This article is about the festival Navratri that worships female as a source of energy serves as a foundation in functioning of this world
In a patriarchal society like India, rare are the times where the country celebrates the female energy. A lady is regarded as a manifestation of Shakti who is a combination of anger, power, mercy, courage, tolerance, and love. Navratri or the nine nights is celebrated in India. Different regions celebrate it in different ways. The first three days are dedicated to Godess Durga, the next three days for Godess Lakshmi and the last three days for Godess Saraswati. A women is Durga and seen as a form of power, courage, independence, valour, assertiveness, justice, morality and indignation. Every women is a Lakshmi when she is financially independent, when she makes her own choices, when she carves a niche for herself in the chosen field, and Saraswati when every girl child gets educated, gains knowledge in her field and is a personification of intelligence, wit, intellectuality and wisdom.
The Navratri signifies that the women is a combination of all three Godesses. Navratri also commemorates the mythological story of Mahishasura (the buffalo headed demon) being killed by Godess Durga who is the amalgamation of the powers of Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. The demon thought himself to be powerful and invincible that he cannot be destroyed by a women. It was the creating, preserving and the destroying deities that came to together to create Shakti, who is a woman. It was a nine day long battle between the Shakti and the demon and on the tenth day She slayed him and eventually came to be know as the Mahishasuramardhini ( the one who slayed Mahisha). In the today's world every Durga still battles with the modern day Mahishasura in the form of inequalities, gender stereotypes, domestic violence, vulnerabilities of the societies, multitasking at home and in the workplace, her struggle to get an education, career, to lead a successful marriage life and also to be a compassionate mother who is an epitome of grace, beauty and aesthetics, the list is endless and she manages it all! and is ready for more.
The Navratri is also celebrated as the day where Lord Ram killed the ten headed demon Ravan to rescue Sita who was kidnapped by the demon. Sita is considered as an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, eventhough she was vulnerable in the hands of Ravan, she was assertive and threatened Ravan that he would taste the fruit of his action. Even though she was an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi she never used her mystic powers to intimidate him. It was her will power and her assertiveness that created the fear in the demon. There is saying in that a women can both create and destroy things. It was Sita who paved way for the destruction of Ravan, but not for her there is no Ramayan. In modern days, it is the lady of the house who is the root cause for a broken family and at the same time she is the foundation for a happy and a complete family.
One more classic example is the great mythological event that took place in the epic Mahabharatha (i.e) disrobing of Draupati by the the kaurava prince and his allies in front of the royal court. The story goes like this that when Pandava prince Yudhishtra was defeated in the gamble against the Kauravas who in turn asked the latter to pledge his wife in the game. When the Pandava prince lost the game, his wife Draupati was dragged to the royal court by her hair and was forced to disrobe in front of everyone. Eventhough there were so many leaders, warriors, ministers, sages and wise men, nobody came to her rescue including her five husbands! When Dushassan, one of the kaurava prince, started disrobing her Draupati sought refuge in Lord Krishna and pleaded to save her. The Lord immediately came to her rescue and saved her dignity by sending bales and bales of cloth where Dushasan after a point was tired disrobing her and left it. After the incident, she burst out with anger and challenged the Kauravas that she would destroy each and every single one for treating her that way. She also made a vow that she will never braid her hair until the blood of Dushasan was applied in her hair. This led to the historical war of Mahabharatha in the land of Kurukshetra which saw the destruction of an entire clan. Again if not for Draupati, there is no Mahabharatha. Be it Ramayana, Mahabharatha or any historic event, be it building and empire or destruction of a clan. It is the women who would be the central point for it. Therefore it is the duty of the people around her to value her presence.
This is also for this reason why in India all the rivers, mountains, the five forces of nature are named after a women cause she can both nurture and destroy the place where she is. Probably this is the reason why a woman moves to her husband's place after marriage to nurture the place wherever she goes and builds a home and brings happiness to the family. This also shows the binary aspect of marriage.
Once Godess Parvathi asked Lord Shiva how it would be if she was him. Lord Shiva asked her to come closer and gave half of his body to her which turned out to be the abstruse form of Lord Shiva called as the Ardhanareeshwara- the amalgamated form of Lord Shiva and and Godess Parvathi. It is also a symbolic representation of the scientific fact that world and living beings are created with the union of the man and the women. Here mythology firmly establishes the fact that women is the origin for creation.
Let's come back to the modern world, we talk so much about feminism, women empowerment, equality and breaking the gender stereotypes. I have always had a question in my mind. Are these problems something which the women face only from the opposite sex? Or are these problems faced by women because of an other woman? The answer to both the question is partially yes! When do u think that a women will be respected by a man? A women will be respected by a man when she respects herself, when we as women are more generous, forgiving, magnanimous, forthcoming, and non-judgmental toward an other women. When we as a mother, daughter, mother in law, colleague, and a friend support each other and standby each other. When we as a women are intolerant against indignation, when we as a women do not back stab each other. When a women stands for herself, she stands up for all the other women. Therefore we should become the change that we want to see in this world. A women is a full circle within her is the power to nurture, transform and create. May we be that women and raise other women as well.