What’s in a name?’ you may well ask.
Well, it all started fourteen years ago, when our daughter was telling us she was pregnant. ‘Out-of-the-blue,’ I had blurted, ‘And what name will give the baby?’ Without hesitation, she had replied ‘Minakshi.’ ‘Hope it is a girl then,’ I had said.
After a baby is born, it is customary to have the Vedic astrology cast. Now I did not know where or who to turn to? Although my father could have mapped-out the chart from the time of birth, growing-up in Singapore with most of my Chinese friends, I had rebelled against the practise, dismissing it as archaic.
We then heard of a Canadian accountant, who had been directed by his Guru to take up the study of this ‘science.’ Although I had forgotten some of his forecast, it was only a few years ago, when Mina, had expressed an interest in Karate,’ Gayatri reminded us of his words, ‘Put her in martial-arts!’ Mina won Gold in her very first karate competition in Wales beating all despite being a ‘newbie’. Since then, Karate, and particularly Kumite-Combat has been Mina’s passion and she has collected a trail of medals.
As I researched on her namesake, whom we all originally had thought was the gentle loving healer – ‘The Green Goddess’- I was intrigued to find Meenakshi Devi had been an invincible warrior-princess! Defying society’s gender role, Meenakshi grew up like a man. She conquered all the kingdoms from Madurai in the South to the most northern tip of Kailash. She won every battle. No man could defeat her!
I picture a dusky, androgynous, horse-riding, sword wielding South Indian feminist Meenakshi who represented the power of women.
In the famous Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple, one can see wall paintings and sculptures showing the warrior-princess taking aim with a bow and arrow, taming elephants, and engaged in sword fighting with men,
Of course we did not know of the history of the Goddess Meenakshi Devi, but it is fascinating to see how a baby born in a different culture, in a corner of the western world could attract a name so true to her nature.
I was entirely captivated by the narrative of the Green Goddess and enthralled at the pictures which emerged almost of its own accord, as I drew simply for children and I hope the story will be just as enthralling for the reader of any age, as it was for the writer-illustrator.