Navaratri is one of the most ancient festivals dating back to the times immemorial. This year, the nine-day festival has commenced from October 15 & was celebrated until October 24. The word Navaratri is derived from two Sanskrit words—'nava' meaning nine, and 'ratri' translates to night. Each day is dedicated to honouring Goddess Durga in her nine divine forms.
The Mythology behind Navaratri
The legend associated with Navaratri is about the great battle between the powerful demon Mahishasura and Goddess Durga. Mahishasura was blessed with immortality by Lord Brahma under one condition: Mahishasura could only be defeated by a woman. Goddess Durga finally achieved victory over the demon king, and millions of devotees celebrate this victory as Navaratri.
Dimensions of Goddess
The nine days of Navaratri are dedicated to three prominent Goddesses. The first three days are accorded to Goddess Durga, the next three to Goddess Lakshmi and the last three to Goddess Saraswati. The tenth day known as Vijayadashami, is Dussehra.
Durga is the Goddess of strength and blesses us with health and physical power. This is basic to our survival so we can pursue higher goals in life with the gift of health.
Goddess Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth. She blesses us with success & prosperity. This is the next basic necessity to pursue higher goals in life.
Goddess Saraswati is worshipped as the Goddess of wisdom. She blesses us with knowledge, understanding, intuition and wisdom. This is the next necessity in life to live well.
Rituals of Navaratri
The festival of Navaratri is a time for fasting, meditation and prayer to the divine. Prayers are offered for inner strength and resilience to confront the demons (problems & setbacks) in our lives. It is a period of reflection & introspection. The feast involves fasting across the nine days. Evenings are a visual treat in every city across India with dance, traditional attire, elaborate pandals and processions across cities that add to the grand & colourful celebrations. Prayers and mantras are chanted, offerings of sweets, fruits and flowers are made & each day is associated with a specific colour. Devotees offer a variety of food offerings called ‘Prasad’ & seek blessings for happiness and protection from Goddess Durga.
The spiritual Context
The spiritual context of this historic feast is a thought-provoking indication of our daily lives. Each day we are burdened by stress, anger & anxiety of an uncertain future or a past we can’t seem to make peace with. Navaratri is a time to dwell on these emotions that do not serve a purpose in our lives. It is a time to rejuvenate, reflect and clear the mind of all the negativity. It is a journey inwards to surrender our thoughts in prayers and chants, meditate and evoke the greater spiritual wisdom. This is the true celebration of victory over evil; as we gradually let go of our negativity and welcome happiness & diversity into our lives. These nine days of Navaratri dissolve our tiredness and monotony, restore our resolve & energy and motivate us to celebrate life with joy.
Here’s wishing our Samyak community, our readers and each of you and your families & loved ones a happy & prosperous Navaratri.