The Nine Nights Of The Divine Mother
For most people, the Navaratras symbolise fasting, going to the Goddess’ temples and other ritualistic practices. For me, it also signifies a deeper connection to my heart, fighting the injustices of this world, especially against women.Durga is the symbol of supreme woman power or Nari Shakti. She represents everything the ideal woman could be — bold, courageous and fighting against evil. In all her many different forms, Durga vanquishes demons plaguing the universe. It is in honour of all the goodness that Goddess Durga performed, that this special nine-day festival of worship is performed. The literal meaning of the word Durga is a ‘fort’. The significance of this title is that Durga protects her devotees much like a fort protects an empire. Often, devotees chant, Durga Durgati Nashini, meaning Durga shall put an end to all misfortunes. Goddess Durga is the symbol of Supreme Woman Power. In all her different forms, Durga vanquishes demons plaguing the universe. In Hinduism, the goddess Durga, also known as Shakti or Devi, is the protective mother of the universe. She is one of the faith’s most popular deities, a protector of all that is good and harmonious in the world. She is usually depicted sitting astride a lion or tiger, and with her many limbs, she battles the forces of evil, relentlessly in the world. Indeed, the world would be a perfect place if in the twenty-first century, women were respected just as Ma Durga was, inspiring devotion and respect. When we follow the rituals prescribed in the nine-day worship of Durga, it gives us all a chance to remember the many facets of a woman’s personality. Each one of the nine days is dedicated to worshipping the nine different forms of the Goddess Durga who symbolises purity, power and divinity. There are many legends associated with Durga, and in each version, these three overriding aspects of her personality shine through. It is pertinent to ask ourselves whether we now perform these rituals in the same spirit of devotion and dedication that marked them several thousands of years ago. This nine-day festival that has now become a huge social and cultural festival, is also a time when we should question ourselves whether women are being given their rightful place alongside men. Let us work towards a world where both men and women work together in equal partnership and vow to make the world a better place for all. May all women learn from Ma Durga and be creative, divine and strong for women are the forces of this universe, the nurturers like Mother Earth. They are the flowing water without which Earth would remain barren and unfertile. The Navratras end with Dussehra or Vijaya Dashmi, a major festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil. It makes people think and urges them to get rid of all negativity that lies inside them. This refers to negative emotions such as greed, jealousy, anger, and lust. This year, as we worship Ma Durga, let us all remember to rid ourselves of these emotions.