Lost Indian Goddesses is the photographic project expat art photographer Victoria Krundysheva. She explores the peculiar disparity found in the Indian subcontinent with regards to the treatment and expectations of women.
On one hand, female mythological figures and the goddesses of Hinduism are depicted as figures of utmost power and unquestionable serenity, yet in the real world, India remains a proverbial disaster-area when it comes to gender discrimination in favour of men. The problem is not unique to this part of the world, however, as similar unbalance plagues many other regions globally.
Krundysheva brings together these opposing concepts by using modern women to portray specific goddesses that are well-known in the Indian culture. Should the idolisation worship of feminine religious figures have no bearing on the way women are treated here on Earth?
Though the photo series refers to figures of Indian religions, the photographer emphasises the systemic nature of the problem, something that transcends any one country.
“I believe this photo series metaphorically reflects the significance of the internal fight every woman has against conditioning, the possession power and the different sides of one individual. The photo series doesn't show discrimination against women or gender bias only in India; it's an issue all over the world,” she said.
As Krundysheva elaborates on the concept behind the Lost Indian Goddesses, she explains the dissimilarity between role of women in myths versus that in reality.
“So much power is given to women in myths and the Vedas, yet in life they are frowned upon for taking any decisions for themselves. You worship all-powerful Durga, but tell women to know their place. You welcome Laxmi at your home, but frown upon bahu who's making a career and expect your daughter to leave work after marriage. Your goddess Kali is naked, but you ask your girlfriend to cover up and criticise that woman in the crop-top. You make your daughter conscious of her body – instead of conquering evil, she is fighting herself.”
The photographer’s message becomes particularly poignant when considering the relatively dire state of gender equality in emerging nations such as India on a social level. While the subcontinent has installed laws to protect women, generations of work inequality, instances of rape, dowry and years of harsh patriarchy allow highly discriminatory practices to continue at an alarming rate – here and in many other developing parts of the world.
Credit on the collaboration behind Lost Indian Goddesses goes to fashion designer Parul Bhargava, make-up artist Pratibha Sonawane and jewellery firm Jaipur Gems.