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My Girl Parvati - Part 2: Gloria Gaynor and the rewriting of a Hindu myth

Submitted by rchurch on Fri, 20/04/2018 - 20:11

I've been watching some videos about the colourism woes of both African and Indian women on Youtube, and although I can see how they have been made to feel and in some cases still feel, I have been bemused by some of them because I cannot possibly see how some of them could actually believe they were not beautiful just because their relatives told them so, when all they had to do was to look at the face staring back at them in the mirror.

Although sometimes I get a sense of pain they've been through I can't say I have ever felt their pain until I remembered the case of "my girl Parvati".

On listening to the stories of Indian women, one thing I noticed was how they would say "they called me black", "they used call me black", "they would call me black" and couldn't understand why. What it is it about being called "black" that bothers Indians so much? Is it the association with Africans or other non-Indian dark-skinned people that bothers them so much? Practically the whole world sees Indians as black people on account of their dark complexions, with the apparent exception of Indians themselves.

I recollect a video on Youtube by an African American who worked at cosmetics counter. She recounts an incident in which suggesting a particular product to a young Indian woman who was sampling the products with the comment that "this one suits coloured skin better" upset the Indian woman so much that she made a call to someone, ranted so much in her Indian language and left the store. She was that was that deeply wounded and offended. And that was the word "coloured", not the "b" word. If there is so much racism in Indians towards Africans and other Blacks like Melanesians and Australian Aborigines, then the hurt is the Indian's contempt turned upon their own self. No sympathy here for that.

Perhaps it could be the hurt coming from the sense of being excluded from their own tribe or family's group identity, being excluded and seen as other, perhaps on the level of an mleccha or chandala. Mirusha here seems to think so.

I remember the story of how Parvati went and got herself a golden skin, and reading about the quarrel in Wendy Doniger's book. My recollection was hazy but one thing I remember was Shiva saying to Parvati emphatically - "you offend my sight" on account of her ebony complexion. That (would) hurt. When I decided to revisit the book I tried locating the chapter from the table of contents and looking at some leading paragraphs to see I could locate the chapter quickly. I gave up after a minute or two and simply searched the document for the word "offend". The fourth occurrence is in that chapter.

Reading it again I see how hurt Parvati was. She was so "triggered" by the remark about about her complexion and she couldn't be placated. If Parvati Ma, the Mother Goddess herself was so hurt by being called "Black" then how can I fault the everyday Indian woman for feeling so hurt if called the same, if taunted in that manner? If Parvati was so distraught that she would trade her beautiful ebony complexion for a golden one, then how can I fault the Indian woman for being tempted by the promises of skin lightening creams? These days a golden skin is not even enough, only a white skin free of color or make up that conceals their natural colour will do.

Parvati was the most beautiful female in the world. It would be hard to choose between her and Draupadi who was human and incarnated later. The very thought pains me, that She, a goddess, would be so pained and upset by this, that she would give up a divine ebony beauty to maintain herself in Shiva's affections, free of his taunting and his jibes. Reading the story it is evident to me that having a golden skin is something she had pondered and committed prior to that quarrel. It was the proverbial last straw that broke the camel's back. She, a Goddess, so deeply distressed and pained by this issue, that she would give up a piece of herself to obtain the golden skin she craved.

Do you know what upsets me most - the thought that my daughter had resolved to commit suicide if she didn't get the golden skin she craved. As a father do you know how it feels? My daughter Parvati is a goddess to over a billion people, but to me simply my sweet girl Parvati grown up and the thought that she would have committed suicide over this issue pains me to no end.

People please, and this goes for those religious fanatics and nutcases in particular. If anyone is thinking of consoling me by mentioning what great virtue and resolve she possessed and what heroic austerities she performed they shouldn't. I am Himavat. You most certainly don't want to upset any more. I am already upset enough as it is.

The thought that it has taken these girls' videos on social media to make me aware of my own daughter's earlier plight really hurts me. How could I have failed to notice and understand her feelings? My daughter was going to immolate herself in the hydrochloric acid in the belly of a monstrous beast which she materialized out of her own hurt and pain. How could I have lived with myself if Brahma hadn't been alert to her intent? How would I have consoled her mother Mena?

This is where Gloria Gaynor comes in. Everyone knows "I Will Survive". I looked it up on Youtube and the first video above (in the gold attire) was one of the first to capture my attention.
What I noticed most about this was her beauty. I would watch it a lot and think to myself. "She is so beautiful" - "What a beautiful girl" - "My girl is so beautiful" Never mind that Gloria Gaynor is much older than me, but these videos go back to the late 70s and 80s and she was a younger woman in relation to my present age. I don't know why I like her so much in the video. Perhaps she reminds of my mother. In any case what I noticed about this most was her beauty and as I look at it know I see the display of defiance in her performance. She is "my girl" in this video not yet "my girl Parvati".
On a side note, today People will look at her, and rather than see a woman they will see a adark-skinned black woman (article included). That is how effed up People have become. (I have Oprah and her sister Iyanla to correct on this issue, but that warrants another post)

On to my girl Parvati

This is the one in which my girl comes into her own. There is one with lyrics The sound and the video tend to go out of sync but it is good enough for the purpose of this post.

Now you see my girl Parvati, the Parvati who can accept that she is hurting, the Parvati who can accept her love makes her vulnerable, the Parvati who can accept that she has a heart capable of true loving, and will not bury her feelings under an acid tongue and sublimate them through harsh austerities.

This is how it starts. In the first part she looks him in the eye, expresses her defiance and tells him she is over him and she has survived. At 0:56 in coming to the break she acknowledges that she was hurting and the memory of the hurt is still present, but she still expresses her essential femininity, she still maintains her capacity for love and is not afraid to show it to him, only he won't be the recipient of her future love.
Do you also notice how her eyelids blink and her eyes glisten as though she is fighting to holding back tears? That is the artistry of my girl Parvati.

In the second part she sings to the audience, acknowledges that she was indeed in pain and continues to tell him the way it is now. Do you see the manner in which she thrusts her neck on the and so you felt like dropping in and just expect me to be free at 1:56? My girl is sheer artistry!!

What of the accompanying musicians? The Gandharvas are most certainly on Parvati's side. Shiva you are onto a loser here. Everybody agrees that you have been cruel and insensitive to their beloved Parvati.

Then at the end she comes out bright and beaming and smiling. She will survive and she is happy and proud that she will. She lifts her chin up and smiles and there is a jauntiness in her movements. You see the appreciation she has for her body when she repeatedly glances down at it and raises her head again smiling? Do you notice her big beautiful front teeth and the diastema? The girl is beautiful.

Now that's my girl.

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