The 1st of Saaun, ( 16th July to the 16th August) is the start of the month long Hindu tradition of Shrawan Sankratin. Where women worship the God Shiva and also their husbands or future husbands. Women seem to embrace and enjoy this time and they dress in Green or red and wear green and yellow bracelets 6 or 12 at a time to represent this. They also get Henna (Mahendi) designs on their hands. For some in developed countries this might seem a little chauvinistic or one sided. At first when this tradition was explained to me, I was thinking “hmmm yes of course worship the men, how onesided and oppressive.” and its easy to think like that as an Australian, where women are often doing roles the same as men. However the more I observe and experience the women here, the more I can appreciate another view. So for now, I will try not to look through Australian eyes and instead immerse myself in the experience.
SO as part of this tradition I need to pray to and worship Shiva and fast every Monday for the month. This is also recognised as a good health practice here to ward off nasty Monsoonal illnesses. I am meditating every morning to the beautiful mantras of “Sacred Earth’s, Om Namah Shivaya ” and listening to Prem’s beautiful voice as I imagine Shiva sitting in front of me, I am finding the process of worshipping the masculine energy of Shiva quite soothing…. It is like the more I acknowledge the masculine, the more feminine, I become. I like it… I am feeling softer, more open and less like I have to hold it all together and be strong. It is interesting to note that Shiva is known as the “the destroyer and or the Transformer”.
My intention for this month is to learn more about the Nepalese women and the deeper meanings of this tradition. I am intrigued at the apparent strength and acceptance of the women here. It is difficult as a foreigner to become part of the woman’s world here, as they are quite shy with foreigners and they often don’t trust their english skills, however I hope that this week, as I head to the mountains of Baglung, once again to spend time with my adopted family that perhaps I can start to connect more with the feminine energy of local women.
This photo is from this blog: http://blog.nepaladvisor.com/teej-celebration-of-women-hood/
(Interesting blog about Woman hood and festival celebration in Nepal)
I have always believed that one of the problems in Australian society is that women are becoming too masculine and that is creating a problem in our relationships with men. It is especially affecting men, as I feel many are lost and not sure how to interact with us anymore. I feel our behaviour is creating more masogynists and or confused males…. Women need to embrace the fullness of their femininity not become more masculine…. I think in our quest for equality we have forgotten the importance of maintaining our femininity. It is not that we need to be the same as men… We are different, we are supposed to compliment each other, not rival and compete with each other. What we need is to embrace the full power of our femininity. It is only then that men can become whole and women can be whole, then our relationships can be more harmonious and productive and our roles become clear, we become partners on a quest, unioned and complementary. I believe this is what the Hindu God and Goddess stories are about… . we are not seeing the strengths of being women we are focusing on the wrong parts… Unfortunately so many stories of women in all cultures have been lost or misinterpreted to oppress the power of the woman. Perhaps many years ago men feared the power of the feminine and therefore manipulated religious and spiritual texts to serve their own needs and their egos… TO me it makes sense; Earth is known as Mother Earth, Women give birth, we create life within us…. We are connected to intuition and the subtle energies, we are nurturers and bring colour to the world. It is time to reconnect with those parts of ourselves that are laying dormant due to societies demands. I feel when Women find and reconnect with the feminine divine goddess within each of us, then we will see more balance and harmony in the world. Men come from logic and reason and Women come from emotion and feeling. All are necessary together, complementing each other and balancing each other. I believe that is what the ancient texts were trying to say…
I feel that after visiting a Nepalese wedding it is clearer and better understood the difference here in Male and female roles, family values and commitments to each other. I am not saying it is perfect, nothing is…However I am seeing a view that I find comforting. I am enjoying witnessing the rituals, the traditions, it is these things I miss in my world. The symbolism is so deep and ancient that I am sure many Nepalese are not even sure as to why they do the rituals they do. Although they do respect them deeply, and for most of them, its a heartfelt experience. It is an experience that can only be understood from this place. No words can describe experiences of the heart they can only be felt. The sacrifices and ways people live and love here is beyond words right now… It is something you can only experience.