In the closing decades of the nineteenth century in a land already thronging with all manner of gods and goddesses there surfaced a novel deity of nation and country who at some moments in the subsequent years seemed to tower over them all. Invoked in English as “Mother India” and most usually in most Indian languages as “Bharat Mata” (literally “India Mother”), she was over time imagined as the substantial embodiment of national territory – its inviolable essence, its shining beacon of hope and liberation – and also as a powerful rallying symbol in it’s long hard struggle for independence from the modern world’s largest empire.The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India, Sumathi Ramaswamy
Most representations of Mother India are similar to Ravi Varma’s paintings of goddesses, a woman in a sari juxtaposed against a map of India and often with symbols of Shakti like the tiger or trident. In early artwork she is often present along with national leaders. [X] [X]. There are exceptions, most notably Abanindranath’s early painting of the country as a goddess.
There are a few other exceptions to this in the early 20th century. Decidedly the jauntiest of “Bharat Matas” is the one on the cover of the publications of the Gadar Party, [X] [X]. Arguably the figure is not a goddess given the founder of the party was an atheist, nevertheless the illustration does evoke representations of the era where a woman embodied the spirit of an independent country. The party was based in the US which perhaps also accounts for the illustration, which is part goddess, part modern Indian woman.
As to fashion notes, note the headband which came into vogue around the 1910s.