Navaratri, or the nine nights, is the Indian festival of nine holy nights which celebrates the victory of the goddess Shakti over evil. The days fall on the nine auspicious days as per the lunar calendar of Hinduism. The principal forms of the Goddess are known as Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. This is a most popular festival in Hinduism that celebrates the victory of good over evil. Navaratri 2019 will begin on Sunday, 29 September and ends on Tuesday, 8 October 2019.
Vijaya Dashami / Dassera
Nava means nine and Ratri means nights. Navaratri is celebrated four times a year as goddess worship – in winter, spring, summer and autumn. The spring and autumn Navaratri are for everyone, whereas the winter and summer Navaratri are known as gupt or secret Navaratri. These are celebrated in specific goddess temples only.
The autumn Navaratri is one of the major celebrations of goddess worship. The three goddesses, Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped. This festival is mainly about the victory of good over evil. Goddess Durga fights and wins the demon Mahishasura (a buffalo demon). This festival is also connected to Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana. The tenth day of this festival is known as Dassera or Vijaya Dashmi, celebrating the twin victories.
The spring Navaratri ends with the birth of Lord Rama on the ninth day. During the Autumn Navaratri Lord Rama was fighting with Ravana and emerged victorious on the tenth day.
According to the Puranas, Durga also fought the demon Mahishasura in her form as Goddess Chamundeshwari and on the 10th day she emerged victoriously. These wars, for spiritual aspirants, are the wars we fight with our inner demons so that we can progress on the path of self-realisation. The nine days are nine steps to moksha and the goddesses give our power to find our higher self.
The divine mothers are a representation of Shakti and they alone give the power to their devotee to conquer all. These divine mothers are known as the Nava Durga (9 Names of Durga). Each of the days honours an aspect of Divine Mother and step by step the aspirant.
Day One: Sailaputra – Daughter of the Himalayas
Day Two: Brahmacarini Devi, the Goddess of Swadhisthana Chakra
Day Three: Chandraghanta – She Who is Beautiful as the Moon
Day Four: Kusmanda – She Who brings happiness
Day Five: Skandamata – Mother of Skanda, the leader of armies against evil
Day Six: Katyayani – Aspect of Mother Kali
Day Seven: Kalaratri – Kali Night of no Moon
Day Eight: Mahagauri – The Great White Goddess
Day Nine: Siddhidatri – She Who is of great spiritual Powers and knowledge
The days are also subdivided into 3 sets of three days:
Kali: The first three days are devoted to Kali, the Goddess of Destruction and Restoration. She is the wife of Shiva. It is a time of purification, a time to let go of all that is not right for your life so that the heart is clear to accept the new energy from the divine. This is also a time to control the inner demons – the desires that lead you astray, the excessive, greedy so-called needs, the fears that keep us tied to the world and give rise to more and more desires and therefore disappointments in life.
Lakshmi: The second three days are devoted to Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity and wealth. She is the wife of Vishnu; it is a time of preservation of your good nature and what is good in your life and acquiring new things ethically that make your life wealthy and prosperous. Think about preserving and acquiring spiritual wealth.
Saraswati: The last three days are devoted to Saraswati, the Goddess of Wisdom, Knowledge and the Arts. She is the wife of Brahma. This is the time of receiving Divine Guidance on how to properly use all resources.
With each set of three days, you move closer to your spiritual goals. Goddess Kali helps to purify your mind and free it up for new possibilities. The mind has to be free of its old obsessions and desires, only then it is ready to take on new information. In the second set, Goddess Laxmi helps you preserve what is good already and make positive steps to make yourself wealthy both materially and spiritually. Finally, Goddess Saraswati gives the knowledge and the wisdom to embrace the path of Brahman and overcome any obstacles on the path to moksha. If we do this ritual annually then we will slowly but surely find the path to realisation.
Navratri/Navaratri will end this year on October 08 and will be followed by the festival of Dassera/Dussehra, which is celebrated on the 10th day of the month known as Ashwini in the Hindu calendar.
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