We held the sweetest little celebration a couple of months back, the cutest Hindu festival I’ve ever been involved with. The whole day was beautiful. It’s so important to celebrate the girl child and this festival does just that! The Goddess walks among us in many forms, we can see her in a mother’s love, a woman’s strength and a daughter’s smile. It is said that the Goddess Durga has nine forms (NavDurga) so we invited nine little girls to our home to celebrate and worship them as little Goddesses.
First stop, my favourite bangle shop…
My mother-in-law and I went out and bought tiny bangles, earrings, necklaces, bindis and flowers for their hair. I just couldn’t help but feel mushy about the delicate little bangles!! We also bought some mehendi cones, I decided I would give it a go, I thought it couldn’t be that difficult! Right?
Together, my mother-in-law and I, made them a lavish lunch, including some sweet fresh mango juice. We then waited for the nine little Goddesses to arrive. We waited and waited, but no Goddesses came through the door. Luckily, our driver was on the case and appeared with nine little girls, then another little girl came and another and nine became eleven!This is where my lack of Marathi hurts, I love talking to kids but all I could do was ask them their names and tell them they are beautiful (sundar). I applied mehendi to their small soft hands (which I was quite frankly rubbish at, I resorted to butterflies and hearts) as they giggled together. Wow, and these little girls were just so gorgeous, it’s been a long time since I was around so many children.
The ritual started with washing the Goddesses feet and applying turmeric (haldi) and vermillion (red powder) to their foreheads. We then adorned the little girls with flowers and jewellery. We were two sets down so had to share what we had as equally as possible, we should have followed the Indian law of jewellery, more is more!
The Goddesses were then served their lunch and everyone in the house touched their feet to receive their blessings. I really loved this ritual and I sincerely hope and pray that they are treated and respected like Goddesses for the rest of their lives. It’s a great paradox, the divine feminine is recognised and worshiped in temples but sometimes ignored and oppressed in homes and on the street.
Sadly, many people still see a daughter as a burden due to the dowry system and the fact that in some extremely traditional families, once a daughter goes to live with her husband’s family she will be unable to look after her own parents when they are elderly. I’ve heard too many stories of how disappointed families were at the birth of a girl child, but I sense and hope that this attitude will soon be history. There is a long road ahead. Whilst living in India I have looked at the statistics and heard the horror stories, but I have also witnessed the overwhelming love and happiness in a mother’s eyes as she looks down at her new daughter.