Navaratri reflections
Last year just before Navratri, I had shared the following piece with family and friends, asking whether the revelries of a festival like Navratri sit well amid the sorry plight of so many Indians and amid the unheeded perils confronting India. I thought it might perhaps be appropriate to share it with the larger Nirmukta audience at the onset of Navratri this year, and would like to know your thoughts on the same. The English version though not a verbatim translation attempts to capture the spirit of the original Hindi.

नवरात्रि का जागरण इस चिंतन से आरम्भ हुआ है, जिसने इन प्रश्नों का रूप लिया...

क्या हम जाग सकेंगे नौ रात ?

झांकते झलक इस उत्सव का,
भूलते नैन नींद की मुलाक़ात !
पर परखने रूप वास्तव का...
क्या हम सचेत होंगे नौ रात?

रास का नृत्य है अनायास,
उठती नहीं थकान की बात!
खोजते ध्येय और छोड़कर विलास...
क्या हम चल पाएंगे नौ रात?

मर्दन असुर का मनाते...
भूलें न हम आज का उत्पात!
बचाने हिंसा से नाते,
क्या हम पहरा देंगे नौ रात?

पंडाल संवार में हैं सब रत...
यह परंपरा है विख्यात |
ताकि हर बेघर पाए छत...
क्या हम दान करेंगे नौ रात ?

अरविन्द अय्यर (१८ - ०९ - २००९ )

The vigil of the Nine Nights begins with this contemplation, in the form of these questions.

Can we stay awake for nine whole nights?

Slumber into these rapt eyes does not creep...
As they gaze upon these festive delights!
But to discern Truth will we give up sleep...
And seek unwavering for nine whole nights?

Fatigue touches not joyous dancing feet;
Limbs tire not during these graceful flights!
But forsaking thrills, marching to Truth's beat...
Can we tread undeterred for nine whole nights?

Celebrating the demons' destruction;
Let us not forget today's raging fights!
To save kinship from hatred's invasion...
Are we willing to stand guard nine whole nights?

The bedecked tents a grand sight offer...
But the plight of the homeless this scene blights.
To build homes for all so that none suffer...
Are we willing to toil nine whole nights?

Arvind Iyer (09/18/2009)

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