MAHALAYA- AN EXPRESSION OF PRIDE IN EVERY WOMAN
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु शक्ति-रूपेण संस्थिता।नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः॥जो देवी सब प्राणियों में शक्ति रूप में स्थित हैं, उनको नमस्कार, नमस्कार, बारंबार नमस्कार है।
Mahalaya is observed seven days before Durga Pooja. It marks the end of Shard of Pitra Paksh and beginning of another popular festival, Durga Puja. Durga means a fort a place that is difficult to overrun.
On the day of Mahalaya, she is believed to descend to her maternal home on Earth from Mt. Kailash with Lord Ganesh and Goddess Laxmi to the right, and GoddessSarasvati and Lord Karthik to her left. It is a majestic manifestation of restoration process of Creation from terrible and atrocious Asuras to restore Dharma.
When devatas were frustrated by the atrocities of Mahishasur, they approached to solve the problem, when they projected their energy into that of a woman. Drawing from collaborative strength of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, the trident is personified as a female figure with ten hands, Goddess Durga, and three eyes, representing Agni, Surya and Chandra.She evoked emotions of love and manipulated Mahishasura (meaning buffalo head) into succumbing to her demandsbecause he was offered the boon from Brahma that no man would ever be potent enough to overpower him.The trident is pierced into his head, bleeding to the death and thus, the vadh. The story is an anecdote of quintessential victory of devotion over arrogance and dharma over adharma.
As a testament of holistic strength of physical fitness and psychological resolve, Goddess Durga stands in Abhay mudra, fearless on a lion, in a fearless position assuring freedom from fears.This embodiment of sublime, powerful and energetic prowess that is equal parts creator and destroyer is reflected in her representation of carrying sword in one hand, and a lotus in the other.Also known as Mahishasur mardaani, she killed the demon who took various forms.
Thus, known as Mahamayi, she is the mother of universe who ensures creation, preservation and destruction of evil forces in the universe. The flagbearer of love, devotion and stability showers blessings on everyone while delivering a worthwhile lesson of fearlessness by having tamed a lion, as mastery of will, determination and power. The bow and arrow signify energy-potential and kinetic. The sword with its glory is demonstrative of removal of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
To welcome her every year is an inaugural of a parade of culture and tradition. Largely elaborate idols are set up in homes and pandals. Commemorated with ritual and art, revealing treasure of philosophical and mythological knowledge. Savoring the festivity, positivity and warmth of it, it transforms us for self realization with a beauteous countenance of dharma, remembrance, humility and sacrifice.
Her beautification or “shringaar”, (shri denotes Goddess of wealth, beauty, luck and prosperity) is a much-valued prayer ritual in Hindu tradition and is followed with humble reverence. To retain the charm of devotion and austerity and honor. The sociocultural fervorreiterates the 16 shringaar, comprising of traditional make up, jewelry, floral embellishments and painting of Goddess Durga in appreciation of her strange dichotomy and holistic strength.
It is also celebrated by every woman in the Indian community as she believes Goddess Durga resides in her as well. Corresponding to the 16 phases of the moon that have a repression on the women’s menstrual cycle, the 16 shringaar ritual is known to nullify its effect, for its association with the color red.
Commemorating with a ritualistic bath by oiling the hair with a mix of herbs as Brahmi, Amla, Shikakai, Aloe Vera and Bhringraj and a generous ubtan of turmeric, sandalwood and milk is applied on the body to reveal radiant and aromatic skin. Refreshing and vital as air, lustrous and consuming as fire, generous and abundant as space, free and flowing as the water, and far and wide as the Earth! Playing into the broader sense of beauty, here is what the 16 shringar encompasses to fortify the body in synergy with the energy and humankind:
- Bindi: As an ornamental dot placed between the eyebrows, it is regarded as aharbinger of fortune and prosperity for the woman and her husband. It is also representative of thethird eye, capable of envisioning the future.
- Sindoor: As a symbol of suhaag, or marital connection, it is considered pious to sustain the eternal relation between a husband and wife. It is applied on the central parting of the hair. Usually a red colored powder namedKumkum is used as sindoor in Indian traditions.
- Maang Teeka: Apart from adding beauty and charm in the form of an adornment, this is signified by its placement on the Agya Chakra of the body, and a holy union of mental, emotional and physical togetherness. It is applied to the parting of the hair with a chain attached to the hair.
- Kajal: It accentuates the shape of the eye and secures the woman from ill omens. It can be traditionally prepared from the soot of diya, lit with a wick burnt in clarified butter.
- Nath: It is worn or clipped on the left nostril and has an underlying belief that it helps reduce the woman’s tribulation during childbirth. Essentially, most Hindu communities observe the piercing of nose as a ritual before the wedding of a girl. It is also known to prevent the girl from getting hypnotized due to the belief of controlling brain wavelengths
- Karn Phool: Glorifying the ears in splendid shapes and sizes, the earrings accentuate the look of the wearer. Unanimously it has evolved as a great fashion accessory for the modern woman as well. It is also regarded to activate the spiritual impulse when the ear lobes are pierced.
- Haar: Embellishments of gold, silver, diamonds, gemstones and kundan are termed as Haar. Worn around the neck, the most common haar is a Mangalsutra, made of black and gold beads and gifted by the husband during the wedding ceremony.
- Mehendi: this painting ritual of decoration of hands and feet is linked to fertility and prosperity. The deeper the hue, the more love the women is believed to be bestowed with from the husband.
- Bajuband: It is worn on the upper hand to offer a slendering effect to the arms. It is known to fight away evil spirits.
- Bangles: bangles are known to increase the blood circulation and revert back the cosmic energy that passes through the body due to circular shape.
- Aarsi and Haathphool: Haathphool comprises of four or five rings worn on the arm fingers with chain attaching them to the bracelet. The medallion is encrusted with stones at the back of the hand. Aarsi is a thumb ring that the bride wears. It is mirror embedded and allows the bride and the groom to see the reflection of each other, as the customary bridal silhouette veils the bride’s face.
- Kamarband: Worn to secure the saree and accentuate the shape of the waist. It also helps them control putting on weight around the waist.
- Payal: It is worn around the ankles, and allures with its pleasant soundas the person walks. Apart from the aesthetic and beautification of gems and stones in chains of silver, the sound is also revered to welcome Goddess Laxmi in the house.
- Bicchua: worn on the second toe of the left feet, it is said to enhance the fertility in women and is made of silver. They are supposed to regularize the woman’s menstrual cycle. Apparently, the nerves of this toe are connected to the uterus and the friction helps revitalize the reproductive organ.
- Fragrance: It keeps the woman fragrant with its positive and pleasant aura. It keeps the atmosphere pleasant and alluring, rejuvenating the mind with positive thoughts and energy.
- Keshapasharachana: The hair bun is adorned with fresh, fragrant flowers along with other hair adornments. Generally white jasmine and bel are preferred flowers, but marigold and roses are also used, forming an integral part of the woman’s makeover.
Given that shringar is interwoven in the art, the solah shringar is fashioned into a tradition that runs deep spiritually as well, conveying a deeper meaning with each of its edifice. Seeds represent growth and fertility, flowers represent perfection in natural state, yantras invoke magical powers and protection. Creatures and elements of universe represent the power of nature. Combined with metals, they are powerful instruments to combat the unknown. Enshrined in all forms,beautyis divine, ethereal and a delight to behold that manifests itself in our religious practices and indigenous lifestyle.