‘Woman’ is about the immense and diverse nature of womanhood, through the lens of the Goddess Durga. It is about all the different aspects of womanhood and how women are made to categorize themselves into different boxes – nurturing, smart, beautiful, angry – but in reality being a woman is all of these things and so much more. The song is meant to signify that a woman can be all or none of these things, and still be entirely woman in her nature. Durga Ma is one of the most powerful Hindu gods, and is revered for her seemingly limitless capabilities, and each lyric is a translation of one of her many names, deciphering her many qualities and attributes.
When I learned about the story behind Boston Chai Party, I thought it was such an incredible match with my beliefs. Besides being responsibly sourced, the people behind BCP care for where their tea comes from, and are committed to doing better by and for the families and community that pick the tea leaves and continue this wonderful tea tradition. Part of their profits go to a school for disabled children in the area and in addition, they source their tea directly from the Amgoorie tea farm in Assam, in India while supporting women workers and farmers in the local area.
The intention behind my song was to empower women everywhere, of all different kinds. It was to signify that we can be one, and at the same time can be completely different from one another. But in the end, we do not need to be any certain way in order to experience womanhood.
This song is about Varsha’s conflicting feelings towards the appropriation of Eastern religion in Western music, and therefore Western culture. It is about her frustration that Indian culture and religion is filtered through Western ideals of right and wrong to be fed to white audiences with misinterpreted understandings of their roots.
While she do not believe that religion should be bound to ethnicity, and Hinduism is one of the most liberal and accommodating religions of today, Varsha feels conflicted about whether it is okay for people who do not fully practice the religion to pick and choose which parts of it are ‘cool’, without properly attributing what they are using to those who created it.
There is a special shared aspect of the spirit of this song to Boston Chai Party’s origins. BCP’s story is fascinating – born out of a desire to re-create an authentic experience in Chai or tea, the way it is had in India, and to foster this tradition among people that might otherwise see chai as just another flavor, where it is “misrepresented” in their own words, as chai latte or chai-tea.
Varsha loved the way that BCP strives to educate its community – and those unfamiliar – to the origins of chai, and its long history and tradition. There are so many stereotypes and judgements towards South Asian people in today’s Western world, and yet somehow aspects of Indian lifestyle such as yoga, ‘hippie culture’ (chakras, alternative medicine, henna), etc are considered cool and new when expressed by non-South Asian demographics. But as an immigrant owned, person-of-color run business, Boston Chai Party shows such an inspiring commitment to retaining the authenticity of the original experience that is really valuable. Striking the right balance when porting the essence of a rich culture as we build its appreciation in other parts of the world with humility and respect, is a strong shared goal here.