This week we’re celebrating one of my favourite festivals: Navaratri.
More specifically, autumn Navaratri. The name comes from the Sanskrit words for nine (nava) and night (ratri), and over the nine-night, ten-day festival, we celebrate the Goddess Durga and her nine avatars.
Legend has it that Mahishasura, one of Lord Brahma’s devotees, was offered a wish by the Deva. He asked that he should never be killed by man or animal, and Lord Brahma agreed to the wish. Mahishasura grew mad with power and attacked Trilok (the worlds of Heaven, Hell and Earth). Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, unable to defeat the demon, combined their powers and created the Goddess Durga – the mother-goddess, the power that runs through the entire universe. For fifteen days, Mahishasura kept changing his form to mislead Durga Ma, and the battle waged on until she finally killed him in the form of a buffalo.
Navaratri is a time where we celebrate not only the Mahadevi, but women in all their glory, and every year I use it as an opportunity to show my appreciation for the women in my life. I always worry that I’ll miss someone, so I find this a difficult task. I know how difficult it can be to show up for people – you could be going through something heavy yourself; life could have simply gotten in the way – but the people you care for are still in your thoughts and, because of this, I never want to leave anyone out.
The pandemic, however, has made a small handful of people shine brighter than ever.
No matter what’s going on in their own lives, no matter how much anxiety they have over the pandemic or the consequences of other people’s actions, no matter how busy they are or how furiously they’re paddling beneath the surface to stay afloat, these women have been there whenever I needed them, right from last Navaratri when I had a chest infection and was curled up in bed watching horror movies and Brassic on loop to today.
So, in no particular order, this Navaratri, I want to celebrate:
- My Court – Hannah, Roxana and Darya. Nothing can beat what I said to you last year: thank you for being the friends that I needed, the friends that I wanted, and the friends I never thought I deserved. I love you guys beyond the moon in every solar system out there.
- My British beauties who escaped – Devon and Krishna. Whether it was exploring the world with you via WhatsApp, discussing the calories of alcohol and laughing at language translations, or movie night via Facetime, neither of you have ever let me feel alone or forget how much I’m loved, even though you don’t live here anymore.
- My adopted family over in Michigan – Elizabeth and Mary. I’ve lost the amount of times you’ve sent a message at precisely the right moment, making me cry this year. I can’t imagine life without either of you, and I don’t want to. You make the sun shine when it’s night. You’re the most non-non-non-non-non-heinous Americans in the world.
- My sisters – Sarawjeet, Arminder and Ranjit. I didn’t realise how much I needed Sihat’s Assemble until it happened. I didn’t realise how close you could become until A-Ha was on a constant loop. I love you guys more than I love Bill and Ted, and you know that’s saying something.
- And Mama. Words really aren’t necessary, are they?
There’s a quote that makes the rounds on social media every once in a while.
Until my more recent years, my experience has been the exact opposite: women too busy tearing each other down. Now I’m in my late twenties, that’s changed, and I genuinely feel so grateful to have such incredible women in my life. Strong, courageous women who are kind-hearted and spirited, independent and beautiful, inside and out. They challenge me, inspire me, comfort me.
I’m thinking of:
- Five aunts (one who is no longer with us, but I still feel her with me, and one who I’m sure is reading this);
- Two blood-related cousins who are more like sisters;
- Five sisters who aren’t blood-related to me but damn well act like it;
- Two nieces who inspire me and make me laugh;
- A sister-in-law who made me smile once and I’m still smiling because of it;
- One badass client who looks after me even though she doesn’t have to;
- Four explorer buddies who come back like boomerangs every year or two and pick up where they left off;
- One family friend who had disappeared for a while but came back full force;
- Countless writers who stop me from giving it up and becoming an accountant; and
- A handful of friends, some new, some old, but all amazing.
I’ve found my tribe – or my Pride, as I like to call them, because they truly are lionesses – and I’ve found the women who have my back. And it’s all of those women who I celebrate this Navaratri.
So, to everyone out there today, whether you celebrate or not, I ask you to spread the love, shine some light and remind those beautiful Goddesses in your life that you are grateful. We wouldn’t be where we are today if not for them. Cherish it.
And Happy Navaratri!