Divine representations of the cosmos, Indian Goddesses, complete the divinity of the universe. With each Goddess symbolising a different element of a human's nature, it becomes easier for devotees to worship their philosophy and in their way identify or relate to the traits that differentiate one Goddess from the other.
Speaking of the 21st century, women in general have come a long way from times when society compartmentalised them into good and bad based on highly absurd notions. From referring to some women as the ‘Ghar ki Lakshmi’ or ‘Annapurna’ to completely disregarding the very existence of some by labeling them as a witch or someone who is born to destroy a household, the journey for every woman has had its own set of highs and lows.
On a lighter note, lets take a look at which Goddess can the modern day women identify with it:
1) Kali- The Pure Unmanifested Energy
For a non-devotee who has never come across an image or effigy or deity of the Goddess, her appearance can be quite appalling. Putting to rest the conventional 'picture' of an Indian Goddess, Kali flaunts a skirt made of decapitated hands and an unsettling garland of human heads that have been severed from their respective bodies.
Although identified best with her fear-instilling avatar, this Goddess is considered kind, loving and a nurturer, protecting the Universe.
Her most common four-armed form shows that she holds a sword and a severed head in two hands, whereas, in the other two hands she holds mudras. The sword signifies knowledge, while the human head symbolises ego. The mudras symbolise how she will stand up for every person who worships her truly, from their hearts.
Why this Goddess in most of her images stands with one foot on Lord Shiva's chest is indeed an intriguing fact. This is because Kali is the extreme anger of Maa Parvati. Beliefs say that when Lord Shiva saw Kali in anger he laid down at her feet, and as soon as she realised that her foot had touched her husband, her tongue came out and her anger subsided instantly.
If we were to analyse who the embodiment of this goddess would be in the present age, most of her personality traits would point to someone who fights for her rights, has confidence in herself, doesn't shy away from being angry and dreadful and at the same time is considered as a strong maternal figure and a source of motherly love and affection.
2) Goddess Lakshmi- The Bestower of Wealth
Bedecked with dazzling gold ornaments from head to toe, seated on a large lotus, with pots of money in her hands, the Goddess is usually seen wearing a red saree in her images, is a household favourite. Her images or miniature-sized idols are often tucked away in bank lockers, in the wardrobe drawers that keep money and are a predominant part of most household temple setups.
The giver of fortune, wealth, beauty and auspiciousness, this Goddess has her hands always raised to grant humans what they strongly desire.
Not many are aware that this Goddess took the form of Sita and during her journey as Lord Ram's wife, she left an array of meaningful lessons for every woman to learn from.
A 21st century Lakshmi is someone who is majorly independent and likes to take matters in her hands and make her own life choices. She is no whiner and believes in working hard for everything she wants. People tend to associate Lakhsmi with only granting wealth, but in reality, she grants abundance- which includes good health, prosperity, success, and wisdom, apart from wealth.
3) Goddess Saraswati- The boundless source of wisdom
Saraswati, Lord Brahmas's wife, was created by Lord Brahma as the incarnation of knowledge. Brahma created matter, but, it was Saraswati who helped him finalise his creations in the Universe and add form to them.
A beautiful feminine Goddess with four arms, she is seen in images donning a white saree, seated on a lotus, exuding a serene and tranquil vibe.
She is best known for being the center or source of knowledge, music, arts, and science.
In the modern age, a woman who is intelligent, enlightened and has a high taste in culture can relate to this Goddess. Her four arms stand for the four Hindu Vedas, the primary books of the Hindus. Her vehicle is a peacock, symbolising pride not only in external appearance but also in the inner knowledge and truth.
4) Durga- The symbol of feminine power
The most well-known manifestations of Shakti (Energy), Durga is a famous Hindu Goddess.
She is associated with power and strength. With many personas, this multi-dimensional Goddess is known for slaying the demon, Mahisasura, and establishing the power of good over evil and for being righteous and maintaining morals.
Sans any male assistance, she is best known for her battles with male demons.
Interestingly, one can also think of the possible professions that these Goddesses could be in if they existed as humans during the 21st century. Although highly subjective, Goddess Kali would prove to be great if given a chance to serve in the Army and protect her nation, while Goddess Lakshmi would be apt as an investment banker, surrounded by numbers and money. Goddess Saraswati would best be a professor, artist or musician, while Goddess Durga could be great in matters that required leadership and courage- for instance, heading a firm or being an activist for a cause.
This Women's Day, as a fun exercise, take some time to ponder about if you can actually relate to any Indian Goddess.