The word 'Shakti' means the power or energy of women as personified and expressed by divine females, the alter egos of every-woman. 'Shakti' is amply portrayed in these women's accounts of their experiences.The stories collected here record the lives of Indian women from Hindu, Muslim and Christian backgrounds living in the Pietermaritzburg area of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and they demonstrate the pride these women have in their ancient cultures as well as their strength and determination in adversity.The value of this collection does not merely lie in its ability to entertain; the stories reveal the women's sense of their own worth in an at times hostile society, as wives, teachers, political activists, professionals and religious leaders.There is an urgent need to appreciate and celebrate the religious and cultural beliefs and practices of others. In recent years, stories of people in 'previously disadvantaged' communities have tended to overlook the experiences of Indian women. "Shakti: Stories of Indian Women" attempts to give expression to voices that represent a vibrant and vital section of this county's diverse population.
Alleyn Diesel taught Religious Studies at the University of Natal during the 1990s, concentrating on the place of Indian women in Hinduism. It was during this research that she met many lively and friendly women who were eager to share their experiences, eventually resulting in this publication.