– By Aparna Sharma
The Third Navaratra is to honour the Prasooti Ma. The woman who ensured that the fragile and vulnerable new born – new mother receive the nurturing care they require. The period of ‘Sutak’ where the new mother and new born were isolated, or placed separately, away from the rest of the family, was an ancient practice of quarantine (and not some deplorable practice of untouchability as is commonly made out to be). The Prasooti Ma or Jaapa maid had to be a woman with reliable hygiene quotient, compassion and be experienced enough to be able to support a new mom even in something like how to nurse a baby. This support could come from paid staff or the Nani/Dadi/Bua/ Maasi or any other family or friend.
The third navaratra is the final of Mahakaali days among the Navaratras. The form of Durga for this day is Ma Chandraghanta. She represents control over the mind, alertness and readiness, all essential for winning the internal war with one’s own demons. With a crescent moon adorning her forehead she is a reminder that true power requires transcending vacillating emotions and thoughts.
Ma Chandraghanta governs the Manipur chakra – the center for Power. The element of this Chakra is Fire and therefore it is also called the Sun center. The fire element manifests in the body as heat in the Solar Plexus. Of all the elements Fire is the one element that cannot be polluted. Whether it is lighting a lamp or performing a havan, approach this element with immense reverence. Performing Traatak on a flame can help develop intuitive powers!
The colour of this chakra is yellow and the representative animal is Ram. When our consciousness has reached the Manipura Chakra we have overcome the negative aspects of Svadhishthana. The Manipura Chakra contains many precious jewels such as the qualities of clarity, self-confidence, bliss, self-assurance, knowledge, wisdom and the ability to make correct decisions.
Anyone attempting a practice to strengthen this Chakra would be served well to remember that just as fire can cook but also singe, similarly processes that empower can also corrupt, unless there is deep humility and integrity. Be observant of the power dynamics in your relationships, of your temperament, of the manner in which you engage with those less powerful than you and address aspects that need to be. Continue with your meditation or chanting practice, feeling more peaceful and centered, assured that the Universal energies are most conducive for you to manifest the best version of yourself !
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