Goddesses and Ordinary Women

Poster Women

The Zubaan Books Poster Women project depicts ordinary women involved in the struggles of day to day life in the iconography of the goddess. The poster above reads:

No ten armed female Goddess ever toiled as I do for free
Yet insults, biting sarcasm and the stick, seem to be my only destiny.

SACHETNA, 31, Mahanirban Rd. Kolkata-700029

I believe this project is important because it strives to generate indigenous feminist narratives. Or more specifically, it generates narratives about feminism that are not informed purely by white feminist ideologies. It frames the struggles of Indian village women in iconographies that are familiar to India. Take the image below for example,

Poster Women

“How many hands will I have!
How much work will I do!”
Women should have equal rights in each sector

(South Orissa Voluntary Action) SOVA

Kimberlé Crenshaw’s concept of intersectionality forces us to look at the intersections of race, class, gender, and ability; and how those summate into various legal or structural ramifications that are more severe when grouped together. For example, the structural issues faced by a Black transgender man differ from the structural issues faced by a white female feminist.

This allows us to move away from the trite cultural appropriation of Kālī as “a badass goddess,” to the a culturally sensitive and indigenous feminism that interprets Kālī as Divine Mother who not only governs the universe but actually is the universe itself, The Creatrix. Seeing the sex worker Ramani, Ramakrishna declared “Mother, I see that you are in that form too.” Therefore, it’s not that Kālī is just some external source of power to be identified as “badass,” but Kālī is an internal power, the Goddess is the ordinary woman.

In my master’s thesis work, I theorized that a novel feminist theory could be derived simply from Kālī-bhakti, based on Vrinda Dalmiya’s work with Ramprasad Sen:

Consequently, through Kali-bhakti, the devotee–anyone who chooses to be a devotee–can access philosophical truth through a lived relationship. Kali-worship can thus bring together the metaphysical, the epistemological, and, as I shall argue (in the last two sections), an ethico-political vision


I recently submitted my master’s thesis for publication. So hopefully there is more of this to come!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: