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The Dance of Durga

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Rajjo was always different. Hauntingly beautiful and determined, her ability to predict the future marked her out as special even when she was a child growing up in rural Punjab. Married young to an abusive older man, she runs away to Rani Maa’s ashram.

Here, Rajjo sets herself up as a Godwoman - rich and powerful - in the surreal world of the ashram, where belief, sensation and commerce come together in a
heady mix.

Even as she settles into her new role as Durga, she falls passionately in love with Harsh Vardhan, who is married to another woman. Now Durga must choose. Will she fulfil her destiny or write her own future?

The Dance of Durga is a powerful drama about human desire, faith, and a woman’s journey to find true love.

Published April 1, 2016

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Kanika Dhillon

3 books12 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews
3 reviews30 followers
April 10, 2019
This book should be made into a movie. It’s has everything. Romance. Politics. Lust. Betrayal.

Kanika Dhillon takes you on an unforgettable journey through rural Punjab and a spiritual existence.

Rajjo has an impact on everyone’s mind. Her fire and ambition literally make you rethink the way you choose to see the world.

Even though the story dragged on a bit, it’s one hell of a read for a long vacation.

After Urmila by Prvin, this was a heartfelt journey from a women’s eyes.
Profile Image for Shreya Vaid.
184 reviews1 follower
May 15, 2016
From a small village girl to a Godwoman, The Dance of Durga is a tale that will enchant you with its beauty and surprise you with the brutality a woman faces, to achieve her heart's desires.

The Dance of Durga by Kanika K. Dhillon follows the story of Rajjo aka Durga, born in a small village in Punjab. Before her birth, her grandmother shared a prophecy that she will be God's child, she will bring name and fame to the family, people will bow to her. And since Rajjo's birth, the prophecy starts playing her hand in making her life.

Rajjo was born with the ability to predict future. To save her innocence from people's questionable intentions, her mother Saroj, always kept her in check. But Rajjo was a wild child, who wanted to see the world, who wanted to run away from the shackles of family and a small town. She sees her dreams coming true via Kashmir Singh, who promised the world to her. But the dreams comes crashing down when Kashmir Singh vanishes, leaving Rajjo broken and her faith in Shani God poured down the drain. Along with her heart, the idol of Shani God she carried around her, was lying broken in the mud, under her bedroom's window.

The family marries Rajjo off to an abusive older man. After years of abuse and nonchalance, she runs off to Rani Ma's Ashram. Enticed with Rani Ma and the power she holds, Rajjo sees her future clearly. She decides to become a Godwoman, Durga Maa, rich and powerful, setting up her own world of belief, sensation, and commerce, a heady mix that you cannot get off easily.

A concept so strange where a Godwoman who doesn't believe in God, starts selling him to fulfill her dreams of power and to achieve her heart's desire.

But Shani God has some different plans for her. Even as she settles into her new role of Durga Maa, she finds love in Harsh Vardhan, who is married to another woman. Now Durga must choose, will she fulfill her destiny or write her own future? Will she give up power and luxury to be with Harsh Vardhan or will continue on her quest? The Dance of Durga is also like a heady mix, helping you peep into the hidden world of commercial God.

The deity Durga has many forms in the Hindu culture. She is the one who gives birth, takes life and annihilates world when required. In the Dance of Durga, you come across many forms of Rajjo as Durga. You see her taking the pain in the form of torture of lost love and an old husband, you see her determination when she sets out to make her own destiny as a Godwoman, you see her anger when she comes across her lover's wife. So many colors and Rajjo as a character lives up to all of them.

The Dance of Durga is a story that will keep you hooked till the end. Though a little dragged in between, the overall story keeps you engaged. The book would have been better with a little deletion of pages here and there, making the book a little straight and a little shorter. But then what I read was pretty good so no complaints there. And not just the main character Durga, the other supporting characters have a very powerful presence in the story, guiding Rajjo towards her destiny.

Kanika Dhillon's writing is lyrical, has a fragrance of her homeland Punjab. In the Dance of Durga, she has associated the main character with little things from her hometown.It's a book that will introduce to a new woman, the one who wants to live for herself, the one who doesn't give into the destiny, but creates her own. Rajjo's character is breathtaking and so powerful, that you keep the book aside and ponder for a while that a woman like that can really exist in this world?

The Dance of Durga is something that you can definitely devour into this summer!
Profile Image for Anu Lal.
Author 17 books19 followers
May 6, 2016
The Dance of Durga is a novel with its plot set in India. Its appeal, though, is universal. The present body of Indian English Literature is mostly set in urban centers. This trend has set in motion a new feel to the Indian English literature, a new set of vocabulary too. The Dance of Durga is different in that this novel overcomes the obsession of the writers in India writing in English to downplay Indian-ness for a sweeping monolithic urban aesthetics.

The protagonist, Durga aka Rajjo, is not a usual heroine who is all good at heart. The Commentator observed streaks of grey in her persona. She is adamant in fulfilling her personal ambition. Her desire to replace Rani Maa, the godwoman is the driving force that transforms her life. However, the business of the godwoman is not all too spiritual. Observing Rajjo without her desire to achieve higher realms of power and possibilities would take us back to the village girl that she used to be. She suffered bitterly in love as a teenager. Although she is born with the gift of seeing future, she does not see the course her own life was about to take when she fell for Kashi.

After aborting the baby she was pregnant with in Kashi, her family marries her off to a wealthy old man. It’s imperative to question such a ridiculous system. This, though, is the Indian reality. Kanika K. Dhillon uses the machinations of realism in order to create the fantastic journey of Rajjo. The Commentator also noticed that the author used significant sensory details in this novel. As a reader, one could see, hear, and smell the background of the story. The innocence of childhood and village-life is followed by the thunderous catastrophe of Rajjo’s life with the abusive Sethji. The Dance of Durga is a monsoon of a novel.

The novel has two parts named Rajjo and Durga respectively. The first part is Rajjo’s struggle for recognition, the fulfillment of her desire, and survival. The second part is her life as the powerful Durga. Kanika Dhillon has worked previously for movies such as Ra.One by Red Chillies Entertainment Company, and the South Indian movie Size Zero. “She has written the hugely successful TV show for Disney called Ishaan” [Wikipedia]. Kanika’s career started out as “an assistant director to Farah Khan, on Om Shanti Om, and then moved on to Red Chillies's Billu Barber, which was directed by Priyadarshan”[IMDb]. Her skill as a screen writer has been evident in the genuine dialogues that appear in The Dance of Durga.

Kanika Dhillon is also the author of the bestseller Bombay Duck is a Fish (2011).

For more: visit The Indian Commentator
Anu Lal, author of Mount Sermon
Profile Image for Hemant Jain.
313 reviews25 followers
July 3, 2016
An intense story. A tragic story. A story which unmasks the rotten world of God-men/women and then sheds a silent light on the inner lives and tribulations of the people within the folds.

Kanika has created an intense as well as deep character in Durga, the protagonist. She is complex. She is driven by a deep desire which you might feel is unguided at times. For her, there is complete focus. For you, she is lost.

I would easily given it a 5 star but somehow I did not like the way the climax arrived. Nothing wrong with it. just not to my own liking. You might very well like it ... its just personal.

Kanika leaves a LOT for our imagination ... the reader needs to do a lot of story writing/thinking to paint the complete picture and that is where the story you read will be slightly different from the story i read. She often leaves the deep rooted inner feelings of the characters to the reader ... you imagine what they meant and you have your own version of reality.

Excellent writing...
Profile Image for Raju.
7 reviews1 follower
April 23, 2016
This novel is a very ambitious attempt and kudos to the author for writing a multi-layered plot with a narrative to match. The plot which begins in Punjab captures the rural milieu in fine detail. One can virtually smell the earth and experience the sights of rural Punjab. In juxtaposing what was happening in Punjab and in the life of the main character Durga, there is a whiff of Khalid Hosseini’s “A thousand Splendid Suns”. When the narrative bursts onto a larger canvas, it almost makes one pine for a return to Punjab, . The narration of Durga's life traces the classical arc of bhakti : blind devotion, to rejection and then to a quiet realisation of inner faith. Each character is captured with all human frailties and that makes the plot and narrative work at multiple levels. If the plot has to be condensed into one sentence, then this is the story of a passionate woman in all her avatars, hence aptly named “The Dance of Durga”.
608 reviews37 followers
May 8, 2016
A Sydney Sheldon-esque heroine with an outsized ambition; the Godwoman opportunity in a country that buys into anything religious; and a Bollywood style romance that ultimately wins over all odds. An ambitious attempt that doesn't quite make it to the Sydney Sheldon league. More editing and a less confused heroine would have made this a better read. I spent the better part of a long flight following Rajjo's roller-coaster journey. And that red sari, big bindi-wearing Radhe Ma in newspaper headlines will now forever be confused in my head with Rajjo aka Ma Durga.
April 23, 2016
I was one of the lucky few who got a pre order book and what a treat it has been to read it. It was an enjoyable experience and I am happy to have read it. The suspense was gripping and I couldn't put the book down until I finished it!
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