Over the past nine days, most of India celebrated Navaratri with devotion and fervour. During Navaratri, Shakthi/Devi is worshiped in nine different forms. While the rituals vary depending on the regions, the essence remains the same - worship of the Sacred feminine. Similarly over the course of the calendar year, there are rituals devoted to worship of rivers and seas and even Mother Earth.This is true of not just India but of the world. Across most cultures, the feminine is worshiped either as the Mother Nature or as the Holy Mother or as the Goddess of knowledge/art/love. She is the bearer of life. But this adulation is sadly restricted to the divine world. The human world seems to narrate a different story.
There is a "International Women's day" that is now famously celebrated all over the world on March 8th. Why, there is even a "International Day of the Girl Child " that is in place from this year. Henceforth October 11th has been earmarked for the same. Ironically its very first celebration had the Taliban attack on Malala Yousafzai, an advocate of girls' right to education as a backdrop. Each day, we hear/read news reports about atrocities against women. For every act of violence reported, there are many that are buried deep in the society out of fear or shame or ignorance. Even our reaction to these sort of happenings is scarily muted. For most part, such news has become commonplace, it is almost as if we have become immune to it. While our ancestors had a noble intention of respecting all objects whether animate or inanimate, somewhere down the line the central thought behind the worship seems to have gotten lost behind the rituals and the hype and hoopla. The domestic violence, female-foeticide/infanticide, dowry harassment, discrimination at many levels that hampers her education, health and her very existence by pinning her down each time she tries to stand up to her tormentors are the demons that need to be vanquished.
While policies by governments and initiatives by various social and corporate organizations are a step in the right direction, a modified mindset of the masses is what will take this movement to the next level. It is not that the woman is weak and needs to be always protected and safeguarded. It is just that the world, not just men, even the women themselves should learn to respect themselves. In this world of give and take, one must give respect and take respect, do your duty and then enjoy your rights. It does not matter if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, young or old; what matters is standing up for the right thing. While it is a sin to hurt someone, it is a greater sin to bear the hurt silently. Women need to raise their voices against any form of injustice. For the victory of the good over evil, a battle must be fought always. I like to believe we are fighting that battle and one must never give up fighting for the right thing. One must always remember that the night is darkest just before dawn.
It is not about who is greater - man or woman? It is about what is right for mankind, the justice, the equilibrium. I hope the day is not far when the feminine will be celebrated in her true spirit. That would be the celebration of humanity and divinity combined.
All pictures are from Google images