Divine nine – Navadurga – The nine forms of the Goddess

Author: Nalini Ramachandran
Illustrator: Priyanka Pachpande
Publisher: Penguin India – Puffin
Length: 96 Pages
For Ages: 7+
Type:  Picture Book
Format: Paperback
Price: ₹299

Navaratri is celebrated with great fervor all over India in myriad ways. The festival of 9 days and 9 nights celebrates goddesses and their glory. The Goddess Durga is worshipped in 9 different and unique forms on each of the 9 days as – Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Maha Gauri, and Siddhidatri. Do you know why and how these forms of Goddess are worshipped? Well, then this is the only book you need.

Navadurga - The nine forms of the Goddess

Navadurga – The nine forms of the Goddess Durga is a captivating book that has stories for each day of Navaratri, detailing how it is celebrated in a variety of ways in different states of India and why these 9 days are important. Nalini Ramachandran has superbly used short stories to convey the background and origin of each of these goddesses. She explains why the Navratri is an opportunity to honour and celebrate the Shaktis, or powers that the Goddess has blessed us all with. She also talks about the special dishes prepared for the Navratri. These food items and dishes vary across the different regions of the country to another. The book ends on a light-hearted note, portraying a never-seen-before side of Lord Shiva’s unique family.

The stories are crisp and engaging and are bound to keep readers enthralled. It gives the same feeling as listening to a story from your grandmother! This book, ultimately, celebrates the power and strength of women. Every story of the mother goddess will subtly remind the reader of the powers that reside within each of us. The nourishing and fierce Shakti are like two sides of coins and are inextricably a part of us. These stories never lose their value and charm regardless of the number of times you listen to or read them. Throughout this book, the author examines several aspects of Navaratri, including the importance assigned to women in our tradition. For example, it mentions the popular ritual of Kanya or Kumari Pooja, which is a way of telling girls about the goddesses that dwell within them as Shaktis and how these Shakthi’s help them thwart all evils and live without any fears or inhibitions – just like the nine Goddesses!

The colourful book has not just an interesting narrative by is also accompanied by gorgeous illustrations – so beautiful, you will not want to take your eyes off the book. The book will make readers realize that India is so diverse, yet so similar when it comes to celebrating its festivals. I love how the author/illustrator made sure to tell about different skin colour and body size of the goddesses, and that they shouldn’t just be celebrated as fair-skinned and lean ones. These illustrations show how it definitely breaks the stereotypes related to mythological representations!

Navadurga - The nine forms of the goddess
Collage of pages from the book – Navadurga – The nine forms of the goddess by Nalini Ramachandran. Penguin-Puffin.

Perfect for middle graders and older, this book will transport readers to the world of the divine. A must-read for all those who are looking to learn the whys and hows of their time-tested traditions.

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After reading this book:

Though we believe that the aim of reading a book should be for pleasure and not be to “learn”, it is inevitable that children learn even without any push. Here are some activities that you can do that will complement this book to make the reading even more fun! These activities are for varied age groups, so we suggest you read and use them appropriately.

  1. Replicate these beautiful illustrations of the nine forms of the Goddess in one poster.
  2. Draw a graphic with the qualities that signify the power each goddess represents.

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