By Chandan Wadhwa:
In a colossal country like ours which has blends of different cultures and castes, it leaves us with the daunting task to achieve concord among various diversities. Festivals and traditions serve as an indispensible tool to overcome this precipice. It is bridged by taking people from various communities on board and celebrate the festive occasions in the right spirit.
Navratri is one of the festivals which serve this purpose. There is a vivacious celebration of this festival particularly in North India and likewise there is a huge build up before its commencement. This entails worshiping of Goddess Durga, manifestation of deity in form of Shakti. It becomes a ten day festival with addition of the last day, Vijaydashmi which is its culmination.
The festival is a medium to worship the goddess of true sprit to imbibe her beneficence which is evident in our everyday life. These nine days are full of bliss and bring a sense of eternal joy as we are able to connect to the source when worshipped intently. Hence my family always waits avidly for this festival. I sometimes get bemused by their actions but then I tend to follow their footsteps because I neither want to offend the Goddess nor my family.
I consider myself fortunate to be a part of this gracious festival. I fast with my family members for the complete duration of the festival and we worship various forms of Goddess Durga with fervour and devotion. According to the tradition in the fast we are not supposed to eat wheat flour and on the contrary are allowed to eat buckwheat flour (kuttu ka atta) and water chestnut flour (singhare ka atta), moreover fruits and potatoes are also allowed in the fast. Hence I enjoy fasting because I am served with ravishing Navratri food by my mother which I truly relish.
On the ninth day we conduct a special religious ceremony in which we greet girls and feed them in the pursuit that every girl is a shadow of the Goddess. By this we officially mark the end of the festival but I personally believe that this notion is circumscribed and on the contrary it marks the beginning of the journey towards the divine source. His holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s lines- ‘’ Navratri is a time of self-referral & returning to the Source. During this time of transformation, nature gets rejuvenated; life emerges afresh’’ could not have been more apt to capture the true essence of Navratri.
Re-connect with your family this festive season. Go hunt down those stories - traditions, best kept secrets, recipes, family tales, wild jokes, moth-eaten priceless photos and more! Go talk to everyone at home about their Dussehra and see their eyes light up wistfully (grabbing pen, paper, or recording instrument is a good idea, these stories are precious and never retold in quite the same way!).
And write/blog/photograph/video about it. About your Dussehra story.