Every year, many Hindus celebrate a holiday dedicated to various forms of The Mother, and every year I love it. Mostly, in my personal practice, I simply focus my worship on my preferred face of the Mother as She currently lives on the earth – which is to say, in the form of Mata Amrtanandamayi Ma, also known as Amma, The Hugging Saint. She’s an avatar of Shri Durga, who goes by another name: Mahishasuramardini. Mahishasura was a “buffalo demon” who was practically invincible and after nearly every other feasible attempt at conquering this monster had proven unsuccessful, everyone besought The Divine Mother for help.
A quick study of the symbolism employed in Durga’s image will explain why She proved so capable. Superficially, She seems to carry some weapon from nearly all the other major gods, which to some will imply that She combines their powers. However, in truth She is the underlying power that makes any of the others possible. Because of this inherent truth, this holiday is one of my favorite sign posts of the Faith.
Coming from a divorced family, and having both a birth mother and a step-mother, I know the many faces of motherhood and the value that women and mothers hold to society and humanity. Sometimes a mother plays a fierce role – either to protect her offspring or to scare them from foolishness that might place them in harm’s way. Sometimes a mother has to play the role of security, and provide the grounding force in the lives of her offspring, giving them a place of origin to reference and reset their compass when they accidentally steer off course. And other times still, the mother has to provide support in the form of nurturing the offspring and thus help to facilitate much-needed healing.
For each of the days of Navratri, which Hindus are currently celebrating, a different face of the Mother is focused on and honored. Temples everywhere are having their own celebration programs – my own local temple has programs put on each night by people from a different parts of India, all focusing on the particular face of Mother for that evening. At the end of the holiday, we’ll be holding a Durga Visarjan.
In my home, I don’t celebrate the Mother’s different faces each respective day, at least not like I would if I were to adhere to tradition. I simply honor the face of Mother I most closely connect with, which is Shri Mata Amrtanandamayi Ma. As witnessed in the actions and life story of Amma, we are all nourished and protected and loved by our shared Mother. She serves as an inexhaustible source of love, service, courage and sacrifice – a perennial example to all.
Whether during Navratri or at a local home satsangh, the worship and adoration of Amma includes singing Ayigiri or Maheshasuramardini. I have virtually the whole thing memorized. I’ve attached a video of it below for your viewing / education. I usually prefer to share three-part versions of things that include the devanagari, the transliteration, and the translation. This video only includes the transliteration, and I think I found an issue with verse nine, but whatever. It’ll still give you the bulk of what I intend to share. I absolutely encourage anyone and everyone to learn this devotional song to our Mother.
As the 2013 Navratri holiday progresses, I want to wish each of you all the best and to each of you the strongest, most healing, most protective and most protected relationships with each other and with The Mother. Jai Mata Di!
Aum Mahaganeshaya Namaha