Growing up Indian-American in Toledo, Ohio, I never really understood what the
goddesses we worship in Hindu temples were all about. Some parts of our Navratri celebration
focused on a mother goddess, Durga, while others focus on individual goddesses who
represented parts of Durga.
Bewildered or sometimes even frightened by goddesses like Kali, with her tongue
sticking out and her foot atop a scary-looking demon, I used to stare at these images during
aartis, worship rituals wherein we would offer the flame of an earthen clay lamp to one or more
deities. I knew I was supposed to feel something, but I mostly felt confused.
That confusion and frustration only grew over the years as I saw the contrast between
reverence shown toward goddesses during festivals and the way girls and women were often
treated in real life. One year, I met a young girl named Lakshmi at the Gandhi Ashram while
visiting India. She had gone through a lot of abuse, and was sent to the Ashram to improve her
life by getting an education. The fact that she had been abused and yet was named after the most
widely worshipped Hindu goddess struck me like a lightning bolt.
Why could we not connect the divine feminine we worshipped during Navratri to the
divine feminine inside this little girl, inside all little girls and women, and actually within all
living beings? Was there a way to not just worship the idea of the divine feminine but also to
find it in ourselves and to carry that strength with us into the modern world?
Over the years, I had the opportunity to study in a lineage-based tradition that converted
the confusing 9-night festival of Navratri into a transformational opportunity to awaken my soul
Today, I understand each of the nine nights of Navratri as an opportunity to connect with
a different aspect of Goddess Durga’s infinite strength through the Navratri goddesses who
represent various aspects of the spiritual journey we must all undertake to awaken to our atma
shakti (soul power). This journey takes us through our nine chakras: spinning vortexes of energy
that regulate physiological and psychological functions. There is a different goddess and power
that unfolds within you when you balance each chakra.
One of the many gifts I received from the daily practice I created to celebrate Navratri
daily is reclaiming my voice. The power of your voice is connected with the fifth chakra, in your
throat area. This is where your energy can express itself. Goddess Durga as Skandmata dwells
here. She is the biological mother of the powerful warrior god Skanda, and represents the
possibility that when we care for our inner child, we can become brave and powerful like
Here are four simple ways you can start reclaiming the power of your voice. They center
around Chapter 17, verse 15 of The Bhagavad Gita:
1. Tap into sacred silence to reflect on what’s most important to you.
Silence is like Goddess Skandmata, providing the opportunity to birth a brand new reality that
can only reveal itself in the void of silence. It is said that silence gives birth to wisdom. A prompt
for this practice is to ask yourself, “What do I most value?” Your values will lead you to your
most powerful expression.
2. Speak only the truth (abstain from white lies).
We typically speak lies to protect ourselves from the exposure we feel telling the truth would
necessitate. But in the Vedas, there is an expression, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, meaning “Truth
alone is beautiful.” We feel empowered by truth, even if it is hard to swallow initially.
3. Reflect how what you express benefits you and those you communicate with.
This is one of the best barometers to assess the effectiveness of your speech.
4. Speak in a way that if your message were to be recorded and echo for lifetimes, you
would be happy with your recording.
This ensures you no longer have to regret things you have said.
Learn more strategies to reclaim the power of your voice, and many other daily rituals to awaken
your soul power in The Way of the Goddess.
(adapted) From THE WAY OF THE GODDESS: Daily Rituals To Awaken Your Inner Warrior
and Discover Your True Self by Ananta Ripa Ajmera, published by TarcherPerigee, an imprint
of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2022 by
Ananta Ripa Ajmera.