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The Role of Women in Hinduism

Hindu Woman's role as a mother
The Hindu mother is an object of reverence. The saying 'Matri devo bhava' ('mother is divine') is apt. According to Hinduism, God creates, maintains and destroys the universe but the power with which he performs these functions is called Shakti (universal energy) and this takes a female form. This Shakti or power is worshipped alongside God as the Divine Mother. This is the origin of mother worship and thus the idea that the human mother is worthy of reverence and worship just as the Divine Mother or Shakti.

The Hindu child grows up in a religious atmosphere; from birth to marriage, a number of religious ceremonies must be performed for the child. The mother supervises each of these with great care. She considers her household and herself blessed with the arrival of children. The true purpose of marriage is thus fulfilled. A strong attachment is built up between the mother and child and this bond is eternal and persists into old age. The mother's blessings are regarded as a necessity, for progress by her children in all walks of life. For example, when a child leaves the house he or she touches their mother's feet and on return does the same. At congregational worship, the Mother God is garlanded, earthen lamps (divas) are waved over her and sandalwood paste is placed on her forehead. In the same way that a Hindu worships his God, he also pays reverence to his mother. In her old age she is protected and cared for by her own children. The idea of placing her in a home to be cared for by others is abhorrent to Hindus. Caring for one's mother (and father) until their departure from the world is considered a duty resulting in copious blessing.

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