She who growls at those who approach her to help her, who tears down the ego of those who lay claim to godhood by brandishing of manhoods.

Om Aim Hrim Klim Chamundayai Vicche Namah.

The Devi in the Widow | Queer Feminist Navratri

Let your fourth Kanchika go to a Widow.

Carrying a water pot, with payals of silver, She is draped in a Sari red and white. Her copper and silver hair flows straight. She steps on the old rag of menstrual blood. With skin marked with onslaughts of time and effort, her neck is marked with Chandan and soles are caked in ash. Thus I meditate on the ever auspicious Bhadra, who pervades effortlessly as time edges forward.

The old goddess is turned away by her erstwhile worshipers as her Bhairav moves forward. She is stripped of the riches that she once had the privilege of wearing, and sometimes she escapes being drowned in the river with Bhairav’s vigraha too. She sits close to crematoriums, and then finds her way to temples of love where she is fearfully rebuked and still propitiated with sugar. Her lean frame does not mind.

She is confined to storehouses where other used images of her likening sit and murmur about love. She is instructed to nourish herself by the consumption of the troubles of her propitiators. Her many mouths never have enough for her many bellies. One day of the year, she is celebrated as she plays in colour and festive flower heaps. The rest of the time she dances in the confines of her small quarters.

Om Aim; we meditate on the one who illuminates life and the unworthiness of sorrow in life due to death, even as others beseech her to cry.

Om Hrim; we meditate upon She who clothes and feeds her likenings from the same ritual offerings of sugary water.

Om Klim; we meditate on the one who scares the nonchalant by her fangs, holding red and yellow flowers for the beloved she chooses because of his immortal repute.

Om Aim Hrim Klim Chamundayai Vicche Namah.

The Devi in the Rape Survivor | Queer Feminist Navratri

The Devi in the Resilient Rape Survivor | Queer Feminist Navratri

Let your third Kanchika go to a Resilient Rape Survivor.

With fierceness parallel to a thunder cloud, defying the trick of grovelling gravelled mountains seeking to hide her, she shines forth with crackling bolts of thunder, driving hyenas to the far horizons. As gravel on mountains tear through curly dark locks, she defies the mark of the oppressed, and rains bolts of lightning, striking the pebble grey. We meditate upon Bhairavi, who defies death and dormancies of demureness, striking terror and shock to the earth that presents itself as mother but pushes mountains further up to cause terror.

The Survivor Goddess laments and then defies the patriarchal treatment to make a raped person go underground to protect her “honour”. She defies it by announcing herself as a survivor and not as a victim. She speaks her name, walks unashamed and unhindered, shelters all victims everywhere. She is decried by the followers of Brahma who spoke ill of the Normless One, and She holds aloft the head of patriarchy and oppression. She is called names by the Paataki who call themselves pure. But Her rage is quelled by Her compassion; for when She gets tired and puts the severed head down on the earth, all shall end.

Om Aim; we pay our respects to She who tears apart darkness of shame and blissful ignorance to bring forth real plights of countless people of all genders who go through what most of us don’t.

Om Hrim; we pay our respects to Her who brings hundreds who had survived bleak circumstances to courage, determination to live a good life, and recognition outside of patriarchal speculations of character and occupation.

Om Klim; we pay our respects to Her, who stirs the status quo, who has sparked transformations galore, whose refusal of docility shall keep on sparking a million mutinies in a million hearts, where the “sharam laaj” will be the woman’s to accept or give up, not the society’s to thrust or deny.

Om Aim Hrim Klim Chamundayai Vicche Namah

This post in particular I dedicate to the wonderful lady who awoke me to see the oppression that goes with gender. I never met Her, but if I ever were to meet her in the heavens, I’d bow to her.

The Devi in the Trans Woman | Queer Feminist Navratri

Queer Feminist Navratri | Queer Shaktism

Let your second Kanchika go to a Transwoman.

Eyes the colour of conches coloured by kohl, she sits by a window, laughing fearlessly, chewing on the sweet pan. Her right hand is decorated with a string of garnets and her breasts covered by a blue blouse. With forehead marked with musk and kumkum, she holds a vajra and a khatvanga. We meditate on Kali who plays as a man to manifest as the woman she is.

Held a criminal by millions for hundreds of woman, the transwoman is the indomitable Kali, who takes up her weapons to preserve herself when everybody else is ready to tear her to pieces. Aided by close confidantes, she fights for herself, and then as she becomes victorious, she extends her fighting prowess to those in need of protection.

Taking birth as a man to discard all the excess of manhood, she fights her womanhood and then joins forces with it. The goddess is shunned as unholy by the wandering ascetic, but she mocks him when he reaches the final gate and has to give up his gendered body.

People walk away when She stands on the hill, on the valley or on the path to the market. And She has lived a life being secluded for far too long, taking painful pleasure at being the scary one for far too long. She walks fierce, still horrifying those trapped in dualities, liberating those who see beyond the twos and threes to the two.

Om Aim; we pay our respects to the highest form of divinity who breaks barriers of ignorance and washes and drowns out demons of oppression and haughtiness.

Om Hrim; we pay our respects to She who gives shelter and sustenance to those discarded by their own families and those whose families were deemed unholy.

Om Klim; we pay our respects to She who tears down illusions and those who perpetrate illusions as compulsory qualifications.

Om Aim Hrim Klim Chamundayai Vicche Namah.

The Devi in the Lesbian | Queer Feminist Navratri

Queer Feminist Navratri

Let your first Kanchika For Navratri go to a Lesbian.

With hair dishevelled and forehead marked with a lip mark, she sits with a whip and a mirror as both ornament and weapon. Her dark skin sports an unapologetic blemish. She is red in tone everywhere except her hair parting. Thus we meditate on Adya manifested as a lesbian.

There is no doubt that the lesbian is a trampled goddess, stomped upon by the patriarchy that repeatedly employs her cousin to rape her. But she fights with seething anger her parents who force her into marriage with a boy. She cries war cries with incessant rage as her lover is plucked from her arms and put into the prohibitive custody of a cousin who will soon be her husband.

Her heels are tempted to dig into the clicking tongues of rat like neighbours. Her back craves the nail marks of her lover. She wipes away the kohl of modesty that fights to shut her open three eyes instead of dissolving impurity in vision.

In anger, her mouth lets loose the tongue that once caressed the depths of her lovers’ souls, to melt and rout her chains like sugar crystals. Her heat melts the gold beads of the mangal sutra that seeks to contain her identity to somewhere she despises being.

Om Aim; we pay our respects to her who takes and gives cognizance of womanhood without a man to define it.

Om Hrim; we pay our respects to she who is loving, devoted and eager to shower love as she deems fit, on her who takes to her in love or flow.

Om Klim; we pay our respects to she who tears apart that which seeks to contain her as a river which kicks the unbaked pot of wet clay which sought to gargle and spit her on a pavement, she who sparks adulation in the heart and inspires resiliences to 377 problems.

Om Aim Hrim Klim Chamundayai Vicche Namah.


Queer Feminist Navratri | Queer Shaktism

Queer Feminist Navratri

I can almost hear people struggling to contain themselves from calling me a patriarch (for deifying women?) or an anti-Hindu (for deifying women outside of popular tradition’s injunction). So I’m going to give you the pleasure. Here is a nine day series which will seek to deify women who have largely been left to the sides in popular discourse. If all women are Devi, then there are several Devi manifestations we are missing or dismissing.

Starting Navratri, I shall write on 9 women shrugged to the side, even as we brandish our batons tied with red festoons in a bid to venerate Shakti, the feminine principle of Hindu philosophy.

I shall attempt to keep the posts free of unnecessary emphasis on physical beauty of the Goddesses, focusing more on their characters and traits. Because the Goddesses come in all shapes and sizes, even as I write only on 9.

In case I do come off as a jerk while writing these posts, please be merciful to me and tell me what is problematic. I wish to spark a debate on women’s rights using the auspicious time, and no debate has ever existed with just one point of view.