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Happy Navratri fellow Hindus 🙂 While I tend to dissociate myself from the label of Hindu and continue to contemplate what exactly that word even means, I love me some Hindu holidays. A time for nostalgia and some spiritual cleansing, what’s not to love? Navratri, or “nine nights”, is celebrated in many different ways across the Hindu spectrum, but is generally considered an auspicious time to begin new ventures and turn a new leaf. It is a time for introspection, fasting, devotion, and the pursuit of clarity of mind and heart. It is a time to worship the goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati–representations and givers of strength, prosperity, and wisdom, respectively. It is a time to cleanse oneself of various vices. This year, I have a schedule. It seems childish, but here I am, penciling in moral edification into my planner. I’ll share it with you:

  • Wednesday, 28 September: Today I planned to evade kama vasana, literally “the fragrance of desire”, or–simply–lust. Done. Enough prayer to keep my thoughts clean and my mind focused on school. Good job, self.
  • Thursday, 29 September: Today I planned to avoid krodha, or anger. I made up with people I had been frustrated with, apologized for my faults, and forgave theirs. Day two, and feeling excellent.
  • Friday, 30 September: Today I planned (to attempt) to overcome moha, or delusion. Hysterical, I know. I mean, no biggie, just kind of the whole point of the Hindu experience. Seeing things for what they are. Conquering our biggest obstacle: ignorance of reality, of The Ultimate Reality. Buuut, baby steps, right? Today I took a step back to remember my priorities in life, to appreciate things as they are, and recognize what is ultimately important and what is not. Great day for this also because I bombed an exam, but was able to step back, breathe, and recognize that this was not something to cry about. Just have to work harder to learn the material, do better next time, and not evaluate my intelligence or worth by this one grade. Just think of it as humbling and motivating, not earth shattering.
  • Saturday, 1 October: Today I planned to overcome lobha, or greed. Not really a greedy person, but I can be gluttonous if food is around, so I just toned it down.
  • Sunday, 2 October: Today I planned to overcome mada, or excessive pride. Pushing my pride aside and apologizing for things even when they aren’t totally my fault…I can struggle with. Definitely made some apologies that I wouldn’t have normally. You know, taking complete responsibility is not always easy, and it is frustrating when there are some real punks out there who really should be kinder and acknowledge their own problems…but it really feels good to call it like it is and apologize for personal shortcomings and try to be better. Honestly feels better than just trying to displace blame. It doesn’t hurt to apologize. I say this now, but UGH this one girl I can’t avoid is a real test of my patience. Ok, breathe, Isfahan. Breathe.
  • Monday, 3 October: Today I plan to overcome matsara, or jealousy. A work in progress. Not a major issue, but envy has certainly sunk its nasty claws into me before. An unsightly vice. Purge it.
  • Tuesday, 4 October: Today I plan to purify my manas, or mind-soul-thoughts (sorry, sometimes I can’t translate Sanskrit better than that). Essentially, clear any remaining negative thoughts or intentions and only harbor positive feelings. All else is only a burden on myself, after all.
  • Wednesday, 5 October: Today I further cultivate my buddhi, or intellect. Try and avoid fruitless gossip or pointless talk. Learn something new. Take the time to stop talking and just listen and see and absorb. Quiet is meditative and calming for the mind. Maybe yoga for an extra half hour today, too.
  • Thursday, 6 October: Today is supposed to be a test of my chitta, or will, and a day to conquer ahankara, or ego. I don’t really know how to articulate the goal of this day. Hm. To see things as they are, to have a pleasant disposition, to have clarity of mind, to harbor only good-will, to be true to the goodness within, and to be happy. To get as close to that state of bliss as I can. To feel that thing that the most spiritual among us–across all religions–feel. To be like the Dalai Lama for a day, dammit. Have you seen the man? He practically emanates light. The world would literally be a brighter place if there were more people like him. LITERALLY.

Navratri is concluded with Dasara/Dussehra, a celebration of our moral triumphs–little or large–and renewed hope that comes with trying to turn over a new leaf. In the spirit of Navratri, I send everyone my good wishes, prayers, and hugs and kisses. I wish everyone the strength to fight their individual battles and find peace and love in their lives.