Navratri celebrations are for worshipping the Goddess Durga (the goddess of power) and her various forms for nine days and tenth day is festival of ‘Dussehra’. Navratri means ‘nine nights‘. It is one of the most cherished and biggest festival of India celebrated across the lands of festivities and culture. I have already mentioned this year navratri dates in Navratri dates 2016.
Significance of nine days
This festival is the celebrations of victory of positivity over negativity and there is a reason that one single festival is celebrated over nine days. the first three days are ‘tamasic’,the next three days are ‘rajasic’ and next three days are ‘sattvic’. The mother divine is awakened over this period so that she enhances the positivity in us and help us curb that negativity in ourselves.This is what is done in the Chandi Homa.
Secondly the beginning of spring and autumn are important junction of climatic and solar impacts and these two periods are considered as sacred opportunity for the worship of divine mother. These nine days are most unique and important period of devotional sadhanas and worship of absolute ultimate creative energy which operates this world in the form of goddess durga.
Also it is assumed that in old times farmers owed their thankfulness to Maa durga and hence celebrated it for nine days to show their gratitude.
Each day a different appearance, a different power and a different motive of goddess is celebrated.
The Puja Process
Day 1 to Day 3
So the first three days, her energy and power are worshipped in the form of Kumari, Parvati and Kali. It may also be symbolised as celebration of womanhood or that power which is assuring the survival of our race and planet. The Kumari represents the girl child ,the parvati is embodiment of a young woman and kali represent the absolute destruction and woman who has reached maturity.
This is also the ultimate celebration of women in hindu culture and first three days various cuisines are prepared and colourful clothes are worn.
Day 4 to Day 6
The next three days are celebration of rajasic tendencies or spiritual wealth in form of Goddess Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth). It is assumed that the fourth to six day celebrations are to fill that void which is created after conquering the ego, anger, lust and other animal instinct and destroying it. So the next step should be acquiring all the materialistic,spiritual wealth and prosperity of this world. Wealth is incomplete without knowledge and so Goddess Saraswati (the goddess of wisdom) is also worshipped alongside the goddess of wealth on the fifth day where a diya is lit before the goddess statue and books are kept at her feet and students don’t touch their books for that period.
Day 7 to Day 8
The next two days Goddess Saraswati is worshipped and prayers are offered to seek spiritual knowledge and a yagna is performed on the eighth day which comprises of a sacrifice to honor the goddess durga and also bid her farewell. The sacrifice is made out of ghee and rice pudding known as kheer and sesame seeds.
The ninth day is known as Mahanavami and Kanya pujan is done where nine young girl childs who haven’t reached their puberty are offered gifts and food. Their feets are washed and they are worshipped symbolically to respect women ultimately in hindu culture.
The tenth day is festival of Dussehra where an evil lord king Lord Ravana effigies are burnt and people enjoy eating and going out with their families to visit colourful and huge pandals and fairs after the end of their fasts and prayers that they offer to goddess for 9 long days.
Lord shiva granted permission to Goddess durga to visit her mother for nine days during that period she even killed a demon Mahishasura after a ruthless battle. That demon king was so powerful that he could not be killed by other gods and tormentised them brutally but Goddess Durga killed him effortlessely. The story associated with Navratri is found in the Markandeya Purana. The chapters 81 to 93 in the Markandeya Purana talks about the slaying of demon Mahishasura or Mahisha by Durga and it is referred as Devimahatmya and is recited during the Navaratri and Durga Puja. It symbolized the victory of good over evil.
Lotus legend of Rama
The second legend and most popular one is related to Lord Rama that when he was fighting against Demon king lord Ravana to free his abducted wife then he thought of taking blessing from Goddess Shakti (power) for which he needed 108 lotus flowers but he could only manage 107 but he decided to offer his eye which was blue and lotus like to complete the Havana but Goddess Durga pleased from his devotion appeared to him and blessed him and he ultimately won. The season during which he had performed this puja was spring and the tradition of celebrating Durga Puja has continued since then.
Legend of Uma
It is mainly believed in East India that ‘Uma’ the beautiful daughter of the king of Himalaya ‘Daksha’ wanted to marry Lord Shiva whom her father never liked but eventually she got married to lord Shiva only. The king broke off all the relationship with them and planned a yagna where he invited everyone but not ‘Shiva’. So the Uma got deeply hurt and immolated herself in yagna fire. Later she took re birth as Parvati and married Shiva again. It is believed that since then Parvati or Uma comes on earth every year with Ganesh, Kartik, Saraswati Laxmi and her friends called Jaya and Bijaya, to visit her parent`s home during the nine days of Navratri.
Stay tuned for more about Navratri and get into the right feel for the festive season just a few days ahead.
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