Premier John Horgan acknowledges importance of the goddess Durga in advance of major Hindu celebration

Navrati, which begins tonight, is a nine-night festival honouring one of the religion's most revered deities

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      There's a reason why the Hindu goddess Durga is often depicted riding a tiger or a lion.

      That's because she is associated with protection, unlimited strength, and motherhood—a deity who represents good over evil and who isn't shy about exercising that power when warranted.

      Today, B.C. premier John Horgan paid his respects to Durga, an icon of feminism to some, in a statement marking the beginning of Navrati.

      "Over the next nine nights and 10 days, Hindu communities will come together to honour and give thanks to the deity Durga, the feminine energy and her nine forms," Horgan said. "The festival of Vijayadashami, or Dussehra, is celebrated on the final day—marking the triumph of good over evil and the start of Diwali preparations.

      “For the first time in a few years, more of this year’s Navratri celebrations will be shared in person again, as people safely come back together. Families and friends will gather to pray, fast and enjoy traditional dances like dandiya and garba, and share special meals."

      Even though Vancouver artist Sandeep Johal comes from a Sikh family, she has been drawn to tigers because of the Hindu goddess Durga.
      Laara Cerman

      Durga's appeal extends beyond Hindu communities.

      In an interview with the Straight earlier this year, Vancouver artist Sandeep Johal—who was raised in a Sikh family—acknowledged that in part due to Durga, she has been inspired to include tigers in some of her works.

      For example, she painted a woman sitting on a branch beside a tiger for the 2022 Vancouver Lantern Festival

      In another piece for the Vancouver Mural Festival in 2017, Johal painted a woman riding a tiger in black-and-white.

      “The title of the mural was Fierce Like Tigers, and I found that quote on the side of a convenience store,” Johal recalled in January. “It was on some kind of poster. It said, ‘Girls are fierce like tigers.’ I thought that was an incredible sentiment.”