Yes. Goddesses are real. They do not exist in a frame or a mud sculpture to be worshipped for nine days and then immersed and done away with for another year. Goddesses are real. They are in you, and in me. And in every woman that you see. This is a note for the women, and especially the men in our lives.

As a culture, we are conditioned to worship gods and goddesses. We have gods and goddesses for every virtue, activity, field, emotion and such. Goddesses are showered with much love, respect, and devotion during festivals; ideally, this should have translated into our behavior towards the female gender. Unfortunately, it has not. Women and girls are still subjected to inequality, judgment, and the burden undue expectations.

Goddesses are real. They are in you, and in me. And in every woman that you see. This is a note for the women, and especially the men in our lives.

Today women work shoulder to shoulder with men, working in not just the corporate sector but also, flying planes, driving autos and taxis, winning gold medals, flying interstellar satellites, the works. I have been fortunate enough to be born in a family that did not pull me down because I am a girl, they encouraged me as much as they encouraged my brother. They taught me to be independent, to have opinions, to be self-sufficient. However, I must say there was still inequality while growing up. My dad taught me everything that he taught my older brother, but my brother was not taught everything that I was. I was taught how to fix a car and to lay the table. I was taught how to fix a fuse and to cook elaborate meals. I was taught how to check the plumbing, and how to sew clothes. I did the housework and the outside work. My brother was relegated to outside work only. So, therein lies the inequality, I have grown up with it. We are so conditioned to this way of living that my mother did not see through it until I grew up and explained the injustice. Why was I taught to do both – housework and outside work, whilst the brother was taught only to do the ‘masculine’ jobs?

Girl and the goddess

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I have a life partner who does not shy away from helping with household chores; we work at the house together. That is how we manage the household, and a child, along with demanding careers. Sadly, this is not a very prevalent practice. Many of my friends who are educated and working at senior positions still have to manage their households, and the majority of parenting errands – singlehandedly. Managing the household needs to be a joint effort, if the woman has a career. I see women who are tired, exhausted and aged before time. Who do not get the support they seek.

The next time you fold your hands to the idol of the Goddess and offer her flowers and sweets, look beside you and extend your hand and offer help to the Goddess that resides in your homes.

The contemporary India is in a limbo, the traditional joint family system worked beautifully in raising bountiful of kids in the huge Indian family, with women, and elders dividing tasks and working the household. Now that women are stepping out and opting for nuclear families (since orthodox families do not encourage careers), that household support is declining. It is now that the men need to step up and support their wives/girlfriends and partake in running the household. It is now that women as mothers need to raise men who can sustain themselves, who would stand shoulder to shoulder with the women in the future. The change must begin now; we are a few decades too late already.

Women are doing a truckload of the work today, in the house and outside. Therefore, the next time you fold your hands to the idol of the Goddess and offer her flowers and sweets, look beside you and extend your hand and offer help to the Goddess that resides in your homes. The one who is alive and breathes who is flesh and bones. The one whom you call –mother, sister, girlfriend, partner, wife.

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Srushti Rao is a Senior Communication Professional , a contemporary artist, and an author. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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