A lotus flower and decorative halo are normally depicted with the Hindu goddess Durga. When Mumbai-based artist Aniket Mitra put them on an image of a sanitary pad ahead of an annual festival honouring the goddess, the public backlash and threats were intense and he removed the artwork from his social media accounts, reported Yahoo News on 3 October 2018.
Mitra’s work highlights how his wife won’t be able to take part in the upcoming Durga Puja festival if she is menstruating, since menstruating women are considered ‘impure’ and banned from places of worship. The caption for the illustration says ‘manifestation of strength’, according to The New Indian Express.
“I just wanted to start a discourse on normalising periods,” Mitra told InUth.
“My artwork is just a reflection of what I had seen and experienced in everyday life. My wife loves the Ashtami Anjali (a ritual on the eighth day of Durga Puja), but when she gets her period on Ashtami, she cannot participate in something she loves. There’s no such restriction for men so my artwork was an attempt at understanding how infuriating it can be for all women.”
The artist received threats online after his artwork was shared more than 4,000 times in one day.
“If this was south India, people would have already chopped off his hands. We Bengalis are extremely tolerant but this is an insult to our Maa Durga and we won’t tolerate it,” one user commented on Mitra’s post, according to NDTV.
A complaint of ‘hurting religious sentiments’ was made to Kolkata Police, reported The New Indian Express.