Today is the last day of the Hindu festival of Navaratri, dedicated to the Divine Mother of the universe or Maha-Shakti – Dussehra or Durga Puja.
This year, it’s also the last day of the Mother’s week of bestowing the divine energy of clarity on the planet. I wouldn’t doubt that the two events were designed to coincide.
For anyone who thinks this is somehow not a day for them to celebrate, perhaps recall that Maha-Shakti is the same as what Christians call the Holy Spirit and what the Buddha meant by Dharma, the natural law. Lao Tzu knew her as the Mother as well:
Nameless indeed is the source of creation
But things have a mother and she has a name.
So here is wishing everyone a wonderful tenth and culminating day of Navaratri. Jai Ma! Thanks to Cait.
Introduction to Navaratri
In the months of Ashwina and Kartika, Hindus observe a 10 day ceremony of fast, rituals, celebrations, fiests to honour the mother Goddess and triumph of Lord Rama over Demon Ravana. Dussehra also symbolizes the triumph of warrior Goddess Durga over the buffalo demon, Mahishasura. Thus, it is a celebration of victory of good over evil.
This celebration starts from Navratri and ends with the tenth day festival of “Dussehra”. Navratri and Dussehra is celebrated throughout the country at the same time, with varying rituals, but with great enthusiasm and energy as it marks the end of scorching summer and the start of winter season.
The tenth day after Navratri is called Dussehra, on which number of fairs are organized throughout the northern India, burning effigies of Ravana. It is also called “Vijayadashmi” as this day marks the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. Vijayadashami is considered to be an auspicious day for the Indian householder, on which he worships, protects and preserves ‘Shakti’ (power). According to Scriptures, by worshipping the ‘Shakti’ on these nine-days the householders attain the threefold power i.e. physical, mental and spiritual, which helps him to progress in life without any difficulty.
The ‘Ramlila’ – an enactment of the life of Lord Rama, is held during the nine days preceding Dussehra. On the tenth day (Dussehra or Vijay Dasami), larger than life effigies of Ravana, his son and brother – Meghnadh and Kumbhakarna are set to fire.
The theatrical enactment of this dramatic encounter is held throughout the country in which every section of people participate enthusiastically.
In burning the effigies the people are asked to burn the evil within them, and thus follow the path of truth and goodness, bearing in mind the instance of Ravana, who despite all his might and majesty was destroyed for his evil ways.
Durga Puja – the greatest festival of India is celebrated with great enthusiasm in every corner of the country. The nine incarnations of Maa Durga are worshipped with devotion by the devotees of Maa Bhagwati. The nine incarnations of Maa Durga include Shailputri, Brahamcharini, Chandraghanta, Kusumanda, Sikandmata, Katyayni, Kaalratri, Maha Gauri and Siddhidatri.
People worship Durga, the divine mother to seek her blessings and guidance to follow the right path in life. Lord Rama also invoked the blessings of the Divine Mother to destroy Ravana, the symbol of evil. Dussehra festival, which usually falls on the last day of Shri Durga Puja celebrations is observed throughout the country as victory of Lord Rama over Ravana.
Shri Lakshmi Puja, the goddess of wealth falls on the full moon night following Durga Puja and is celebrated with great devotion. The worship of goddess Kali symbolises the purpose to see removal of darkness from the minds and to imbibe the spirit of light in the way of life. This celebration coincides with the Deepawali festival.
Shri Saraswati is the goddess of learning. It is a special festival for the learners held on the fifth day of Basant. The days coincide with the harvesting of golden paddy in the villages in eastern parts of the country. The Bengalis show their happiness when the sky becomes clear and there are excellent weather conditions before Durga Puja.
People chant hymns and sing bhajans to welcome goddess Uma, the daughter of Bengal at her visit to mother Menka’s house for four days. During these four days, the Bengalis from all castes, creeds and communities eat, sing and dance together and offer prayers to the Divine mother.
It is believed that on the tenth day Uma or Gauri goes back to her husband Lord Shiva with a tearful farewell to her parents. People hold Maha Saptami Puja, Maha Ashtami Puja, Maha Navmi Puja and Maha Dashmi Puja at their houses. They invite little unmarried girls — the Kanjaks to their house, worship them and offer red chunnis with prasad of puri, chane and halwa as day symbolises the nine incarnations of Maa Durga.
Some of the devotees of divine mother keep fast on all nine days. They eat food which is specially prepared for the occasion and include fruits, milk, chappatis of ‘singhare ka atta’ and ‘oghle ka atta’, papads made of sago and many other things prepared for fasts.