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Navaraatraa Celebrations Extol Femininity of Creation

The ongoing festivities of Navaraatraa basically are dedicated to the Goddess Durga. It is a nine day festival. Each day of the festival season is designated for worshipping the Goddess in one of its various manifestations. There is abundance of religious literature on the subject. Over centuries of celebrations, a variety of worship and celebrations has also evolved. As is usual, Durga Poojaa or Navraatraa celebrations are full of fervour, gusto, enthusiasm and merry making. It is the season of festivities, as it is followed by Dusheraa and Diwaali festivals, which are the biggest of Indian festivals.
It is great business for commerce. The new crop is likely to be harvested around Diwaali (Diwali) and that adds to the high spirits. The weather is excellent after the monsoon withdrawal and onset of mild winter. From October to March, the next six months are for thorough enjoyment. The significance of the Navraatraas or Nine Nights lies in acknowledging the importance of the feminine in Life. It is the period for the Goddess to reign over the universe. It only reiterates the fact that without the contribution of the female, life cannot be sustained. The whole life cycle will come to a fatal halt. At social and cultural level, under the ill influence of religion in some societies, women are not treated as equals of men; indeed they are considered inferior to men and treated very badly and even violently. Putting a scarlet letter round the neck of a woman or inscribing on her forehead bad words or trying to kill her as in the case of Malala Yousafzai are instances of gender discrimination. In fact, it betrays the poverty of ideas of those subscribing to thoughts of discrimination and their ignorance. The fact of the matter is that the woman is equal to man.
Without going in to details, let me give just one instance of the critical contribution of the female in the family. It is the lioness which kills the prey and the lions feed on it. In human society, the best fed are those families where the woman is in charge of food. Extend the logic to every walk of life and the value of the contribution of the women will become as clear as sunlight. Indian view on the subject is that both the male and the female complement each other, make valuable contribution , stand together through thin and thick and neither dominates. Contribution of both is important. Referring to the religious aspect of the festivities, the coming Dusheraa is the celebration of the conclusion of Raam-Raavan (Ram-Ravan) war. A war means loss of physically fit and able young men in large numbers. Raising children immediately after war becomes a demographic necessity. Without women cooperating, contributing and participating enthusiastically in such programmes, success can’t be ensured.
Since most men suffer delusions of their physical superiority, they need to be sensitized to the physical prowess of women by portraying their mighty forms like the Goddess Durga, who killed the monster Mahisaasur in a battle and provided relief to the people. Human history is replete with the heroic deeds of women. It is a sign of glory of any civilization if it respects its women as men. Such qualities tell of a highly evolved society. It has rightly been said by ancient Indian thinkers that wherever women are respected that house is also the abode of the Gods (Atra Naariyastu poojyate, ramante tatra devtaa). In order to drive this view to promote a healthy attitude towards women, the Navaraatraa festival is but one holy and healthy mechanism. If the world adopted such ideas and respected its girl child and women, there would not be another Malala incident in the world. If the women of the world take on armed terrorists and beat them at their game, peace would become a reality in life. All men and women are invited this Navraatraa to ponder over the gender issues and develop a scientific attitude acknowledging the fact that both men and women are equal partners, equal halves of a single identity which complement each other to make the whole. The illusion of diversity is nothing more than the existence of enclaves of gravity in the arena of zero gravity. What appears to the human eye is not the reality, but that which is beyond the sight is also not easy to comprehend unless special efforts are made. Like the mathematical infinity of the universe, there exists the variety of men and women, which never reaches 50:50, because that is the state of perfection, which only God is capable of being. So Lord Mahaadev (Mahadev) alone is called Ardhanaareswar or half male & half female. In all others, the difference of even a fraction imparts individuality to the person. That makes everyone of us so different from each other. Navraatraa celebrates such identity, diversity and individuality. Let us sing and dance as they do as a group in a circle on the beats of the daandiyaas (sticks) in their hands to celebrate it.

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