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Ahalyā draupadī sītā tārā mandodarī tathā ।

pancakanyah smaren nityaṃ mahāpātakanāśakam ॥

Early in my life, I heard this shloka of the 'Pratah Smarneeya Panch Kanya' which says that Draupadi, Ahilya, Tara, Seeta and Kunti/Mandodari  are the five holy virgins and by chanting their names first thing in the morning our sins are abated.

It made me realize the futility of adornments. The hollowness of words.
Those who were mauled and molested to be called eternal virgins! 

Somewhat like the Nirbhaya Act of our times.Where we fail on all grounds of humanity and morality, when we found ourselves worse than barbaric animals, we try to heal (?) and replenish by making the victims sit on a pedestal, converting them into saints, angels, Devis and martyrs.

There are innumerable examples of female stereotyping, but for me, it goes deeper than that. The basic reason for it seems to be the ability to give life which a woman possesses and a man does not. Perhaps this deep rooted insecurity of this power of her goaded him to create rules and traditions.This deep-set insecurity is in the psyche, as well as in the genes. 

So, she is either a Goddess, the pious and the giving one, benign, smiling benevolently, patient and forgiving OR a witch, the bloodthirsty one, selfish, conniving, sly and scheming. A Total terror. 
 Nowhere is she accepted as Manvi .. the Human. A person.
A person having small dreams and moderate aspirations. Lakhs of men can survive a dull life of daily drudgery with aplomb, but for a woman to be happy being just a teller is looked down upon! She needs to prove herself by being nothing less than a Kiran Mazumdar Shaw or an Indira Nooyi. Otherwise, her education is a waste! 

She is not accepted as a person with human weaknesses and human follies. Not allowed to falter in speech, dressing and behaviour!

It made me wary of being good or bad actually, of being labelled.
I was determined to be happy.
To take responsibility for my mistakes and credits of my heroic deeds which I seem to perform left, right and centre! (Yeah yeah, I am still pretty good there.)
I also felt most males as a bundle of clueless energy, not knowing in which direction they ought to run but I never felt them being better or lesser than females. They were just different..well, slightly. 

Hence, I faced the discrimination , the mindset, the stereotyping simply as a human and not as a female. I have actually taught myself that. Not to mind such comments/questions like,  You are a late riser? Don't you like cooking? You like wandering aimlessly?  yak-yak ..
Yes. I am an owl who likes to burn the midnight oil and why don't you take charge of the morning chores if YOU are an early riser? I enjoy cooking but I don't feel an adrenalin rush to realize that I have to be in the kitchen five times a day daily, like Forever! 

Munshi Premchand once  said, 

"If some traits of a male come in a female she becomes demonic and if the female traits enter in a male, he attains godliness."

Do not misinterpret it as he simply meant that The Perfect Raymond's Man, The Ideal Suitable Boy, when imbibes only a few of the feminine traits like of compassion, unending affection and patience, he becomes God!
Urvashi, our very own celestial nymph has said that to Pururva, her heroic and valiant lover, who was so smitten with her that in order to invoke her soft feelings he went on for days singing about his own heroic deeds! To which she simply replied -

 *देवालय में देव नहीं केवल मैं हूँ 
मेरी प्रतिमा को घेर उठ रही अगरु गंध 
बज रहा अर्चना में मेरी, मेरा नूपुर  

Meaning it's the masculine energy adorned with the feminine nature which makes him complete - a God from a warrior. Without her, he is just a doer, an achiever ..with 'her' he becomes a creator.
The feminine energy is that elixir which is said to be dripping from the hood of the deadliest venomous pythons and snakes, protecting them from their own poison. 

So I give two pence to dress up according to the in-thing and not even one paisa to be considered as an 'in-sync' person. I simply can not afford to care! 

I am the only sari-clad bahu in my entire family including the extended khandan.. simply because as a child I used to see my mother get ready for college in smooth shiny silks, pastel chiffons and crisp cottons with peacocks sauntering on her hems and creepers dangling coyly on the pallav! No one, including my strict and ultra-modern mum-in-law, could put me off from getting decked up in sarees! I would drape the whole six yard (anyhow) and emerge confidently to face the world rather dazedly pass through the world, as I used to be too engrossed in adoring the softness of the saree, the colours which make me feel as if I had draped myself in a piece of sky or am in Eden with flowers blooming shyly all over me!  

And for a full one year, I have teamed-up my sarees with a pair of powder blue running shoes! Don't ask why as that was the need of the hour..err.. year. They were cute as a blue bunny but for some reasons unknown, the neighbourhood aunties at my in-law's home felt otherwise and found them to be hideous! *rolling eyes*
Obviously, I did not pay heed.
 I was and still am too busy living this one life to the fullest. 

It does not matter to me if the world knows about Tandava only, as I know the Lasya.
The extremely soft dance of Parvati, the dance of grace and beauty,  which she performs in response to Shiva's roudra Tandava - the dance of destruction. It's through Lasya that she harbours the seeds of life, protects the fauna, nourishes it with her tears of love and  caress the scorched black earth back to life. I firmly believe in that part of the balance and no one can stereotype me for it. Unless of course, I am willing to be.





* In the temple it's not the Lord, but I
The incense fragrance encircles  my idol,  
The bell of my anklet tinkles in the worship of I


The Post is written as my views on Being Woman for my dear friend  and fellow blogger Dr. Kiran Acharya.  To read her wonderful post talking about gender stereotyping vist HERE. 

Her post is studded with nuggets of  wisdom from some of us women bloggers, which we have experienced, gathered or wilfully lost !. 

I am indebted to Kiran for this beautiful initiative :)


Image Courtesy: Here  

37 comments:

  1. So true Kokila. Either she is worshiped as a Goddess or ostracized as a witch instead of human, which is the only thing she is. But, it's we who allow us to be stereotyped.
    Thanks for the answer, and for letting me use it. :)

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    1. Thank Heavens Kiran, it resoanted well with you! And dear, all thanks goes to you, as you are the one to make me write it :)

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  2. Yes either on a pedestal or in the pit. Kokila you have aptly pointed out that femininity is about nurturing, compassion and empathy. Sadly it is often confused only with style just as modernity is confused with western dressing or with speaking in English.

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    1. You have put it better than me Somali :) what I struggled to express with such verbose aplomb, you described in a nutshell :) Thank you for the read and the insightful comment :)

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  3. A full on powerful package. Nari shakti ka bilkul sahi pradarshan - na jyade na kam. Tumne koi bhi pehlu nahi chhoda hai. Kya bolen......Main natmastak hun. :)

    शिव bhi bina Shakti ke शव hin hain.

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    1. Coming from you it's humbling Ravish!
      I felt this piece to be too simple but then went on to post it as I have written it, just the way it came, in one go. Hence,your comment means a lot :) Thanks for the read and the humbling words :)

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  4. A fitting tribute to the power of women and their 'never say die' spirit!

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    1. Thank YOU! I agree with the 'never say die' spirit part.. I wonder, if we are Eternal optimistic or simply have more capacity to bear the pain ?

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  5. Hi! A good thought provoking write up.

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  6. Thoughtful and a Happy Women's Day Kokila :)

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    1. Hey SIMS , thank you and same to you and I am NOT late as today is just another Women's Day :)

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  7. Wow! What a power packed and a fabulous post.
    I totally agree with you. If a woman puts her own needs in front of others and takes care of herself, she is labelled as selfish and witch.
    I have seen working mothers being called such horrible things by the neighbors just because they are not able to stay with their kids 24 7.
    Beautifully written dear. A perfect post on Women's Day :)

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    1. Thank you SO MUCH Purba! One way or other, it's labeling and stereotyping... Better to do what we 'feel' like doing without being judgemental, even to those who are being to us.
      Believe me, Its TIRING and simply saps the life out of life!
      Thank you girl, again n again for the read :)

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    2. Thank you SO MUCH Purba! One way or other, it's labeling and stereotyping... Better to do what we 'feel' like doing without being judgemental, even to those who are being to us.
      Believe me, Its TIRING and simply saps the life out of life!
      Thank you girl, again n again for the read :)

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  8. A great tribute to the strength of women, we all have a collective responsibility to help them grow within us.

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    1. Right Alok. By saying so, you have said it all :) Thanks for the read :)

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  9. We need to be ourselves. I'm proud to be a woman and I always prefer to follow my heart. I'm so happy to know that you have always preferred to drape a saree...Loved the description of the pair of shoes... :-D A powerful post, soul-sis...
    Hail to womanhood...have a happy today, tomorrow, and every day... :-)

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    1. Well soul-sis you are one woman even I am proud of :D :P
      What more to say Mani, Thanks a TON,love you a lot and yes keep spreading the cheer and creativity :) :)

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  10. Kokila....What do I say? I read it, then re-read it and want to read it again. It is intense and sincere, in a blunt manner put. Lasya - the dance of nurturing - I did not have a clue about that....Worshiping the essence of the feminine is way above the destructive tendencies in each one of us. Being true to one's own self is another necessity to steer clear from superficial expectations, from trapping constructs. This post is brilliant.

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    1. Thank You So much Sunaina..Its heart warming to know that it resonated well with you. I wish we all can have that inner woman live and bloom inside us...everyday :)

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  11. This is so so wonderfully written Kokila. I'm simply swayed away by your thoughts. Feminine energy soothes and softens masculine arrogance and leads it towards perfection. And that's the concept of 'Ardhnarishwar'-- The Ultimate Power.
    Talking spirituality and teaming-up your saree with sneakers is a skill, only a genius can possess. Hats off, Kudos.
    More and more power to us, the women. Happy Women's day. :) <3

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    1. Thank-you so much Sangeeta ji as It's one humbling comment!You mentioning the Ardhnarishwar is wonderfully apt as it encapsulates everything which I tried to convey :) Kudos to you to grasp the 'saartatv' so well. Thank-you :)

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  12. Aah,the folly of dwindling in extremes is one that has always plagued humanity! If only we could master the middle path everything would be all good :) Loved the post :)

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    1. Thanks a lot and welcome to the blog Richa! Glad you liked it dear. To conquer the dilemma is the toughest and you have rightly piinted it out as after following the middle path Siddhartha became Buddha! Thanks again for stopping by :)

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  13. I liked your fluent style laced with humour..i could also discern a distinct streak of hyperbole employed by you.
    In actual life there is no such dichotomy of nature between good and bad.Majority of women like men fall in between with a mix of virtues and imperfections.It must however be accepted that except for a small section of urban,literate and employed women,most of others especially in the rural sections suffer from discrimination,overtly or covertly.Unless there is empowerment of women politically,educationally,economically and socially,their lot despite they being half the population would continue to remain miserable.
    Here again women at all levels should unite and work to break the shackles that hinder their growth. It remains a distant dream.

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    1. I am in full agreement with you regarding the small section of the society enjoying the 'benefits' of womanhood! But, that small section, I hardly find fit to be discussed upon though that section do discuss almost all -isms and represent the modern educated woman. My muse here is that woman who is comfortable in her fragile skin knowing well her limitations, duties and desires.And, all this, not as a woman alone but as a person. She won't compete with man or for any other woman for that matter! She is content in her individuality, growing, not threatening or dominating or being dominated by any one.She revels in her femininity, consider it as her individuality and takes life's challenges with it. It's neither a hindrance nor an asset for her. It's just IS.
      On practical level the rural and the small town woman needs so much work not in monetary sense or ramming technical and academic knowledge but in making them realize their worth as a human first. Then a person ..much later a woman! Being from a small town, I know how they fulfill every womanly duty without respecting or even realizing their womanhood ever!
      And, I have found Nature to present the apparently conflicting aspects as complementary!
      Thank you for the insightful comment which on a lighter note,we can say that it took me 7 months to reply!😊😊 once again, thank you!

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  14. Lot of points to ponder over in this remarkable post of yours and gender stereotyping does happen and women are either dainty darlings or jagged or choppy characters. Having said that there is dichotomy of views in that the frenzied chase by women to attain equality in all spheres is not a seal of approval of the reason why God created men and women differently - biologically, psychologically and attitudinal...

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    1. So in agreement with you Sunita!yes, don't understand why we can't accept ourselves as we are! See, if the dangal girls can beat male wrestlers, doesn't mean they are fit for the husband's role in a marriage! Respecting nature is the most natural and peaceful way..unless you do feel a stirring for something different, be it rocket science, truck driving, wrestling or dancing. Then one must go for that inner calling unabashedly with a high head. Personally, I'd prefer wrestling than cooking! Any day.😁😁
      Thank you for the lovely comment. It's always a pleasure to have a thought provoking comment dear! Seems like it took me months to arrange my thoughts!😋😋

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  15. Super and strong.
    Even now(in The age of women empowerment) we need such thoughts to create awareness and consciousness...for some people.

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    1. Right! Those some are the ones capable to raise a whole generation of wrongs! Am glad the post resonated well with you Jyotirmay!

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  16. I loved this post, Kokila. Such strength! And I can see why you love wearing saris. You also look so good in them. Keep rocking in and doing what you enjoy. Who cares about the idiots?

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    1. He he ..Thankyou for the compliment girl!
      I too never care about idiots and morons! :D

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  17. Read it earlier and again as I read it just now, I found the words ever more powerful... :-) <3

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    1. Coming from a strong woman, the words are something... Amid all the 'full of longing couplets' I am creating these days,I would like to see more of this side of myself hence, have pinned it for some time. :)

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    1. Hi there! Thank-you for stopping by! 🙋:)

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