Eleven Little Goddesses

Nav Durga girls 11

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…

bangle shop in India

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?

Bangles flowers bindi

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!divyaThis 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!

haldi kumkum thali navdurga DurgaThe 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. dinner plates waiting for dinner

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. 

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Indian little girls flowers

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34 thoughts on “Eleven Little Goddesses

  1. My mother also do the same thing during Navratri twice in an year during Chait (March/April) and Ashwin month (September/October). Almost same to same.

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  2. @Lauren

    a similar festival is celebrated during the eight and ninth day of Navaratris. It is called “Kanchak” in north india. five to seven girls and one boy are served halwa, choles, coconut pieces and banans. They are given money also. The rest of the event is very similar. on this day the girls are in great demand. people who organize this festival look out for girls and whisk them away before someone else can approach them. kind of like competition between households. for children it is great fun and they also earn money. but as soon as girls attain puberty they become ineligible for this event. i remember accompanying my sister during childhood.

    i don’t know navaratras are far off, must be something particular to marathis. btw good to hear from u after a long time.

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    • Oh wow, I can imagine!!

      I am not sure why we celebrated this when we did, my in-laws had just returned from the Himalayas and my mother-in-law suggested we do this and of course I was very eager to do such a lovely thing!

      I hope you are well! 😀

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  3. This is a lovely festival! I remember my daughter being invited to our neighbours house to be one of the goddesses and we were very honoured! She was very small and had no idea what was going on (enjoyed the sweets though!) but I look forward to teaching her all about the goddess as she grows older.

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  4. What a beautiful post, Lauren, I would gladly take part in a ceremony like this too. Attitude towards having a girl child really changes, though, as you said, there is really a long way to go. When my son was born, people were saying: “Now you’re family is complete”. As if witht my two daughters it wasn’t 🙂

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  5. Very lovely tradition!

    As for the attitude towards having a daughter in the family, this really will go into history as you mentioned. My parents in law whom I happy to call papa and mama, for example, have always wanted to have a daughter, but they have 3(!) sons. They both are very educated and respected people, they brought up three intelligent and handsome kids, but they lack the experience of having a daughter who is more expressive and affectionate when it comes to showing love and care towards parents. That’s why they were looking forward to their sons to get married asap.

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  6. I feel proud to see you adopting and cherishing these traditions and understanding the exact meaning of these rituals. Feel proud to get you as a sister. Bravo! to Abhiram’s choice!

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  7. Wow this is one of the coolest traditions I have ever heard about, it really is a sad paradox. As a mother of a girl child who is half indian I have heard so many comments about how the next has to be a boy. Its great to see a celibration such as this!

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  8. First of all, I am glad you are back being part of the blogging community! Welcome dear Lauren :)) I hope you are doing great! What a lovely festival! You will always be remembered by nine little girls because this was something so special. Honestly, you did a great job! Luckily India is changing, even if it will take more time, girls become more important though. Lots of love from Germany, Maike xxx

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  9. Namaste Lauren-ji! What an amazing thing you did for these girls! The traditions are lovely and you opened your home to eleven young girls and created a tradition of you own.

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  10. I used to hate it when we were invited by neighbours for these kinds of traditions. Usually managed to squirm out of it…

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    • Hey Caroline,
      Our driver asked some of his friends and family if their daughters would like to be part of the ceremony, and then we went and picked them up and brought them to our home.
      I hope you are well 🙂

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