The eve before one of the most popular Hindu festivals of 2020. I can’t help but take time out for reflection. Navratri has always been a festival dear to my heart. Maybe it’s because of how much I adore and admire the Hindu Goddesses. Their symbolism, their power “shakti”, what they represent. The empowerment for women from within. The fight of good over evil.
Last year when I put my symbolic Garbo, (Hindu decorated pot used during worship in Navratri) away; would I have even thought when I unboxed it this year how much the world has changed?. Last year I moved back to Cheshire and was super excited to go back to Garbas in Manchester with my dearest friends, who I met at Garba and known for over 28 years. Looking at Navratri past we’d put on our brightly coloured Chaniya Choris and dance the night away. Since being a little girl I loved dressing up, and we would never miss a single day of the nine nights of celebration. Even after the late nights and the comfort and flame of the Aarti at the end of the night, we would still get up in the morning for school full or energy ready for the next night. Friendships were made love, laughter and happiness filled the air. We learned so much about the festival from stories of my beloved late grandfather and also my dearest mother. It was so magical and important to us… this was our religion, culture and those roots and rituals…. being passed onto the next generation.
As soon as it was dandiya time with my boys the ninja moves came out!!! But to be honest they were not far wrong. During the nine days of Navaratri with Garba and Dandiya it has its own meaning, and symbolism. The dance is a symbolic fight between the warrior goddess Durga, who was created by the “Trimurti”, Lord Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (preserver) and Shiva (destroyer). Durga, and her nine forms were created to destroy the evil demon Mahisasura who was creating imbalance in the world. She was bestowed with many weapons from the gods to help her with her battle.
If someone had told me a year ago, that what we all know and love as Garba would not be happening in 2020 visiting the temple and dancing the night away. I would have thought they are simply “bonkers”!!!!. In this Covid climate of the “new norm”; words such as lockdown, social distancing, and masks everywhere we look…..The festival must go on, and the Goddesses and Navratri should be celebrated.
Sometimes I wish that the spikey blob called Covid-19 could become a demon and the power of Durga would slay it, with her mighty and powerful trishul!.... If only.
This year with the Covid climate we have all had to make drastic changes in EVERYTHING we do. New ways of working, learning, socialising, playing and communicating. Thank god Facetime, Zoom and Teams!
As the Jai Jais we have been so excited to launch our books to children and families in North America: Canada and USA, and also Australia. It’s amazing how small the world can be with all this technology. It’s really been lovely how the Jai Jais is forming relations with other South Asian Authors, Brands, Artists, and illustrators. It is amazing to part if this global family, forming new friendships and learning from their journeys. It has been heart-warming to see how they have taken our beloved Jai Jais into their own home and hearts. The Jai Jais are even travelling to be part of a wonderful event in the Hamptons run by Corporate Diwali in New York city, with book readings in schools.
We are so excited to also have launched our new range of puzzles for Navratri and Diwali bring more of the Jai Jais into your home for your child to learn and most importantly enjoy.
We have been so blessed this year collaborating with The Young Lohana Society’s Virtual Garba and Sansar’s Virtual Navratri. The show definitely goes on and Covid will not stop us celebrating this wonderful festival with our children. There are some lovely books readings, virtual dances, mask making, Rangloi making, designing aarti’s. What a perfect way to celebrate Navratri safely and maintaining our culture and roots.
We have also been excited to collaborate with various artists and illustrators in North America. James time and times blows me away every time he puts his pencil to paper and this Navratri is no exception. He has created the most beautiful, symbolic and vivid images the nine form of Durga for each day of Navratri, and I have written a fact file, which we have shared with in UK, USA, Canada and Australia. We have made this into a short video. What a perfect way to educate our children and children of all diversities, the images are modern, engaging and totally capture the strength and power of Durga ma and her nine forms. We are so lucky to have Sagarbhai Shukla, Hindu priest who also supports us with relevant and factual information from the original scriptures, so that I can adapt this and make it relevant and understandable for children of this generation.
Come and celebrate Navratri 2020 with the Jai Jais and these amazing virtual platforms. The festival will go on and may Durga bless us with the same resilience, power and strength you have shown. May we continue the battle “good”, over “evil” in all we do.
Happy Navratri 2020 from The Jai Jais Team