Sunday, September 27, 2009

The significance of Navaratri


After Sandeep Chaitanya’s explanation of the Bhagawatam on Doordarshan, through various episodes and in a very enjoyable and elementary style, the School of Bhagwad Gita has now made a mark as a reference point for all things spiritual in Hinduism. Many times, we celebrate festivals without really knowing what it is all about. Here is a simple explanation from the School of Bhagwad Gita, about Navaratri or the Festival of the Nine Lights. Makes for very interesting reading indeed:

Every Hindu festival has a spiritual message for the sadhaka. This nine-day festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil. In fact, the theme of the entire Vedas is reflected in the Navaratri festival: first remove all negativities; then purify the mind and cultivate
positive virtues; and finally gain spiritual knowledge and transcend all limitations.

Nava means nine and ratri means night. During these nine nights the Mother Goddess is worshipped in her variously manifested forms as Durga, Laxmi and Saraswati.

On the first three nights Durga is invoked for her strength and ferocity which are required to cut out from the mind it's strong rooted, deep-seated negative tendencies.

Goddess Laxmi is (then) worshipped on the next three nights. She is invited to bring in her wealth of noble values to nourish and purify the cleansed mind. Finally Goddess Saraswati is invoked on the last three nights to bestow the Higher Knowledge of the Self-possible only after cleansing and purification have taken place.

With the dawn of spiritual wisdom the little ego is destroyed. This destruction is commemorated on the 10th night with (by) the burning of an effigy. This 10th day is called Vijayadashmi (Vijaya-victory, dashmi-ten); or Vidhyarambha (Vidhya-wisdom, knowledge, rambha- joy) Victory Day or the Joy of Enlightenment respectively.

At Navaratri time the Rasa (dance of joy) of Shree Krishna and the Gopis is also performed. As the mind becomes purer, calmer quieter, a greater understanding of the nature of the Inner Self is revealed, giving rise to joy and happiness which is expressed in this dance of Realisation. Why is the Navaratri Festival celebrated at night? The spiritual message of night-time worship is that "you have lived long enough in the sleepy realm of tamas, it is time to get up now. Please, wake up!!"

Picture shows a typical Navaratri or Bommai Kolu. Usually, there is a series of steps and an arrangement of dolls, with Tamil women vying with one another to come out with the best looking kolus. The dolls depict gods and villages scenes. It provides women yet another opportunity to meet and gossip, share snacks and go home with sundal, coconut and other goodies. The kolu here was arranged by Jayashree.

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