For nine nights now we’ve celebrated the Goddess, the Shakti, in all her divine forms. We’ve offered ourselves to her, our dreams and hopes, sought her blessings and danced away the nights to her cosmic tune.
Today the nine nights of Navratri culminate in a glorious day of triumph, Dussehra. It’s the day when Ram killed the demon Ravan and rescued his wife Sita. It’s also the day when the Goddess assumed the form of Durga and killed the demon Mahishasura. Two seperate myths, suggesting the victory of good over evil, of light over darkness. The evil that’s not just in the world outside but also that which resides inside; within all of us.
How meaningful then, that this year Dussehra coincides with the Day of the Girl!
To truly celebrate the Goddess, all the women and girls of this world need to be respected, treated fairly, made to feel safe, be given equal opportunities. To really honour Shakti we must strive to end the injustice that’s been perpetrated against women forever and ever.
For a people who worship the Goddess, it is shocking how appalling our treatment of women can be. Even as you read this, there are thousands of girls and women being beaten, abused, treated like slaves, raped, burned, killed and told they cannot have the lives theirs brothers and husbands have simply because they are women.
And it is happening in the cities too. Not just among the illiterate, rural sections of society. We’ve all seen different forms of it. Sometimes, it is so subtle you have to look behind the veil of ‘traditions’ and ‘norms of society.’
If we want our girls to become the Laxmis of our homes, then we must first encourage them to become Saraswatis, Durgas and Sitas. Saraswati walked alone in her pursuit of learning, Durga stood alone and fought the demons by virtue of her own strength. And even though Sita was rescued by her husband, she knew when he had crossed the line. Even he, a god no less, had no right to question her chastity. She was no one’s property.
Perhaps today we must take a moment to remember what Shakti really means. And how best we can honour her.
Wishing you a very happy Dussehra and The Day of the Girl.