Celebrating Motherhood

Mother’s Day is celebrated annually on the second Sunday of the month of May and this year, 12th May will be observed as Mother’s Day. Mothers, across almost all species, are known to zealously protect and nourish their offspring. A Mother deserves all the adoration for offering unconditional love to her children, often putting the interest of her children above her own personal interests and priorities. In the words of Robert Browning, “Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.”

Mother Earth

Even planet earth is referred to as ‘Mother Earth’.  In most religious traditions, earth is revered as a feminine divinity.  Bhumi (Bhudevi) / Vasundhara is a Hindu goddess who personifies the earth. In Zoroastrianism, the spirit of the earth is recognized as Geush Urva (a gentle, motherly cow).

Mother In Religious Traditions

In Roman mythology, Cybele was considered the Great Mother of the Gods and was associated with motherhood, nature, fertility and agriculture. She was originally worshiped in the kingdom of Phrygia, but her cult spread to Greece and Rome, where she was identified with various Greek and Roman goddesses. Hers was a major cult in the Roman Empire.

Long before Americans celebrated Mother’s Day, Europeans honored their mothers on the fourth Sunday of Lent, on Mothering (or Simnel) Sunday. During the middle-ages, laborers, apprentices and maids, mainly daughters who worked as domestic helps, would be given a holiday on the fourth Sunday of Lent, to return to their mothers and the ‘Mother Church’.

In the Christian tradition, Mother Mary is deeply loved and revered. Catholics honor Mary because God Himself honored her. Of all the women in the world, God chose Mary to bring His Son into this world. Mary gave God her unwavering consent, becoming a vessel for God’s plan for Salvation. From the moment of the Immaculate Conception to the foot of the cross, Mother Mary is the perfect embodiment of the obedience of faith.

In India, Maa (mother) Durga is worshipped as a principal aspect of the mother goddess Mahadevi. She is associated with protection, strength and motherhood. Mother Goddess Durga is the inspiration behind the patriotic song, ‘Vande Mataram’, written by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, during the Indian Independence Movement and later a much-loved national song of India. Maa Durga is present in Indian nationalism where Bharat Mata i.e. Mother India is viewed as a form of Durga. This is in sync with the ancient ideology of Durga as mother and protector of India and Indians.

Mother In Zoroastrian Folklore

Firdowsi Toosi’s epic, the Shah-nameh (Book of kings) is replete with stories about the protective love of a mother for her child. Tamineh, the wife of Rustom Pehlavan, was so over-protective about her son Sohrab, that she said: “I’ve lost my husband and now shall I lose my only son?” Rustom was away for years in long battles and she didn’t want her son also fighting alongside his father, putting his life at risk.

The Shah-nameh also recounts stories of two single mothers – Franak and Farangis – who, upon losing their husbands, ensured the safety of their children. Faridoon was son of Athwiyan and Franak. When the evil Zohak murdered Athwiyan, Franak took little Faridoon to a secluded place in the Alburz Mountains, entrusting him to the care of Purmayaah – the spiritual motherly cow who nursed the child for three years.

Kay Khosrow was the son of the Iranian prince – Siavash, who married princess Farangis of Turan, while in exile. Before Kay Khosrow was born, Siavash was murdered in Turan by his maternal grandfather – Afrasiab. Kay Khosrow was protected by his mother Farangis and trained in the desert by Piran, the vizier of Afrasiab. His paternal grandfather was Kay Kavus, the legendary Shah of Iran who chose him as his heir when he returned to Iran with his mother Farangis.

Shaping Leaders

W R Wallace’s poem, ‘The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Is The Hand That Rules The World’, praises motherhood as the preeminent force for change in the world. This is also true for Alexander the Great. The moment Alexander was born, his mother Olympia’s primary objective was to make him a great king. Olympia doted on young Alexander, constantly reminding him of his noble lineage and ties to Achilles. This had a powerful effect on Alexander (he even carried a copy of the Iliad with him). When he crossed the Hellespont into Asia Minor, one of the first places he visited was the remains of Troy, paying homage to his ancestor, Achilles.

Amazing Bond

Undoubtedly, a mother is truly selfless and shares an amazing and unique bond with her. She begins to love her child even before it’s born. Nothing in this world compares to a mother’s love – it’s the purest kind. Nine months of pregnancy creates an enduring bond between mother and child, marking only the beginning of an everlasting relationship. She feeds and soothes the child. The infant’s world revolves around its mother. When her child cries, the mother instinctively knows if its hungry or sleepy or unwell. In 2017, Halle Berry tweeted, “For me, motherhood is learning about the strengths I didn’t know I had, and dealing with the fears I didn’t know existed.”

A mother impacts her child as no other person. A child’s persona at birth is like a blank slate – a mother teaches her child what is morally right or wrong. instilling in her child the ability to be happy as also the values and traditions of her family. A mother can be both loving and strict at the same time. Indeed, a mother is a force of nature – she can mould her child into anything she wants.

A child values its mother’s approval. A mother has the power to build or destroy a child’s self-esteem. Abraham Lincoln famously said, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

Epitome Of Forgiveness And Compassion

The most important quality of a mother is her ability to quickly forgive the mistakes of her children and continue to love them despite their faults. Rudyard Kipling put it so beautifully:

If I were hanged on the highest hill,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

I know whose love would follow me still,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were drowned in the deepest sea,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

I know whose tears would come down to me,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were damned of body and soul,

I know whose prayers would make me whole,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

 Indeed, a mother is God’s Gift to be valued, cherished, loved and respected. If your mother is still with you, tell her today and everyday how much she means to you. Give her the gift of your time. Share with her your success. Enjoy a meal with her at home or at her favorite restaurant. Make her feel wanted. Make her feel proud!

And, if your mother is no more with you, remember her daily in your prayers. Offer gratitude to the Universe for the mother who gave birth to you and shaped your life so positively!

Noshir H. Dadrawala
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