Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Maa Durga & Navratri

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Navratri or Navratras (means "Nine Nights"), a Hindu festival of nine nights, is celebrated with devotion and love. It is colourful incorporating worship and prayer by song and dance of Goddess Durga (Maa Durga) who exists in many forms and is the manifestation of absolute energy that pervades the Universe.
For the devout these days are the sacrosanct for it is during these days when Goddess Durga takes a stock of her devotees and grants all blessings, removes ills and problems of her devotees.
The Motherhood of God
Navaratri is a festival in which God is adored as Mother. To celebrate a good harvest and to propitiate the nine planets, women also plant nine different kinds of food grain seeds in small containers during these nine days and then offer the young saplings to the goddess.
Celebrated Twice a Year
First Navratas - celebrated in the bright two-week period of Shukla Paksha of the lunar month of Ashwani, (September/October) from 1st to 9th date of the two week period.
Second Navratras - celebrated in the first nine days of the bright two-week period of Shukla Paksha of the lunar month of Chaitra, (mid-March to April).
Timing of the Navratras relate to autumnal and vernal equinox that is also the time when seasons change and crops are harvested which adds to the gaiety.
Those Nine Days
Navratri's each night is dedicated to one form of Goddess Durga. That is every ratri of the Navratri corresponds to worship of different forms of Maa Durga.
Some say these nine days are divided and devoted to the Trinity of God worshiped in the female form in which for three days each:
  1. Maa Durga (Goddess of valor) - Tamas
  2. Maa Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth) - Rajas
  3. Maa Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge and Art) - Sattva qualities are worshiped and surrendered to the respective devi's 

On the fifth day, that is, Lalita Panchami books are gathered; lamp lighted to invoke Saraswati.
The eighth and ninth day, Yagna (sacrifice offered to the fire) is performed to honour heavenly Goddess and bid her farewell.
This period of Navratri recitation of sacred scriptures, such as Devi Mahatmayam, (also known as Durga Saptashati, Sri Chandi or Saptashati) from Markanday Puran, is done:

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