The season of festivities continues with the commencement of Navratri. “Nava-ratri” literally means “nine nights.” The festival is observed twice a year – once in the summer and once at the onset of winter. In the latter, we conclude the nine days on the tenth day which is known as Dashami. It is on the Dashami day that we celebrate Dassera.
Why twice a year?
The beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn have always been considered to be important junctions when it came to climatic and solar influences. Why we celebrate twice a year at the start of the new seasons is because it is way to thank the divine power for maintaining the balance of the Universe. With the seasonal changes it is normal for changes to occur not just in the nature around us, but also within the minds and bodies of the people. People worship the divine to bestow upon us power, strength and courage to overcome these changes and be able to maintain the physical and mental balance.
The legends say
Like most festivals of India have significance attached to it, so does Dussera. In the Hindu mythology, the festival indicates the victory Goddess Shakti (Maa Durga) over demon Mahishasura. Mahishasura was an asura who wanted invincible power after being granted a boon by Lord Shiva and he started killing innocent lives in order to won absolute control over the Lokas. The Gods decided to use their divine powers to create a supreme warrior. Maa Durga entered a war with Mahishasura, which lasted for nine long days. She finally overpowered the asura on the tenth day.
Praying on Navratri
Maa Durga, the goddess who symbolizes Shakti is prayed to and her blessings are invoked through the nine days of prayers and celebrations. Navaratri is divided into sets of three days – on the first 3 days, prayers are made to Goddess Durga and we invoke her blessings to destroy all our impurities, and vices that make us weaker. On days 4-6, the Goddess of Wealth is prayed to and we invoke blessings of spiritual wealth within us that make us compassionate, thoughtful and kind towards everyone. The last three days are spent worshipping the goddess of learning, Maa Saraswati. We invoke blessings from her have all-round success in life.
It is believed that these three goddesses bring forth power and protection when prayed to and three days and nights are given to each goddess to invoke their blessings. The dates are decided according to the Lunar Hindu calendar and on each day of the Navratri, women follow tradition a tradition of wearing nine colours of dress on Navratri.
Understanding beyond the festival
Just like this is a festival that symbolizes the good over evil, it is symbolic that we fight over the evils that reside within us. The fasting for nine days is also a way of abstaining from a vice every day. At the end of the nine days we celebrate Dussehra or Vijayadashmi – the victorious tenth day where we have strived and worked towards staying away from vices that make us weaker as people. This festival be victorious over your vices and let it be a start to journey that is righteous.
Have you read our post from the last year on what Dussera is all about? Click here to read more.
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