By Saumya Arya Haas
Fall is here, and October seems to be the month for women.
It is Domestic Violence Awareness month and National Breast Cancer Awareness month. While these issues do not exclusively affect women, they are mostly oriented towards women. This month there is no shortage of events promoting women’s issues. There are talks and walks. But there is another, less publicized, woman-centered event happening around the United States this October: the Hindu festival of Navratri: nine consecutive nights dedicated to Devi, the Goddess. To Shakti, the feminine principle of strength. And Hindu American Seva Charities is initiating ShaktiSeva for woman to bring to the forefront the energy, to express their Shakti, within oneself.
What is Shakti?
You already know.
Beyond any definition I can give you, is the true meaning of Shakti that each woman holds. When you look within for inspiration, solace, guidance, it is Shakti that gives answer and Shakti that acts through you. It is the wisdom of your great-great-great-grandmother, encoded in your bones, the wisdom of the all-Mother that rises through each of us. Shakti does not only exist in women, but it is through women that it flows. It is our essential foundation, and it is that which goads us to change.
Shakti is not chosen, and we cannot control it. It the flood, the rush of endorphins, the giddy laugh, the flash of insight, the swirl of energy through the cosmos. We ride it like a wave. Sometimes it washes over us and knocks us off our feet. It is the effervesce of life.
Shakti is a Sanskrit word, but Shakti is beyond religion, race or nation. While the Hindu calendar recognizes Navratri, we are Hindus living the wheel of America’s seasons. In Euro-American folk and Pagan traditions, these seasons are significant: Autumn is the time to enjoy the harvest, to prepare for the quiet wild of winter. As we enter autumn, the air grows crisp, the days grow brief, and we grow introspective. As the days darken, the leaves brighten. We see the colors of the Goddess: gold, orange, red. As Hindu Americans light flickering oil lamps to each aspect of the Goddess, the season blazes a tribute.
This month of October, this season of autumn and Navratri, Hindu American Seva Charities is encouraging women to take the time to find, explore and express Shakti. You don’t have to be Hindu to take part in ShaktiSeva service to the feminine principle, whatever that means to you. Talk the talk. Walk the walk. Reach out. Create. Heal. Celebrate in a way that is meaningful to you. Nine nights in a row, observe a ritual: it may be traditional, invented or a combination of the two. Call a friend. Light a candle. Help someone…or, ask for help.
Just as you already know what Shakti is, you know, deep inside, who you are.
This autumn, tend the light that glows within.
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