Durga Resides In The Land Of The (Im)Pure

She has been roaming around since morning and her appearance has been working as an Identity Card for her. Hence, nobody paid heed to her. After all, it is a ‘Pujo Pandal’, everyone is supposed to be busy. This ‘She’ is Durga, she is six years old and she lives in a brothel with her mother. She is not here for the ceremonial worship. She is not here to enjoy the festivities too, or can she? No need to lend a second thought to it. She is focused on her business, She is here to meet MAA DURGA on her brief sojourn to her natal home. She wanted to do it first, hence, she is here well before time.

Well, it might all feel ambiguous or a very stupid beginning. But, if one wants to reveal the darkest realms of Indian Society, such approaches shouldn’t be ignored.

This girl Durga wasn’t quite aware of the Goddess Durga until a priest came to her doorstep asking for the mud.

And, like him came many.

One man begged for it.

This scene felt so unusual to her. All the women in her place were insulted, bogged down at but never been revered like this before. She did not know the reason, even her mother did not. In such cases, it is always good to refer the eldest, so she approached the old lady – Amma and whatever she told her was beyond her comprehension. It might be new for many of us, but it is all part of the tradition.

To build the idol of the goddess Durga four things are of utmost importance, though in many parts of the country some practices are abandoned, but according to the Hindu rituals, Mud from the Banks of Holy River Ganga, Cow Urine, Cow Dung and ‘Punya Mati’ (Soil from a prostitute’s land – Nishiddho Pallis in easy words forbidden land) are used.

But, why the mud from this so called forbidden land? Because they say it is full of Virtue and Purity. When a man visits a prostitute, he leaves all his purity at her doorstep. And as mythology goes, Durga’s idol is incomplete without it.

The Irony is, our society thinks exactly opposite on the non-puja days. Sex work has been a part of the Homosapien community since time immemorial. The derogatory term ‘Prostitute’ has been a constituent of our society since ancient times. Call them Devdasis, Vaishyas, Tavaifs or whatever you like, but they have never been accepted in our ‘culture’.

The priest who begs for the mud would never hold a glass of water from a prostitute’s house, and this where our bubble of hypocrisy burst. There is not a single act in our constitution, which criminalizes prostitution directly.

The Prevention of Immoral trafficking in women and girls Act- 1956 and The Prevention of immoral traffic Act-1956, which punishes the third party promoting prostitution and not the prostitutes themselves. Unfortunately,  our society follows its own law book.

Goddess Durga is known for her own valor and power. They say she resides in every woman, but certainly not in a prostitute. Where women sensitization is all over Vogue, why not to talk about it too? Their life is that of dismay, we call her acts sinful.

The point here to make is that whether a woman chooses to sell their body or not, it’s  her decision at the end, and her decision doesn’t make her less of a human being.

One does not get ‘impure’ by entering the house of a sex worker. Questioning the chastity of a woman, again and again, makes our country anything but progressive. The purity of a woman doesn’t reside in her vagina.

And not to forget our little Durga, she wanted to invite Maa Durga personally, by whispering her address into her ear.

There are three million sex workers in India and every year thousands of Durga’s idols are built. For a change, can we empathize even with one?

By : Anum Khan


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