The President, Shri Ram Nath Kovind presenting the Padma Shri Award to Smt. Subasini Mistry, at the Civil Investiture Ceremony, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi (2018).

The Durgas Around Us: The Live Durgas

The “Live” Durgas

Durgas are everywhere. She stands for power and resilience. It is again her who also stands for breaking the glass ceiling. As we are busy worshipping the clay idol of Goddess Durga, let us not forget about the Durgas who are around us. This Durga Puja let us take some time to know about the women who are actually taking challenges and defeating numerous demons on the way.

The woman who cooks can also drive an eight-wheeler

Pratima Poddar, 42, drives a minibus on the Nimta-Howrah route for the last six years. And mark it; she has not gotten into one single accident. Yes. You heard it right. Women can drive and drive quite well also. After the accident of her husband, this Durga came out of Pratima (interestingly pratima means idol) and decided that she would hold the steering of the family and the bus.  Moreover, she proudly says that her husband Shibeshwar (a common synonym for Lord Shiva, who is Goddess Durgas’ better half) has supported her from day one. He is also the conductor of the bus.

So, the perfect poetic justice happens on the Earth where this Pratima and Shibeshwar ride their way into breaking the walls made by the society. As a result, they are giving a tough competition to Goddess Durga and Lord Shiva! Anyone who lives in or has visited Kolkata knows the challenging traffic conditions here and Pratima surely has taken the challenge head on!

Woman of Steel- No should die because they are poor

When her husband died of abject poverty, 23-year-old Subhashini Mistry made a promise to herself. She also sure the promise comes true. Consequently, for the next many years she worked day in and day out as a housemaid, manual labourer, and vegetable seller. This way she saved every penny to fulfill her dream of building a hospital because, according to her, “No one should die because they are poor”. Likewise, the hospital is named “Humanity Hospital” and serves people who cannot afford medical care. This woman with nerves of steel certainly reflects the fierceness of Goddess Durga. Just as Durga killed Mahisasura after multiple attempts, Subhashini toiled hard for five decades, taking up multiple job roles, to make her dream come true. She could have given up any moment but she did not; just like Maa Durga. Subhashini is now the Maa so many people who come to her hospital for treatment. Just as Ganesha is the dear son of Maa Durga; Dr. Ajoy Mistry, Subhashini’s youngest son has helped his mother unconditionally in making the dream come true. Goddess Durga takes care of her children and comes down to Earth every year. This Durga named Subhashini takes care of many people in her Humanity Hospital located in Joka, Kolkata. Most Noteworthy, in the year 2018, she received the Padma Shri award for her contribution in the field of social work. But her real award is when she gets to see reassured faces of the cured patients happily going back home showering her with smiles.

Swim against the tide- For the sake of teaching

Finally, this story comes from our neighbouring state Odisha. Binodini Samal, teacher of a primary school, aged 50, literally swims to her workplace. She is doing this for the last ten years. For her, the children waiting to attend her classes are the first priority. Goddess Durga taught us to overcome every obstacle in life in the fight of good vs evil. Binodini is the living example of where there is a will there is a way. The idea "great teacher is an inspiration" is, in fact, right.

Recognize the Durgas

Numerous Durgas are there around us, but we only know about a few. Only worshipping the clay idol is not enough. All must recognize the need to follow what Durga truly represents. Moreover, these are the women who are the living embodiment of courage, strength, and patience. In modern times the “asuras”, are the numerous prejudices and discrimination which women face day in and day out. These women are giving a hard fight, swimming against the tide and inspiring millions other in their own way. Above all, these women are the real Durgas.

Author: Chaitali Chowdhury