The auspicious festival of Navratri!
Navratri, meaning nine nights, is a Hindu festival celebrated in Autumn in India. Celebrated with amazing festive spirits, these 9 days are dedicated mainly to “Maa” (Mother/Goddess), be it Maa Durga, Maa Kali or any other form. The story associated with Navratri is a battle which took between goddess Durga and the demon Mahishasura. The Demon here represents Selfishness, Narcissism, Egoism, falseness which was killed by the Goddess, a Women, a Maa representing the power of a woman, victory of truth, sacrifice and love that a Maa’s heart has!
Why I associate Navratri to Womanhood?
These 9 spiritual days are full of colours and various festivities and I personally love celebrating this as a festival of women. A festival wherein I see a woman as a strong person who has sacrificed her life for her relations and love. One who has struggled her life to spread love, joy, care for the world. It empowers me more as a woman and signifies a life full of dignity.
So while this festival is going on, why not let me celebrate the essence of inspiration, with some really, not-so-popular but highly inspiring stories. Some stories, which may trigger goosebumps and even tears, but they trigger a sense of achievement. They rise pride in me being a woman, and creates a sense of belonging for the “Women community” all around the world.
Salute to all the beautiful ladies and mothers out there! Wishing all a beautiful Navratri.
So here goes 9 ladies who are strong as rock and whom I personally adore for some very real reasons!
1. Sunitha Krishnan :
A real life heroine I would say! A woman whose love to give something to the society, women, challenged children, rose even before she was 8years old. She taught children in the slums and during one such literacy campaign, at 15, she herself was gang raped by eight men. Yes eight men, at the age of 15. But she says, that being raped was not what remains much in her conscious, the aftermaths, the victimisation of a victim, the isolation from the society, the feel of being cheap and ashamed was what infuriated her.
This incident gave rise to an organization “Prajwala”, which means an Eternal fire, a fire inside a woman. A fire to save commercially sexually exploited children and workers of sex slaves. She has saved more than 3200 children which were sold out in the name of adoption, organ trade for this highly traumatised skin business. Kids as small as 4-5-6years have been rescued by her and she ensures that they are well educated, loved and cared for with the dignity of being a women in her organization. She is a social activist, rehabilitating sex trafficked children. One can always find a helping hand from this strong and tender hearted woman, who despite numerous threats towards her own life, has not deterred from her cause.
Do watch her inspiring TED Talk, which got me into tears, tears of pain and agony. I salute her, bow my head for the work she is doing for this society and innocent children from being sexually exploited.
2. Arunima Sinha :
That’s a story for the brave hearts, the one who climbed Mount Everest with one leg. Yes, Arunima is world’s first Indian female amputee to climb Mount Everest. Life is full of twists and tragedies and the same confronted this National level Volleyball player. She was travelling in a train, wherein she was encountered by robbers who tried to rob her bag and a gold chain. She fought, resisted and this resulted in her being pushed out of the train on parallel tracks. Before she could react, another train already ran over her leg. With serious leg and pelvic injuries, doctors had no option but to remove her leg.
In the hospital, this brave heart girl threw a challenge to her life and soon got trained under the guidance of Bachendri Pal. She reached the summit of Mount Everest on 21 May 2013, taking close to 52 days, defying all odds. Odds of being a woman and an amputee, she took the world not to pity her but to cherish her strong mind. Apart from these, she has also climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Kosciuszko and Mt. Aconcagua.
She is dedicated for the social welfare of Physically Challenged people and has opened an academy – Pandit Chandra Shekhar Vikalang Khel Academy, supporting sports for poor and differently abled people. She wrote the book “Born again on the mountain” in 2014 and is gratified by many Awards.
Her story ignites something in me, something called passion.
3. Sindhutai Sapkal :
Rightly called “The Mother of Orphans and Abandoned Children”.
Her story reflects an incredible grit a woman can have despite suffering dejections in her life. A young girl who loved studying but her mother opposed it and she was married at a tender age of 10 to a 30year old man. Though a victim of Child marriage, she continued to fight for her exploited village women. This infuriated many and a nasty rumour of infidelity during her pregnancy made her life worse. She was beaten and ousted by her husband while in her last month and was even dejected by her mom, strange! She gave birth to her daughter in a cow shed, forget hospital or home.
But all this did not shook her, she took to singing and begging to make her and her daughters ends meet. While all this, she realized that there were so many children hungry, homeless and orphaned. She couldn’t tame her loving heart and started adopting those orphaned children. She fed them with her hands, she begged and travelled from village to cities to raise money and nurture these beautiful lives. Stats say, she had raised more than 1200 orphan children, to be boasted, many of those are lawyers and doctors and call her as “Maai”, meaning mother.
She has won close to 750 awards. Her life has been full of kindness in this harsh world. Even today, close to her 70’s, she is the same energetic Maai, nurturing many more such homeless kids in her Ashram’s, to give them a beautiful life full of dignity. Read more about her, her work and one can contribute their part towards it!
You can see her video here .
4. Kalpana Saroj :
Her story tells you of a person who ventured life from rags to riches. A Dalit, Child bride rescued from the slum goes on to be a $112million CEO. A heart breaking story but it rejuvenates faith in hard work done from the heart.
A Dalit, who saw a differential behaviour from society, teachers right when she was a little child got married at the age of 12. She was a victim of severe physical abuse by her husband and extended inlaws family who made her a “walking corpse”, as described by her father. Within 6 months of her marriage her father rescued her from those inhumane clutches but the society didn’t leave her all alone.
She got to hear lots of comments, that she was a shame, to return back and the hate towards her grew consistently. She couldn’t cope up and she drank a bottle full of poison. But destiny had something else for her. She had to live, she got a second chance to live a fearless life. She moved to Mumbai and learned tailoring full time. As fate would have it, her father lost his job and the poor family was poverty stricken. She couldn’t even save her younger sister’s life due to insufficient funds to get her treated.
This tragedy got her to hone her entrepreneurial skills to earn money at any cost. She worked hard, understood many government schemes, took loans and started off with her furniture and tailoring works. She started her own NGO and her business started to grow. But just to save the lives of 566 starving families, she took over the business of “Kamani industries”, laid off the debts and is now a chairman of that group running it successfully.
Wow, a 7th class literate, a victim of physical abuse, a survivor of suicide, from entrepreneur to chairman, this woman is a self made woman, whose acts deserves to be copied with pride.
5. Laxmi Saa :
From an acid attack survivor to a face of fashion brand, this is a courageous story. Just 15 and she was attacked by a 32 year old man, whose advances she refused to accept. He threw acid on her face but she survived. Though her face yet has all the burns, she then gathered all the signatures and initiated a petition to regulate acid sale in the markets. Her petition was heard by Supreme court of India and the state governments were asked to regulate the sale of acid. She started her own NGO to help Acid attack victims and her courageous moves have awarded her numerous awards, including International Women of Courage award in 2014 by US First Lady Michelle Obama.
While girls get on their nerves when it comes to fashion and their figure, she has challenged every girl out here. She fought back her terrible condition, admired what she is after the attack and now is The Face of Courage of Viva N Diva Fashion brand
Watch her video right here . She is not just a survivor, but a Motivator to every person in this world.
6. Sarla Thakral :
She is one unsung hero, who could challenge numerous women even today. She saw her dreams in skies and went to fulfil as she became the first Indian women to fly an aircraft. She earned an aviation pilot licence at the age of 21, in 1936, times when this sector was male driven all across the world. Also, when she did that she had a 4year old daughter. We, the women, forget our dreams, quit our aspirations once we have kids. And later, blame it all to the life post kids even if we have supporting surroundings. Then, what should we call Ms. Sarla, since she conquered in the ages of male chauvinism, after giving birth to a daughter. That calls for a confidence of a woman.
Sarla took the pilot’s cockpit of a Gypsy Moth in a saree and made a history as India’s first lady pilot. She also obtained her “A” license after accumulating 1000 hours of flying. As she was about to attain her commercial Pilot license, the World War II broke out and her husband died in an airplane crash. Post this, She took over to her interest in Arts and became an entrepreneur in custom jewellery and designing. She indeed is a face of confident women, who tap upon their dreams and cross all the hurdles to achieve them.
7. Kanika Tekriwal :
A young bubbling girl who loved the aviation industry and was working for it while she was just 17. She wanted to give her dreams a fly in the form of providing an Online market place for hiring Charter services but for her too the luck was not that easy. She was diagnosed with cancer and the first result she heard from her doctor was “Kanika, you have very little time”, as she says. She was hardly 22 at that time. But her strength, her determination to live and her faith in doctors across this country, made her stand once again within a year with the tag of founder of “JetSetGo”. JetSetGo is an interactive platform which enables the users to search and charter aircrafts and helicopters across India.
At such a small age, battling with cancer and indeed turning her dreams into a reality does makes us proud of having such strong headed women in India.
8. Neerja Bhanot :
Yes, after the movie Neerja, most of us have known about her life. A girl, a senior flight purser of Pan Am was shot killed when her flight was hijacked by 4 terrorists at Karachi Airport in Pakistan. It was not that simple, since she was the one who saved hundreds of the lives in that flight single handedly with her intelligence that day. Even after being hit by the bullet she continued to save people by sending them via emergency exit and being the leader of the crew she did not exit herself until all were safe. Though few more people died on that flight that day, she became martyr forever.
She was bubbly girl, but her painful marriage had wounded her a lot. She had abusive husband who was more in love with getting dowry and even in those days she listened to her heart and divorced that man.
Bhanot received India’s highest gallantry Award, The Ashoka Chakra and is the youngest and the first woman recipient of it. One should watch movie Neerja, which instills a live terrorism and how a girl single handedly tackled the situation. It needs a brave heart, an intellectual mind and an sense of gratitude and kindness for what she did.
9. Mary Kom :
Mary Kom needs no introduction, since she has been shown in the limelight. But, there is something in her which inspires a mom in me and that’s why I salute to her. She was born and brought up in a poor family and she helped her parents in the field even when she was very young. She loved sports, but definitely did not play Boxing, a typical masculine sport. When a Manipuri Boxer won Gold Medal at Asian games, something ignited her and she took up that sport. Life was not easy for her to get trained in Boxing.
But her hard work, determination to excel made her 5-time World Amateur Boxing Champion. Even motherhood did not deter her and she continued her training and efforts even after she became a mom. Hell, that’s when most of us leave everything. Yes, this is why this lady inspires me tons. She has won many Gold’s in many championships and her Bronze in Summer Olympics and Gold in Asian Championships are cherished.
She is also the only women boxing champion to get a medal in each of the six championships that she has participated in.
Get up Girls, wake up moms, It’s the time to give your dreams a fly. These 9 women in such diverse fields have much more to their credits. I would ask you to research on each one of them and read their detailed stories. I did that, I had tears, I could barely speak. But at the end, I was firm to give my dreams a fly, no matter what. None of us have an easy life, but what matters is to stand against all the odds and achieve those dreams which might remain dream till we die. Passion never dies but circumstances may die! Our Steps will not end but complaints will end!
Move on ladies, fulfil your dreams. No one in this world can hold it back. You are loving yet ferocious, Give a pat on your back and start your journey.
I would love my readers to share more such inspiring stories here in the comment section.