Dussehra: Fighting my own Demons 30


On Friday, it was Dussehra. This festival marks the end of Navratri, it was time for Goddess Durga to be immersed and I was sad to see her go. Dussehra is also the day that Lord Rama defeated the demon Ravana, with the help of Goddess Durga herself. Here Nagpur, the festival has a third significance…

Dussehra also marks the day when Dr. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism, and it happened right here in Nagpur. Who was Dr. Ambedkar? Dr. Ambedkar was a Hindu born of “low caste”, even though he was a great freedom fighter (during the fight for independence from the British), still Brahmins didn’t let him in their temples because of his caste. This prejudice infuriated him, so he converted to Buddhism and it is estimated that three million low-caste Hindus followed him and converted too. These days temples in Nagpur are open to every caste, but sadly many people still hold prejudice against lower caste people.

So, during Dussehra thousands of Buddhists, who would otherwise be low-caste Hindus, come to Deekshaboomi in Nagpur for a pilgrimage, a sacred Buddhist monument designed by Dr. Ambedkar.. People come from miles around in the back of trucks, on foot, in buses and trains to visit the monument on this special day. When I first moved to Nagpur, the Dalai Lama came to visit Deekshaboomi, sadly I didn’t know anything about it until the next day, I would have loved to get a glimpse of him!

Nagpur Buddhism

Deekshabhoomi. Photo credit: My Hindi Heart (click here to read about Crystal’s Nagpur experience when she came to my wedding!)

Back at my house, we have several Dussehra traditions but I was not feeling good. On the day that Lord Rama killed his demon, I was fighting mine. Mine doesn’t have ten heads like Ravana. my demon is a black mist that falls like a blanket over everything, he’s called depression.

Depression can hit you when you least expect it, especially when he has visited so many times before (I guess he knows the way by now). I have had an absolutely fabulous couple of months. I have started to get involved with festivals, my volunteer work and my relationship with my mother-in-law has drastically improved. My anxiety disorder has practically gone as I have been facing my fears (India has a way of forcing you to do that!). My regular visits to my local Goddess Durga temple during the last couple of months has helped me connect with my spirituality and feel contentment.

During the day of Dussehra, there are flowers everywhere! Heaps and heaps of them, especially orange marigolds, my absolutely favourite. Nagpur; covered in flowers, parades taking Goddess Durga to be immersed, music and pilgrims. Things I love to see, but I felt a disconnect, as if I were seeing it all in black and white. The sudden onset of depression is scary, especially when you cannot account for it. The dull sadness which swallows up everything, which makes you just want to scream.

ravana

The Demon, Ravana! Picture credit: wikipedia

After Lord Rama defeated his demon, he went straight to a Goddess Durga temple to thank her for her guidance and strength. In the evening my husband and his father went to the Goddess Durga temple, just as Lord Rama did. My mother-in-law and I waited at home to welcome them when they returned, just as Lord Rama’s wife, Sita, did. My husband wore a traditional Marathi hat, which looked completely ridiculous on top of his curly hair, to receive my welcome. The small ceremony involved me putting turmeric, kumkum and rice on his forehead and a rotating a silver tray, carrying auspicious items and a flame, around him. Seeing his face and that ridiculous hat brought the day’s first genuine smile to my face.

Depression is an ugly and very misunderstood demon. This time though, depression was accompanied by a guest, someone he doesn’t usually associate himself with. Very small but as bright as the flame I greeted my husband with, Hope. I know that this will pass and I will be okay again soon. It’s just as if my happiness took a little holiday, leaving behind only a note saying ‘I will be back, had to take a break, I’ve been around far too much recently!’. I feel that slowly but surely, I will vanquish this demon completely, he is getting weaker each time we meet.

Now Navratri is over, Goddess Durga has returned to her heavenly abode but just like my happiness, she’ll be back again soon! Here are some photos I took during the nine nights of Navratri, Goddess Durga defeating her demon:

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About Lauren Mokasdar

Lauren fell in love on the internet, took a one way flight from England, got married & started a new life & bicultural family in India. She writes about finding happiness & balance between two very different worlds, when her baby takes a nap.


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30 thoughts on “Dussehra: Fighting my own Demons

  • RD

    ‘My husband wore a traditional Marathi hat, which looked completely ridiculous on top of his curly hair,…..’ ha ha ha he he he ho ho ho hey hey hey!!! I am a Marathi and I wear that cap too and I laugh at myself all the times when I look in the mirror. I can imagine a picture of your husband and I cannot stop laughing!! Did you give a try to that cap? You will look ‘awesome’ with that cap!! 😀

  • Nicola

    Just to let you know… on your website, if you click on Archives and then click August 2014, the posts for August 2013 come up instead.

  • stockdalewolfe

    As you well know, I know these demons well and hope you can chase yours away very soon!! You have adjusted to life in India so wonderfully. But depression does not take anything into account and arises like a Phoenix from the ashes. Being Bipolar I intellectually know a depression will pass into an up cycle but sometimes the depression is so severe that it appears permanent. May yours pass quickly. Extra love, namaste, Ellen

  • surya

    Depression is a part of our contemporary lives, as you said, it comes and goes, with everyone firming up with one’s own coping mechanism, depression gets pushed out each and everytime. In most cases that is a given.. Literally all humans and other larger sentient beings will go thru a depression trip every now and then, you are normal, cheer up.

  • Susan

    I hope it passes soon, Lauren. It’s something I deal with too often, too. What helps for me is to not give in to it. Go volunteer, even if you don’t think you can, and it might help. I find that going out helps a lot, especially when I have a nasty tension headache that can hang on for up yo 4 days. (((Hugs))), Susan

  • Anshuman

    Hi Lauren,

    Depression will not lead you to anywhere.
    It is just a habit that one has developed over the years.
    A feeling one wants to experience and feels one self very secured and safe in that environ.
    You can try not to be overwhelmed by any thought or feeling that may trigger it.
    Also talking to your demons help clear away any hollow fears.

  • Natalie

    Hi Lauren
    I’m sorry to hear that you are feeling low. I have struggled with depression since the age of 17, so I know exactly what you are going through. Hopefully the colour of India, your loving husband and that cute pug can help you through it. Sending much love, Natalie xxx

  • leggypeggy

    Depression is a black beast. Hope you are able to push it away and feel brighter and happier each day. Nice to know your husband’s amusing appearance brought a genuine smile to your face.

  • Priyahaf

    You have my sympathy, & best wishes so that hope & happiness return to you very soon.

    In mid Feb of this year, eveything for me halted when depression made an uninvited return. I felt like a hunted big cat in midst of a thunder storm. My recovery was gradual, & for me was brought along by counselling, & setting Durga’s image at my bedside to draw strength from.

    Your blog aided me too because its great pictures & fab words rolled away some of the grey clouds & took me into the sunshine of new & beautiful places. Thank you for helping me get better.

    With love, Priyahaf

  • friend

    @Lauren

    Life changes its colour every moment. Sometimes it is cool shade and sometimes it is harsh sunshine. Live life to its fullest, who knows what tomorrow has in store for you. I am sending you a rip roaring bollywood movie from 1970s. It is confusion created by mistaken identity. Amazing acting and beautiful songs. One of the most famous movies of that time. I hope you can understand hindi because the movie has proper hindi.

  • madhmama

    Brave post. Depression hits so many people yet (due to environment, stresses, everything!) but usually they rarely speak out about it. Thank you for sharing, and happy Dussehra 🙂

  • Hilary no tabi

    Great post! It’s interesting for me to hear about your experiences with depression. A close family member has struggled with it most of her life and I haven’t understood what she goes through. This post has given me a little window. On another note, I’m excited to hear how your voice recording is going! 🙂