Happy Durga Puja to all!
Here, I share my stories and artwork on how I understand the Durga Puja Festival’s meanings from and within my family. As a second-generation immigrant in Canada, we need to know who we are in this Indigenous land, where we are coming from, and how we can build a bridge between Indigenous in Canada and our ancestors’ culture to create our belongingness.
I learned about the Hindu mythological meanings of Maa (Mother) Durga from my Mom that Durga is a representation of women’s strength over evil spirits. Maa Durga is a bold and independent woman, meaning she can make sure there are no injustices in this world. From our family’s everyday practice, I learned that the meaning of Durga puja is a celebration for everyone and everything surrounding us, including human and non-human (i.e., people, culture, land, water, plants, foods, etc.). It is also a celebration of culture, dance, and music. It is an opportunity to know our cultural roots, and how to live in harmony. Maa Durga is also known for inner strength, justice, and love for everyone, particularly women.
For me, every woman is a Maa Durga; I know this because I have seen from my Mom that she does many important works for our families and communities. She has always helped us with everything we do for our learning growth. She also helps to raise awareness against many social injustices in our communities. My Mom does all sorts of care-giving for our family, including cooking, cleaning, teaching, earning, and caring for children and elders. At the same time, she does lots of community building work, including teaching music, hosting in community radios, and social justice activities. She plays a role as a nurturer and carrier of culture, ancestors’ stories and heritage.
My Mom said Maa Durga is alive within us; every woman is a Durga. As a Durga in our family and community, we need to fight against racism, classism, sexism, patriarchy, homophobia, gender discrimination, religious dogma from our everyday lives. Through various social justice movements within family and community, we need to be a part of ongoing social justice movements, including climate justice, gender justice (violence against women/ children/ LGBTQ2+), missing and murdered Indigenous women justice, Indigenous land and water rights, and anti-racism. Therefore, I think the Durga Puja has many meanings and implications in our current time. Maa Durga’s story is empowering for all of us, regardless of class, race, religion, gender, and sexualities. Let’s create and become Maa Durga in every family.