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Monday, April 23, 2012

NAVARATRI - DASSARA - by Dr. Satyavati Kandala

NAVARATRI - DASSARA - by Dr. Satyavati Kandala

Navaratri (Nine Nights) is one of the greatest festivals of India. This festival is celebrated for nine days, (Oct 14 to 22nd) in which God is worshipped in the form of Mother.  Divine Mother (Shakti) represents Prakriti, counterpart of Purusha jointly making possible the creation of the  world according to the religious ideology of Goddess Worship.  According to Vedic scriptures (The Daksha Yajna) that Lord Vishnu had to cut the body of Sati into pieces to stop the  destruction of Shiva who was perturbed by her death. At fifty-two places these pieces fell. (See the special attachment) They are called Shakti Pithas. Through out India this festival is celebrated.
The beginning of summer and the beginning of winter are two very important junctions of climatic and   Solar influence. Vasanta Navaratri in spring season and Sharada Navaratri in Autumn Season are taken as sacred opportunities for the worship. The Rama Navaratri indicates them respectively in the month of Chaitra (April-May) and the Durga Navaratri in 
the month of Aswayuga (September-October)
The bodies and minds of people undergo a considerable change on account of the changes in Nature. This is a period of introspection and purification. Navaratri is traditionally an auspicious time for starting new ventures.
Durga Pooja or Navaratri commences on the first and ends on the tenth day of the bright half of Aswayuja  .It is held in commemoration of the Victory of Durga over Mashishasura, the buffalo-headed demon (who symbolizes Ego with in us).
In Bengal Durga Pooja is a great festival.  Goddess Durga   Image is worshipped for nine days and then cast into water. The tenth day is called Vijaya Dashami. According to Puranas the Mother of Durga (that is, the wife of the king of the Himalayas) longed to see her daughter Durga.  Durga was permitted by Lord Shiva to visit her beloved mother only for 
nine days in the year. The festival of Durga Pooja marks this brief visit and ends with the Vijaya Dashami day, when Goddess Durga leaves for Her return to Mount Kailash.
Durga Pooja is the greatest Hindu festival in which God is adored as Mother. Hinduism is the only religion in the world, which has emphasized to such an extent the mother hood of God. One's relationship with one's mother is the dearest and the sweetest of all human relations. Durga represents the Divine Mother. She is the energy aspect of the Lord.

Navaratri symbolizes different things in different regions besides the worship of the Mother Goddess. Ayudha puja (worship of whatever implements one may use in one's livelihood. This is an expression of gratitude to God for helping one too fulfill one's duties) and Bommala koluvu in Southern India and Rama Lila in North. Graba or Dandiya in Gujarat.
Navaratri is also called Dasara (Dasha Hara), which means the cutting the ten heads of Ravana (who signifies the demon Ego). The story of Sri Rama is known in almost all parts of the globe. Navaratri highlights the principles elucidated by the Ramayana. (Ramayana Navaahnam reciting the whole Ramayana in Nine days is a special feature observed these days.
The Following are the regular features of this Navratri  (nauratri) festival:  

A special ritualistic worship of the Mother Durga;  this  includes the recitation of Durga Saptashati or Devi Mahatmaya.
Recitation of Lalaitha Sahasrnama or Durga Sahasranama  (Laksharchana 100,000 times to repeat the name of the Divine Mother)
Devotees are exhorted to do the maximum number of Japa of the Navaarna Mantra AIM HREEM KLEEM CHAAMUNDAAYAI VICHHE or the Mantra JAI SHRI DURGA.
Some devotees observe fasting with milk and fruits only on all these nine days or at least three days. Visiting Temples and participating in-group chanting and seeking the blessings of the Divine Mother is the common feature in all these nine days.
Let us celebrate Dasara in the right spirit by making honest efforts to destroy the demon Ego, the ten headed i.e. passion, pride ,anger ,greed, infatuations, lust, hatred, jealousy, selfishness and crookedness) and  radiate peace and love wherever we go, and get the blessings of the Divine Mother.
Three aspects of the eternal smother has been depicted in this Devi Sapta Shloki -The Goddess Lakshmi represents Iccha shakti  (wealth) Goddess Saraswati represents Jnana Shakti  (knowledge)and Goddess Kali represent Kriya Shakti  (strength). All three merge in one form as Durga. The glory of Durga is described in Markendeya Purana,. It is known as Devi Mahatmyam or Durga Sapta sati  (700 Mantras). Allegorical representation of the constant war going on within all of us--- between our divine and demonic natures. In the Saptasati legend   every dominant passion and vice has its special Demon representative. Shumbha is the embodiment of Lust, Nishumbha is Greed and Mashishasura represents Anger.

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