Supreeta Singh

Her name invokes invincibility even more than the power she embodies. She is the fearless yet benevolent mother, daughter and wife par excellence. Ma Durga — destroyer of evil and preserver of moral order — is one of the most widely worshipped goddesses in the Hindu pantheon. Come October and the long-awaited festival of Durga Puja will yet again celebrate the triumph of her feminine energy over multiple enemies.
Significantly, Durga inspires contemporary women to fight their own battles bravely. The goddess arouses living women to take on their demons and slay them. She also  enthuses working women to excel in their professional pursuits. Particularly for women battling discrimination and oppression in male-dominated society, the goddess is a great source of strength.
Painter Smeetha Bhoumik says what she admires most about Durga is her phenomenal courage; her knack for annihilating opponents with a sharp sword. “She has taught me how to deal with crises. She takes on evil head-long. Stories about Durga fire my imagination. They help me live on my own terms.”
In the scriptures, Durga is depicted carrying weapons like thunderbolt, bow and arrows, trident, Sudarshan Chakra, mace, spear, scimitar, snake, lotus, and sword. “The invisible components of Durga’s arsenal are will-power and mental strength. That’s why she won against all odds. The lessons I have learnt from Durga is to be focussed, disciplined and unwaveringly dedicated to my goals,” says fashion designer Agnimitra Paul.
“Durga’s determination stands out. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the most alluring dimension of her multi-faceted personality.”
“But we, of course, are mere mortals however much we try to emulate Mother. Recently I had to cancel a television appearance because my son Vignesh suddenly fell ill while my husband was abroad. A lot of people were in a soup because of me. It was a Catch-22 situation. I was very embarrassed and felt guilty at the same time. As a woman I’m expected to fulfill my roles as a professional and a mother but my husband is not expected to stay at home and tend to an ailing son. He is not as answerable as I am”, rues Agnimitra.
Homemaker Shimul Sengupta, who has two children, says that if she somehow acquired Durga’s powers she would eradicate the evils of female feticide and wife-beating not only from India but the whole wide world.
“Strangely even those who worship Durga — the ultimate feminine force or superwoman if you like — neglect or suppress women around them. This is a terrible contradiction. And I’m sure Ma is mighty displeased with it.”
Taking a leaf out of Durga’s book, senior banker Arundhati Ghosh has perfected her five senses to meet professional challenges like leading a team and achieving targets.
“I clearly see the goal my team and I have to achieve. I sniff out problems and try to nip them in the bud. I hear all sides of a story so that my decision is a balanced one. I have also developed a taste for words to inspire my team. And I impart a woman’s touch to keep spirits soaring.”
Chef and entrepreneur Rakhi Purnima Dasgupta says that Durga epitomises moral integrity and womanly virtues.
“Her followers like me do not stray from the straight and narrow. A woman’s life should be an open book. She should never compromise. I have always drawn a line — that’s how I survived honourably in the world of advertising. It also helps if you don’t take yourself too seriously. Have faith in your own capabilities.”