Monday, October 15, 2012


Navratri (meaning nine nights) is an important Hindu festival that takes place twice a year; once at the beginning of summer and again  at the beginning of winter. It symbolizes the victory of good over evil. During this festival, Hindus invoke the energy aspect of God in the form of the universal mother -- commonly known as Durga. She is the Goddess of Power and is also known as "Shakti" (which literally means power). Goddess Durga protects mankind by destroying all evil forces such as hatred, anger, jealousy, ego, etc.

The two periods of the year have been chosen to celebrate this festival because Hindus believe that it is the supreme power that provides energy for the Earth to revolve around the sun and bring about changes in the climate and the outer nature. For this, the divine power must be thanked for maintaining a correct balance in the universe for it to function the way it does. This balance of nature also the causes the humans to change and maintain our physical and mental balance. The dates of this festival are determined according to the lunar calendar. 

Navtratri is divided into sets of three days to thank the supreme Goddess in her three aspects. The first three days, the Goddess is invoked as the powerful Goddess, Durga who will destroy all our defects and impurities. The next three days, the mother is invoked as Goddess Lakshmi, the giver of spiritual wealth, who will bestow upon her devotees the limitless wealth. The final three days are spent worshiping the divine mother as Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of wisdom. For us (Hindus) to have all the success we need in this life, we must pray to all three aspects of the divine mother. Hindus fast all nine days for the Goddess by avoiding alcoholic drinks, grain, wheat, meat, onion and garlic. During this period, a pot is installed in the place of worship at home and a lamp is kept lit in the pot for nine days. The pot symbolizes the universe and the uninterrupted lamp is the everlasting divine power. 

The tenth day is commonly known as Dussehra or Vijayadashami, which is its culmination. Dussehra means "Remover of Bad Fate" (also meaning remover of the ten heads of the demon Ravana). This day marks the victory of Goddess Durga over such demons. On this day, it is said that Lord Rama had invoked the blessings of Goddess Durga who gave him the secret knowledge to kill Ravana. 

On Dussehra, huge dummies of the demon Ravana are burned everywhere in India. Plays and dance performances known as the Ram Leela, depicting the life or Lord Rama take place all over India. It marks the triumph of good over evil. Navratri is a time when communities get together for dances (known as garba) and nightly feasts. 

Hinduism is the only religion in the world which emphasizes to such an extent the motherhood of God. As the elders say, if you want to be healthy, wealthy and wise, you must pray to the supreme Goddess and you will overcome all the obstacles and hurdles of life. 

Navratri starts tomorrow -- 10/16/2012
Happy Navratri everyone.

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