- The nine forms of Goddess Durga, which embody the divine feminine energy, known as shakti, are a tribute to the spirit of girl power.
Imagine the mesmerizing sight of dancers gracefully twirling and moving in endless circles, fanning their colorful and intricately patterned traditional clothing.
Imagine feeling the powerful vibrations of a dhol beating to the lyrical sounds of Gujarati folk music.
And imagine hearing the triumphant echoes of dandiyas snapping together.
Does your heart fill with joy?
Mine certainly does.
During this time of year, I am transported back to those cherished days when I celebrated Navratri with my family and friends as a young girl. I embraced the opportunity to dress in my traditional chania cholis, and I watched in awe as a simple high school gymnasium transformed into a vibrant canvas of sound, color, and art through the magic of Garba. My friends and I eagerly took on the challenge of mastering new Garba and Raas skills. A twelve-step dandiya routine? Of course. Add a few extra spins and intricate footwork to Garba? Absolutely! The more intricate our steps became the more exhilarating the experience. While I sensed the depth of Navratri’s significance back then, it is now, in my forties, that I truly comprehend the profound empowerment embedded within this festival.
Navratri is a nine-day celebration cherished by Hindus around the world. It pays homage to Goddess Durga, the embodiment of strength and courage, who triumphed over the malevolent demon king, Mahishasura. After nine days of fierce battle, Goddess Durga, riding her majestic lion, vanquished the demon king, affirming that goodness and righteousness will always conquer evil. The manner of celebrating Navratri may vary across the diverse regions of India, but in my home state of Gujarat, it is a jubilant celebration of dance. Regardless of one’s place of origin in India, each day of this festival venerates one of the nine forms of Goddess Durga, celebrating her divine feminine energy, known as Shakti, which heals and nurtures the universe. It is undeniably a tribute to the spirit of girl power.
As a young girl, the meaning of Navratri was beyond me, but now, I am more motivated than ever to ensure that the next generation grasps its significance. Collaborating with Chandana Rao of Tulsie, who is passionately dedicated to making cultural learning enjoyable and engaging, enables us to share the empowering message of Navratri with children in a manner that resonates with them. Through Tulsie’s Navratri Goddess Learning Cards, children can delve into the diverse forms of Goddess Durga through suggested games and activities. Furthermore, the book, “Shakti Girls,” serves as a beautiful reminder of the myriad ways one’s shakti, their inner power, can manifest – especially their unique power. With our limited-time bundle, children will be continually reminded that Shakti resides within them, enabling them to create a positive impact in this world.
As parents and caregivers partake in their Navratri festivities, they can consider utilizing the prompts below to initiate meaningful discussions on the significance of the holiday with their children:
- What does Navratri mean?
- Whom do we honor and celebrate during Navratri?
- Why do we celebrate Goddess Durga? What did she do?
- What is the meaning of Shakti?
- How do you see Shakti within yourself? How does it appear?
- How does Navratri serve as a celebration of girl power, and what does that mean to you?
- How can we celebrate and embody girl power every day?
Collectively, let’s ensure that the empowering legacy and meaning of Navratri is carried forward, inspiring and empowering the children of today to become the leaders, change-makers, and champions of tomorrow while embracing their authentic selves. Through the story of Goddess Durga and Navratri, let’s instill the values of courage, strength, and confidence in our girls as we create a more equal and empowered future.
As a second-generation Indian-American, born and raised in New York, Shetal Shah has always been passionate about empowering young girls and promoting diversity and inclusion in literature. After spending over a decade teaching middle and high school world studies at girls’ schools in New York City and Atlanta, she wrote “Shakti Girls,” a nonfiction children’s book that celebrates the lives and accomplishments of remarkable women from India. You can learn more at www.shetal-shah.com.