The Concept of Feminine ‘Devi’nity


With the oncoming of the Durga Puja, we welcome yet another stream of corporate bandwagon which leaves no stone unturned to establish the fact that they are all in for women empowerment-

As long as it benefits their revenue collection.

It is a fact universally acknowledged that women are incapable of being mediocre in the respect and tolerance they may receive from society. According to us, there are broadly two categories of women- the prostitutes and the ‘Devi’ [Goddess].

The word ‘Prostitute’ in this context is not treated as a mere terminology. It is, in fact, a reflection of the character and the sexual liberation a woman achieves. Whereas, a ‘Devi’ is a woman who has kept her ‘virginity’ and the term is reserved for a woman who is sexually ‘pure’ and ‘untouched’.

Durga Puja and the Bengali Culture associated with it revolves around the theme of normalising the sexual liberation of women. But as is expected from a voluminous population, this concept has been deformed to such an extent that it has been reduced to a watered-down version of its vast significance.

[Photo Courtesy: Team JournaPost/Sayan Majumder]

‘Treat the women of Sonagachi with Respect’ is the notion that spreads like wildfire during the Durga Puja Campaigns but unfortunately, the Respect that they are talking about is applicable only if the woman is a victim. Women who consensually choose to become sex workers are barely acknowledged not to mention the treatment received by those independent women who who do not treat sex as a sacred deed that can only be committed post-marriage. Sonagachi is the biggest prostitution in Asia, located mostly in the Sovabazaar area of Kolkata. There is one unique characteristic of Sonagachi that sets it apart from almost all the prostitution rings in the world. The women chose to be here, in their own accord. The reasons for choosing sex work as a profession, obviously, varies, but the decision to be willingly there remains a constant. 

When posed with questions related to themed ‘media bandwagon’ during the Durga Pujas, Arunima Kar, the Digital Head of Radio Mirchi Bangla, shared multiple insightful comments regarding the campaigns.

‘Seasonality with responses about digital content on prostitution is very real because the audience is driven by the influence of Durga Puja rather than empathising with them. Sex work is acceptable, only if the audience is held on a religious gunpoint.

People who are fighting against legalising sex work are people who do not understand the importance and the significance of consensual sex work.’

She further added, ‘Mostly, brands are aware of the importance of prostitution and empathise with the women. They are not victims and the brands do not consider them as such. But, the seasonality in responses is proof that the audience is not ready and are vehemently unwilling to accept reforming ideas and hence, the brands are trying to atleast start the discussion even if seasonal.’

The ‘Devi’-fication of women is a serious and extremely prevalent issue that deserves the spot in the limelight that is reserved for controversies.

[Photo Courtesy: Team JournaPost/Sayan Majumder]

During the year 2022, Durga Puja Pandal of Nawpara Dadabhai Sangh Puja Committee in Kolkata came up with a unique theme ‘Parichai’. This pandal depicts the life of sex workers, the kind of society they live in and the way society looks at them. [Source:ANI]

This pandal has been subjected to extreme backlash from multiple sources and the majority of the citizens. An article of ‘Hindupost’ has been particularly vocal about the sheer disrespect of this theme.


This is an indicator of society’s mindset where, even though the idol is made from the soil gifted by the prostitutes, the concept of the Devi must be a symbol of ‘Purity’. It can clearly be concluded, that a woman’s respect comes with its own set of terms and conditions.

According to the personal beliefs of this humble writer, celebrating Durga Puja and spreading the concept of ‘Women Empowerment’ is inconsequential if empowerment comes with terms and conditions that are directly correlated to the woman’s vagina. 

Just like how the idol of Maa Durga can not be made without the blessed soil offered by the sex workers of Sonagachi, Women, too, are incomplete without embracing their sensuality and acknowledging their sexual urges without the fear of being subjected to irrational hatred from the society, as a whole.


‘আমি চিত্রাঙ্গদা, আমি রাজেন্দ্রনন্দিনী।

                     নহি দেবী, নহি সামান্যা নারী।

                   পূজা করি মোরে রাখিবে ঊর্ধ্বে

                                  সে নহি নহি,

                   হেলা করি মোরে রাখিবে পিছে

                                  সে নহি নহি।’- চিত্রাঙ্গদা[Chitrangada],

                                                                 রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর[Rabindranath Tagore]


Enakshi Ganguly


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