About Navratra Kanyapujan
An Indian Tradition to worship young girls
- In ancient Indian mythology, in every six month 8th and 9th day of Navratri festival is celebrated as Ashtami and Navmi, where several Indian families welcome nine young girls into the house by first washing their feet and tying moli (red thread) around their wrists.
- These girls are then worshipped.
- These nine girls are then seated and offered a variety of delicacies.
- These 9 girls represent nine different versions of Goddess Durga: Sailaputri, Brahmacharini, Andraghanta, Kusamanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalarati, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri.
Why are these 9 girls considered as 9 different forms of Devi Durga
- As per Hindu mythology, Devi Durga in her incarnated form as a little girl had saved the earth by killing the despotic demon, Kalasura who had distressed the earth.
- Hence, during navratra 9 girls are worshipped as 9 different forms of Devi Durga, so that, the blessings of Devi Durga are maintained to keep the earth protected.
Big Questions on the face of this tradition???
- Why do we facilitate those little nine girls for just one day?
- Why do we offer materialistic gifts to them?
- Why do we feed them just one meal?
- Why celebrate Navatri for just 9 days?
And Why Not?
- WHY NOT pledge to socially adopt 9 underprivileged girls for 9 years to build a concern for their health, education and well-being by catering to the traditional beliefs & rituals of Navratra Kanya Pujan Festival.
ACHIEVING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS 3,4 AND 5 THROUGH A SPIRITUAL AND RELIGIOUS LENS
- The project KanyaPujan caters to SDG 3,4 and 5, i.e, health, education and gender equality respectively.
- People here are predominantly religious and highly spiritual, they are constructs that are firmly rooted in the minds of the Indian people. So, these goals can be done in Indian society taking the routes of religion and spirituality as it will triggers the inner consciousness of Indian people.
- There is a great deal of virtue spoken in Hinduism which will help to demolish the hypocrisies of patriarchy and promote women empowerment.
- It is certainly an important and positive approach to address religious beliefs for behavioral changes in terms of women empowerment.
- Therefore, congruence with religion and spirituality would be quite impactful if the goals need to be realized at a grass-root level in India.
- This innovative idea is the backbone of the KanyaPujan.
Key statistics portraying some facts:
- Gender Inequality
- Health and Wellbeing
- Out of the world’s 774 million illiterate adults, 2/3 are women.
- Among the world’s 123 million illiterate youth, 76 million are female.
- According to global statistics, just 39% of rural girls attend secondary school.
- For urban areas it is 59%
- In India, Literacy for females stands at 65.46%
- Out of the world’s 774 million illiterate adults, 1/3 are men.
- Among the world’s 123 million illiterate youth, only 47 million are male.
- According to global statistics, just 45% of rural girls attend secondary school.
- For urban areas it is 60%
- In India, Literacy for males stands at 82.14%
- Gender inequality is a major reason behind hunger and poverty for women.
- It is estimated that 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women and girls
- In 18 countries, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working.
- In 39 countries, daughters and sons do not have equal inheritance rights.
- 49 countries lack laws protecting women from domestic violence.
- One in five women and girls, including 19 per cent of women and girls aged 15 to 49, have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner within the last 12 months. Yet, 49 countries have no laws that specifically protect women from such violence.
3. Health and Wellbeing
- Only half of women in developing regions receive the recommended amount of health care they need.
- Only 36% of women use Sanitary Pads in India.
- Globally, adolescent girls and young women face gender-based inequalities, exclusion, discrimination and violence, which put them at increased risk of acquiring HIV, which is the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age worldwide.
- Only 52 per cent of women married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care.
A Secular Perspective
- Women empowerment is not just restricted to Hinduism, it unfolds in other religions as well.
- In every religion’s holy scriptures, there are full of versuswhich advocate gender equality and the right to education for all, especially girls.
- Every religion talks about independence and equal privileges of women which is quite opposite if the real life scenario.
- In the holy scriptures of Sikhism, Guru Nanak spoke out against the long-lasting subjugation of women and also questioned the oppression against women.
- Guru Nanak openly chides those who attribute pollution to women because of menstruation and asserts that pollution lies in the hearts and minds of people and not in the cosmic process of birth.
A Blend Of Religion and Empowerment
- Today, whether we like it or not, the demon Kalasura has returned in the form of female feticide, lack of education, poor health conditions, exploitation, social victimization and many types of other atrocities against unprivileged girls.
- Ladli Foundation Trust’s idea here is to work towards a constructive tomorrow by promoting UN Sustainable goals 3,4&5 for girls through religious patterns which are deeply rooted in our society.
In the Ladli way
- Navratri is celebrated differently in India’s various regions.
- In this ritual, nine young girls are dressed as the nine goddess aspects celebrated during Navratri and are worshiped with ritual foot washing and given offerings such as food.
- Ladli came up with #LaadliKanyaPujan, where we urge each family to modify their version of Navarati Kanya Pujan
- Instead of feeding/worshiping the little girls; givethem a gift of education, wellbeing and gender equality.
- The Ladli Foundation, through #LaldiKanyaPujab urges:
- 9 families/individuals to come forward and,
- Pledge to take care of 9 girls,
- For 9 years
- To build a concern for their health, education and well-being by catering to the traditional beliefs & rituals of Navratra Kanya Pujan Festival.
- Ladli Foundation Trust has designed this innovative event which aims at building up an empire for females in the society which enables them to be healthy, prosperous and self-dependent. The idea here is to work towards a constructive tomorrow through patterns which are deeply rooted in our society.
A Glimpse From the Past
- Kanya Pujan Mega Initiative, taken by Ladli Foundation Trust was celebrated in 47 Cities across India in a day and benefited 3287 adolescent girls.
- The main focus of this event was to instill in the idea within every person, to socially support 9 girls for minimum 9 years in a way that every time they come for celebration of Kanya Pujan in Navratras one develops a concern to take care of their health, education and well-being and protecting them from the evil practices prevailing in the society.
- The girls were provided with education material & personal hygiene kits along with primary health checkup.
- A Revolutionary Mega event celebrated in 50 cities across India & 10 cities in abroad. By catering to traditional belief for constructive works to Promote Girls Education Gender Equality.
- It involved lakhs of families in innovative way of upholding daughters dignity and integrity and making each individual realize that they are special and hold the future of our nation.
- A Unique Concept to encourage individuals to take responsibility of girls well- being by performing traditional ritual in Navratras.
- This initiative was launched in the presence of internationally recognized spiritual leader Saint Swami Avdheshanand Giri Ji.
- The Main event held on 10th august 2019 at Markandey hall, New Delhi.
A Way Into The Future
Let’s see what can be done in the Future
- Engaging with the wider community, including opening dialogues with religious leaders from different faiths and encouraging them to advocate projects in their communities which focus on women empowerment.
- Keeping in mind the women centric approach of Indian culture and tradition
- It is important to discourage the outdated patriarchal practices that fool girls into believing that they are not worthy of the same reverence bestowed on a goddess