Woman Power of Bengal

Bengal is an ardent worshiper of woman power in several various divine forms. Maa Durga and Maa Kali are the most worshiped manifestations of the Supreme Power. In Bengal, many women of flesh and blood have revealed this power. It is their epoch-making activities and extraordinary achievements which have put Bengal on the world map of art, entertainment, literature, politics and spirituality. Some of those powerful women raised Bengal to the height of a place of pilgrimage; some added a new dimension to the entertainment sector of Bengal; some enriched the literature of Bengal, and some changed the socio-political scenario of Bengal. Slice of Real Life is sharing with you about the six of Bengal’s most powerful women.

Maa Sarada – the divine power of Bengal

An eternal embodiment of simplicity and forbearance, love and affection, Sarada Maa is a spiritual image and divine force of Bengal. Worshipped as the Holy Mother all over the world, she used to lead the life of a simple village woman. An exemplary embodiment of sacrifice as well as self denial, she remained calm and maintained her composure even in great difficulties. She used to treat all beings including birds and animals as her children, and shower unconditional love on whoever would come to her. In Sister Nivedita’s words, “Her life was long stillness of prayer”. She advised everyone to learn from everything under the sun, even from a non-living thing like broom. A great manifestation of divine purity and spiritual wisdom, Sarada Maa is the ideal for modern women, according to Swami Vivekananda.

Mahasweta Devi – the literary power of Bengal

A powerful writer of Bengal. She has contributed immensely to the rise of Bengali literature in popularity at home and abroad. Many of her literary classics give a touching account of tribal life in various Indian states, reflecting the voice and focusing on the struggles of tribal communities. She has also donned the hat of a social activist fighting for the human rights of women and dalits in West Bengal. If the age-old saying ‘Pen is mightier than sword’ is true, pen has been the most powerful weapon for her to fight social evils like brutal oppression of the tribal people in the rural backwaters of India, through her writings. Mahasweta Devi was the face of India in the 2006 Frankfurt Book Fair. She had delivered a powerful inaugural speech which touched the listeners to the core. Educated at the prestigious Shantiniketan and inspired by the philosophy of Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore, Mahasweta Devi represents the literary power of Bengal.

Suchitra Mitro – the melodious voice of Bengal

One of the most eminent exponents of Rabindra sangeet, a literary genre of Bengali music. Suchitra Mitro’s is justifiably regarded as the melodious voice of Bengal. The lyrical beauty of Rabindra sangeets is to be felt in the melody of her voice. A glorious era of Bengali music ended with her demise on 4th January this year (2011). The year when Bengal celebrated the poet’s 150 birth anniversary. In her words, Tagore’s music was her only religion and giving voice to Tagore’s compositions was her only passion. The poet’s message of love, peace and devotion reached the corners of India through her voice. From the early childhood, she was interested in creative pursuits in general and music in particular. She was initiated into the world of music by the renowned Amita Sen. She had undergone a formal training at Visva Bharati in Shantiniketan. Her first album was released in 1945. Her career in music was a span of over 50 years. Suchitra Mitro breathed life into the lyrics composed by Rabindranath Tagore, in the truest and purest expression of his music. Being a singer, a teacher, an actress and an activist at the same time, she was a multifaceted personality.

Matangini Hazra- the woman nationalist spirit of Bengal

The woman power of Bengal had manifested itself during the Quit India Movement in 1942. Matangini Hazra’s participation in the movement was the supreme manifestation of Bengal’s woman power. In rural backwaters of the then undivided Bengal, peasant women collectively joined the protest against land tenure and taxes. Matangini Hazra was the most courageous and daring of those women in the sub divisions of Midnapur district. On 29 September the residents of Tamluk, a sub division of Midnapur, marched towards the town to capture the police station and the court. Facing confrontation with the army guarding the court, the protestors hesitated to move forward and stepped back. But Matangini Hazra, 73 year old widow, moved forward braving all odds and lifting the Congress flag high. Such is the woman spirit of Bengal!

Aparna Sen – powerful actor and director of Bengal

The only female director of international repute in the Bengali film industry. Aparna Sen debuted as a director with 36 Chawranghee Lane an English film which won her the National Award for best direction. Since then, she has continued her directorial journey with such sensible cinematic creations as Sati, Parama, Yugant, Mr & Mrs Iyer, The Japanese Wife and Iti Mrinalini. In the movies which belong to the early phase of her directorial career, she focused on crucial women issues. Daughter of Chidanda Das Gupta an illustrious filmmaker and critic, Aparna Sen has earned fame for acting and bagged several prestigious awards, to name the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award and the Padmashree Award. She has served as a member of the jury at International Film Festival of India, Hawaii International Film Festival and Moscow International Film Festival.

Mamata Banerjee – the political power of Bengal

The latest brand face of Bengal at home and abroad. Mamata Banerjee has emerged as a transformer of West Bengal and made an epoch in the hundreds of year old political history of this Indian state by bringing the Left Front party to its knees. She struggled her way to the political throne of Bengal by standing beside the afflicted and fighting for the rights of the deprived and protesting against iniquities, be it social or political over the years. She is one of the living embodiments of woman power that Swami Vivekananda had thought of. She was hurt, humiliated and hated during the initial years of her political career, but nothing could cow down the iron lady. She built a concrete development model for Bengal while being at the helm of the railway industry. It put her in good books of the political and apolitical worlds. Mamata, the Chief Minister of Bengal at present, embodies the ideology, “Simple living and high thinking”. Now the hopes and expectations of Bengal’s people center round her.

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