Celebrating Shakti: The Living Goddess This Navratri!

It’s that time of the year again. Navratri, the annual festival celebrating the nine avatars of the Goddess Shakti, is upon us. The deities of Ma Durga are out of the temple altars to be seated in the forefront, decorated with red flowers and colourful chunris and offered daily prayers in the morning and evening. People are fasting for the nine days to appease the Goddess and seek her favorable blessings for the happiness and prosperity of their near and dear ones.

While a lot is being done and seen for the Goddess residing in Devi Mata Temples all around the country, I decided of taking this opportunity to celebrate Shakti in the living Goddesses this year! 

She is a woman Navratri India
She is a woman.
(Picture courtesy: Pixabay)

Living Goddess... She, who is everywhere, alive and breathing, adorned in various forms and known by various names, with a thousand stories to share; and though her world may keep changing, she remains the same... dancing graciously in this constantly changing ocean of samsara with the same innate power, the same core inner strength, protecting, guiding, inspiring everyone she comes in contact with, distinguishing her self as an actual manifestation of The Divine Goddess herself.

This post, along with my fellow blogger friends, is my humble attempt to celebrate all those woman who, just by being, just by being who they are, are a Devi in their own right. Read on! 


savitri garjaula Navratri Living Goddess
Savitri Garjaula (Photo Credit: Shoma Abhyankar.)

I met Savitri on my trip to Corbett, Uttarakhand. The gutsy woman in the village of Mankanthpur, Ramnagar, who is just about high school pass and spent her younger years tending to home and family like most village women. Not adept at farming, she overcame her inhibitions and went on determined to learn about organic farming. Gradually she involved other women of her village in self sustaining practices. The women under her guidance began bottling pickles and jams and selling to buyers outside the village.

Savitri’s grit and zest, has made her presence felt in far reaches of Switzerland besides multiple awards in India. She exports rice and puts up exhibitions of farm produce. She has taken seven villages under her wing and aims to include more people and train them in organic farming practices. Even though she is lesser educated but feels strongly about women empowerment.

Women like her are inspiring.


poonam in her flower farm Navratri Living Goddess
Poonam (Photo Credit: Divyakshi Gupta).

I was at Goverdhan, a small village in Uttar Pradesh. As we drove past the village, I saw a lush field with dancing marigolds. I immediately took out my camera and starting clicking, unaware of someone watching me.  I look back and see her smiling.

That is how I met Poonam, the girl with a gorgeous smile, immense charm, and exuberant confidence.

She then took me on a tour around the village farm, with freshly grown fruits and vegetables. As I conversed with Poonam, I was amazed at her knowledge. While I referred to vegetables in Hindi as "Lauki", "Tori" she replied in impeccable English " Yes that's Bottle gourd and that is Ridge gourd."

I was surprised. She belonged to a village where women were always under the ghoonghat, but Poonam decided to break social barriers and went to school, completed her education, and now, took care of her farm, marketed her farm produce, ran a flower decoration business, and managed her household chores as well.

She was the "son" of the house, a confident, charming businesswoman and at the same time, an efficient, responsible homemaker and an expert farmer. A Devi in her own way.


Jog Falls Karnataka Amma Navratri Living Goddess
Amma (Photo Credit: Pooja Shah)

If you have visited the Jog Falls in Karnataka – India, you must know that there aren’t many restaurants/ eating joints near the waterfall. With hunger pangs hurting our stomach and the cold misty fog giving us chills, we reached a small complex near Jog Falls that had few shops. Luckily for us one of them served basic cooked food items such as Maggi and Dosa.

Referred to as Amma, she was an aged-lady, somewhere in her late fifties, working tirelessly to cook food for her customers and washing dishes. She was delighted when she saw us approaching. She welcomed us inside, laid down chairs around a table, and knowing our state, immediately poured us hot tea. Intrigued by why she was working at this age, we chatted up with her.

She was born in a poor family where her parents had no money for educating her and two younger sisters. So, she started working odd jobs from a young age to earn money and ensured her sisters go to school. She never got married but saved enough to get her younger sisters married. Today, her parents are no more and she stays next to one of her sister’s home. After her sisters settling down, she opened up this particular food-joint near Jog Falls and works there while taking care of her sister’s children, who she considers as her own.

These interesting aspects of her life and the way she learnt to overcome her struggles since a young age inspired us immensely. We feel disheartened with our small, petty struggles and this woman, after having been through so much, was happy. While most of us are self-centred and even self-obsessed, her selflessness spoke volumes about her character. Lessons learnt, we went to her small eating joint both the days we were there and ended up clicking several pictures with her.


Thai woman BenjaKalyani Navratri Living Goddess
Benjakalyani (Photo Credit: Kaila Yu)

I met this super glamorous Thai woman, named Benjakalyani, unexpectedly when visiting the remote village Baan Rai Kong Khing. She couldn't speak much English but she did my makeup for me and also taught us to do a simplified version of the traditional dance of the village. She inspired me with her confidence and bravado, all the other women of the village were shy around us Americans but she was bold and confident. We called her Miss Chanel since she was so glamorous!

She had grown up in this small village but went away to Bangkok for her school studies. Her mom had gotten sick so she had to return to the countryside instead of fulfilling the dreams of her big city life. At first, she was frustrated and disappointed, but being away from the village made her actually appreciate the beautiful things that her village that wasn't available to city dwellers. This included traditional home-cooked meals that took hours to make and flowers that would only grow by the countryside.

She still kept her fashion sense and her red lipstick, but she's glad that she came back home.


Asha Patankar Navratri Living Goddess
Asha Patnakar (Photo credit: Shoma Abhyankar)

Most times women lose all vigour and enthusiasm for life as they age. They give up on keeping active and alive for their own sake. But not this 73 old grandmother, Asha Pataknar from Pune. I met her while participating in an all women biking rally in Pune three years ago.

Unlike most mothers-in-law, Asha Patankar is a great friend of her daughter in law. She accompanied her daughter in the rally but not as a pillion rider. The mother-in-law daughter-in-law duo was riding their individual scooters. Having worked all her life, the enthusiastic lady did not sit at home complaining about her tiredness and old age. Instead after retirement she kept herself occupied by meeting friends, doing the household shopping and generally being happy and satisfied with her grandchildren. She was in favour of women empowerment and inspires and motivates her daughter-in-law to continue her job and never let go of her dreams.

She is indeed the best mother-in-law one could hope to have.


I met Dadi during my yatra to the Ardh Kumbh Magh Mela in Allahabad around 2 years back. A fragile little woman, she ran a shop for the many pilgrims like me, who frequented her tiny hole in the wall shop early in the morning on our way back from the Sangam dip for a cup of garma garam chai.

I loved her chai; she kept it on the sweeter side with an added pinch of sugar. It tasted nectar in those wintry mornings. But what I found sweeter and loved even more was her zest for life.

Dadi Allahabad Navratri Women
Dadi ki Meethi Muskaan, Allahabad.

When I asked her, what was her routine like, she replied warmly, subah chaar baje Ganga main dupki lagate hain aur phir yahan baith jaate hain aap sabse milne, aur kya (I take a dip at four in the River Ganga everyday and then open my shop to serve you all.). For a few moments, I could see only the hard wrinkles engraved throughout her face and thought of all the struggles she had faced.

But then, something very bright caught my wandering eye. She had flashed her sweet smile deepening her wrinkle lines even more. Once locked, it was hard to take my eyes off that dazzling beam of sunshine and I sensed a very strong woman behind it:

Dadi ki chai Allahabad Navratri Women
Dadi Ki Chai

Here was a woman who was happy. While I had travelled thousand miles in search for happiness and nirvana, here was a woman who had perhaps never ventured out of her neighborhood for most of her life and yet found it all, right here, while sitting in her humble tea shop, while serving her hand made refreshing tea to weary pilgrims like me. I can never forget Dadi. Her humility and serene disposition is something that I try to imbibe in my daily module of life.

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Have you met a woman in your travels who inspired you or moved you in some way?
What quality about her makes you think of her often?
Do share in the comments section!

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Celebrating the living goddess in a woman this Navratri festival

(Pin Image courtesy: Pixabay)

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  1. Great compilation. Thanks for including my write up

  2. This is such a powerful, inspiring and meaningful post. There is a Devi right amidst us, she can be in any form but she's charismatic, powerful, wise, strong and capable of doing anything! These stories have brightened my day. Happy Navratri and I hope people continue celebrating women on all days not just these 9 days:)

  3. Great article, and I love when women complements and inspires other women. These inspiring stories really motivated me. Thanks for this amazing post.

  4. This is so beautiful. Women bringing each other up is so important. Thank you for sharing this story.

  5. These women are so inspiring Arti!! And I am so glad you decided to share their stories for Navratri. There couldn't have been a better way to celebrate Shakti. Each and every one of these women have a zest for life that is so genuine and a zeal to adapt and grow. Absolutely loved the article!! :D

  6. This is such a great idea! I absolutely love this post! Such inspiring women and I'm so happy you are sharing their stories for Navratri!


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