A spectrum of vibrant colours, chaos of patterns and their countless reflections render a kaleidoscope truly fascinating. Similarly, a myriad of traits, volatility of expressions and the ability to create infinite transformations in the world around her make a woman truly enigmatic. “She is so glorious that one’s eyes cannot see the splendour with which she shines. She can be terrifying like a vengeful lightning and life-giving like the morning sun. Both her forms are incomprehensible,” writes Benedictian abbess and poet Saint Hildegard, in one of her illustrated works Scivias.
Perhaps, the air of mystery surrounding her is why the woman has been revered and rejoiced as a goddess since ancient times. Despite the cultural dichotomy prevalent today, legendary goddesses with their dynamism and drive still shine forth. Soulveda explores a few festivities that celebrate the multiple facets of goddesses across cultures.
Grace and beauty
When one pictures anything feminine, grace and beauty are probably the first attributes that command attention. Incidentally, in the Greek mythology, Aphrodite is revered as the goddess of beauty, grace, sensuality and pleasure. She is identified with planet Venus, which symbolises femininity and poise. The festival Aphrodisia is still relevant even today and is celebrated in the months of July and August.
Hathore is celebrated as the goddess of beauty and a patron of cosmetic art in Egypt. Known as the mistress of life, she is considered the embodiment of romance, perfume, dance, music and all the fine things in life.
Devotion and determination
In the Hindu mythology, goddesses Sita and Parvati are synonymous to devoutness. But the singular devotion and resolve of Radha is exemplary. Albeit a mortal, her unwavering love for Lord Krishna inspires millions to celebrate Radha Kalyanam–one of the lesser known festivals in India. As per ancient scriptures, Radha’s love was unrequited. Nevertheless, to this day, wedding rituals are conducted for the idols of Radha and Krishna to symbolise the divine union of the creation with its creator.
The legendary Chinese Mooncake Festival, dedicated to the moon goddess, is celebrated in Southeast Asia. The legend goes that a skilled archer Houyi was given the elixir of life as a reward for slaying demons. However, unwilling to part with his wife Change, he was hesitant to drink it. Meanwhile, another rival archer who coveted the treasure entered Houyi’s home while he was away and tried to persuade Change to hand over the elixir to him. Change’s devoutness to Houyi and her persistence to not part with the treasure led to the misfortune of Change consuming the elixir herself. It is believed that she chose to live on the moon as it was the closest she could be to her husband henceforth.
The Roman goddess Minerva is believed to be an incarnation of intellect and wisdom. She is believed to be the origin of creativity.
Within each woman is a sacred temple of goddesses–an amalgam of qualities–waiting to surface.