Goddess for Nine Days

People walk bare feet on concrete roads with garlands in their hands; bells, flowers, red clothes (chunnies) in plates and prayers on their lips, all for goddesses. All this is a common sight during the Navratri or Durga pooja. It is followed by “Ram Navmi’ which signifies the victory of good over evil. The destroyer of evil is Goddess Durga and it is popularly said that every woman has an essence of Maa Durga. Does she?

Your prayers would remain unanswered if you would not worship nine girls on Ram Navmi. People go mad in search of these nine girls. They walk to orphanages, schools, slums, neighbour’s homes to search for these girls. But the simple ritual of worshipping nine girls has become a tough task. Why? Where would you find those nine girls? You look for them on the streets and even a beggar girl you passed by on the street just a day before, becomes goddess for the next fifteen minutes of worship. And once you have found nine, the rest of them lose their importance right away.

These nine girls are even searched by those couples who just aborted one in the desire of a boy. The Doctors who determine the sex of the baby in their clinics before sympathizing with the disappointed parents too, search for these nine girls. The people who never allow their girls to go out of their homes, or talk to a stranger also search those nine girls, hoping that the fact that they are a stranger won’t matter since it is Ramnavmi.

Navratri is celebrated two times in a year, in March- April and in September- October. So the suppressed, aborted, second citizen becomes goddess for eighteen days in total. Navratri reminds our society of a fact that was thrown around by a popular song back in the 90s that “God is a woman”.

People largely believe that their Navratri Pooja would become successful only if they manage to worship nine girls but life would become successful only if you would have a baby boy. A man sent a message in the colony’s WhatsApp group “Nine girls, guys, nine girls urgently before pooja Murat”. The same man beat his wife for giving birth to a girl child.  Colony’s people went to congratulate him for his new-born but he took the congratulation as a jibe.

So, the man is a worshipper of women for nine days, twice in a year. Technically we celebrate the existence of women for eighteen days per year. The fact that the whole world exists because of her makes no difference. The bells, the flowers, the Diya and the pooja plate won’t really impress Goddess Durga till we stop killing her own entities – the girls and the women of this world. Every time you lamp a diya in front of Maa Durga, think about the girl you have seen being harassed publicly or at your own homes. Encourage your boys to treat your girls as a human at least, if not like goddesses this Navratri.

The article is written by Renu Kotwal, a student of Central University