Navratri is one of the most revered and celebrated Hindu festival devoted to Goddess Durga. The nine day fast ends with Ashtami/Navami Puja when 9 Kanya or Kanjak are prayed as avatars of Goddess Durga. It is a custom to wash the feet of these nine young girls, offer them clothes/gifts and feed with delicious channa, puri and halwa. One of my vivid childhood memory is of Navratri, when on the last day I would get ready to be a Kanjak and feel like a celebrity. I never clearly understood it’s significance then. At that time being a Kanjak was all about being pampered. But my perception changed when I kept the 9 day fast (which I should tell you is a tough thing to do) and hosted my Kanjaks. The feeling of feeding nine young girls and seeing their happiness can’t be articulated using mere words. Amidst the fast and celebrations, you can feel immense faith taking over your mind and filling you with positivity.
Kanya Puja fills your heart with satisfaction and hope. Hope of a brighter future when women are not just celebrated on certain occasions but everyday. Hope of the day when social fabric is rewoven with respect and regard for both genders equally.
This was taken last year during Kanya Puja. I wish these girls grow up to be mindful and learn to stand for themselves, have firm beliefs and understand the essence of this lovely world and know the meaning of true beauty.