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The Significance of the Hindu Festival of Navaratri

No other religion or way of life in the world assigns as major a role to harnessing the power of the female in the regulation of the home and society as Hinduism does. Navaratri and Dussehera is a way of God Sri Krishna telling Hindus to be respectful to women and to allow them the lattitude to make decisions about our joint human lives to sustain society. This is because in comparison with males women are biologically more active, know quicker what is to be done, and have the mental and physical energy and power (Shakti) to act positively in bringing about the good that is needed for the welfare of the family and society.

The idea that the female component of the human species should be allowed to have a major role in the home and in society is clarified and engendered through the kundalini (Shakti) cosmic energy idea which tells us that even men can tap into the same feminine cosmic energy by the worship of Devi to obtain the spiritual guidance needed to destroy the evil that they face in their day to day lives and that which society faces. The countering of evil is very important aspect of living for which one needs the divine protection of Devi and this is attained through the practice of a special form of yoga. That Shakti as an aspect of God destroys evil is depicted by Durga and Kali being shown in idols and images as fierce goddesses.

To be a Hindu is to appreciate the significance of Navaratri in this light. It is central to how Hindu people have evolved and expanded over the centuries. Shakti is an ancient Hindu idea that society took seriously enough to give it a special position in the calendar year through the celebration of Navaratri.

I asked my sister Mrs Meera Panigrahi: Is not the story of Draupadi in the Mahabharatta consistent with this interpretation of a central message of Hinduism? Her reply was:

Draupadi and Lord Krishna shared a very special relationship. As is known to admirers of the great epic poem Mahabharata, Draupadi always considered Lord Krishna as her Sakha or beloved friend and Krishna addressed her as Sakhi, this as symbolic of the platonic love existing between the fiery Draupadi and the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Krishna. Draupadi is the instrument of Lord Krishna. Using her, he realized his mega-plan of annihilating the evil Kauravas. The choice of Draupadi as the instrument, which caused his actions, explains the special place she had in his scheme of things, Draupadi was put through severe tests in her life. The only true friend, who validated her persona and came to her rescue each time she found herself in dire circumstances, was Krishna, whose divine presence she experienced constantly in her life.

6 July 2014 Update: The importance that I have stressed in this blog on womens role in society in Hinduism is consistent with what Dr Satvik Patel (@DrSatvikPatel) has tweeted today on ‘Women in Vedas’; taken it seems from

Women should be valiant (Yajur Veda 10.03) Women should earn fame (Atharva Veda 14.1.20) Women should be scholars (Atharva Veda 11.5.18) Women should be illuminating (Atharva Veda 14.2.74) Women should be prosperous and wealthy (Atharva Veda 7.47.2) Women should be intelligent and knowledgeable (Atharva Veda 7.47.1) Women should take part in legislative chambers (Atharva Veda 7.38.4) Women should be given the lead stage for ruling nation (RV 10.85.46) Women should be given the lead stage in society works (RV 10.85.46) Women should be given the lead stage in governmental organisations (RV 10.85.46) Women should have the same right as son over fathers property (RV 3.31.1) Women should be protector of family and society (Atharva Veda 14.1.20) Women should be provider of wealth and food (Atharva Veda 11.1.17) Women should be provider of prosperity (Atharva Veda 11.1.17) Women should ride on chariots (Atharva Veda 9.92) Women should participate in war (Yajur Veda 16.44)

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