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When the Divine Manifests in the Feminine Form-Significance of Navaratri

Navaratri festival is my favorite festival, celebrated all over India with great enthusiasm and splendor though each region has a story.

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After the monsoons and before the onset of winter, is autumn which heralds the beginning of the celebration of the festival of Navaratri in India. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm and gaiety all over the country, though each part has a different tradition and custom associated with the festival. The focus of the festivities is the worship of the Mother goddess. Lore has it that the demon Mahishasura could not be vanquished on account of a boon he had received that no male god could defeat him. So the divine manifested into the female form as Shakthi or Durga and fought with the demon for nine days and eventually destroyed him on the tenth day. This day is celebrated as Vijayadashami, the day of victory of the mother goddess over the demon Mahishasura.

The Navaratri festival is also believed to bring in the light of knowledge to dispel the darkness of ignorance. As Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, ignorance is the cause of suffering for humanity. The first three days are dedicated to the worship of goddess Durga, destroyer of inertia, the next three days to goddess Lakshmi to overcome passion, and the last three days to goddess Saraswathi, to signify the pure aspect of nature.

when-the-divine-manifests-in-the-feminine-form-significance-of-the-navaratri

Invocation of Durga

The festivities start with the Invocation of Durga first. This Goddess is described in ancient literature as a powerful form of shakti, the feminine divine energy, that vanquished demons who terrorized the devout during those times. An analogy to human beings who are home to negative forces like desire, passion, greed, and so on which need to be overcome. Hence the mother is invoked and in doing so we invoke our own power to destroy those harmful forces.

The Next Stage

The next stage is the practice of sadhana through Laxmi Puja. She is the goddess of prosperity, which is not to be understood in terms of material wealth and possessions alone but as including the divine wealth of love, kindness, patience, endurance, charity, non-violence and the like. With the cultivation of these qualities, the seeker is qualified for philosophical study, contemplation and meditation.

The Third Stage

The third stage is the invocation of Saraswathi, the Goddess of knowledge. This is the last and final stage in our spiritual endeavor. The Veena in her hand is symbolic of the music and melody that she creates. By invoking her one can manifest divinity and harmony with a well-integrated mind necessary for the study of scriptures, constant reflection, and meditation.

The Last Day

On the tenth day, Vijayadashmi day, the demon is vanquished, indicating transcendence of ego when we attain victory over our senses and attain moksha or transcendental tranquility. Vijaya means victory and Dashami means the tenth. The festival is celebrated to commemorate the Victory attained on the tenth day.

Other Legends

In certain other parts of the country, the festival Vijaya-Dashami is celebrated as the victory of the Nobel King Rama who was an embodiment of all the virtues and ideals of a perfect man, over the demon king Ravana when he abducts King Rama's wife. The ensuing battle between Rama and Ravana ends on the tenth day by Lord Rama killing Ravana. This day of victory of the noble king Rama is celebrated with great pomp and glory all over the country. The main event during these celebrations is the burning of effigies of Ravana.

Essence of Navaratri

Both adopt similar strategies for winning the war. In both cases, negative energies in the form of demons are defeated and the positive power of dharma is restored.

The depiction of the female form of divinity as Nava Durga-Nine female deities is not to be understood in their mere physical form but as manifestations of austerity, purity, calmness, courage, creativity, divinity, and benevolence. Further, the weapons in the hands of the deities allude to the sattvic powers of assimilation, coordination, discrimination, endurance, decisiveness, and resourcefulness to overcome the negative forces inherent in us like desire, lust, inertia, anger, gluttony, etc., which the demon Mahishasura represents.

We all have the capacity to do noble or terrible things. The side of the equation we end up on depends on our decisions, not on the condition in which we find ourselves

— IKIGAI

True Meaning of Vijayadashami

These battles between good and evil represent the internal conflicts that constantly trouble our mind and intellect. When good samskara or good qualities take precedence over negative thoughts and tendencies, we become noble and virtuous. To overcome vices like anger, ego, lust, attachment, we need to invoke our innate Devi Shakti, divine virtues. Like Durga and Rama, we need subtle weapons of spiritual wisdom, divine meditation, sattvic lifestyles to overcome impulsive, negative tendencies, and attain eternal peace and happiness.

The celebration of the festival of Vijayadashami every year is a reminder for us to make a paradigm shift from materialist living to spiritual consciousness, to overcome negative tendencies, and lead a life of truth and righteousness.

Divine Goddess as Laxmi

Divine Goddess as Laxmi

Ten Manifestations of Divine Energy

The ten different manifestations of divine energy are as follows:

Day 1-Shailaputri-The first day of the festival is the day of Shailaputri which literally means the daughter of mountains. Also known as Parvati, Bhavani, or Hemavathi, the daughter of Himavantha, the king of the Himalayas. She is the first of the Navadurgas, the manifestation of Shakti or Durga. She bestows strength courage and composure.

Day 2-Brahmacharini- Means one who practices severe austerities. She is blissful and endows us with happiness, peace, prosperity, and grace. She paves the way to emancipation or moksha by the recognition of our true nature that is infinity.

Goddess Saraswati

Goddess Saraswati

Day-3-Chandraghanta-This Goddess symbolizes peace, tranquility and, prosperity in life. She has a half-moon on her forehead which is in the shape of a ghanta or bell. She has a charming countenance, has a golden complexion, and rides a lion. She has three eyes and holds weapons in her ten hands. She is an apostle of bravery and has great strength to fight the demons. She manifests alertness. An embodiment of eternal vigilance against adharma or negative forces.

Day-4-Kushmanda- She is believed to have created the universe. She is portrayed as holding weapons, rosary, etc., in her hands and seen riding a lion. She is an embodiment of creativity. She leads us on the path of creativity and positivity, she is believed to improve health, confer wealth, and strength.

Day-5-Skandamata-She is the mother of Lord Karthikeya, the war god, also called Skanda, who was chosen by gods as the commander-in-chief in the war against the demons. She is believed to look after the whole universe like her own child. She is also worshipped in the form of Parvati, Maheshwari, or Mata Gowri. She is an epitome of compassion, courage, skills, and innocence.

Day-6-Katyayani-She was born to the great sage Kata who performed great austerities and penance to invoke the mother goddess as he wished to have a daughter in the form of the goddess. The mother goddess granted his wish and Katyayani was born as an avatar of Durga. She is believed to lead us to develop healthier relationships.

Goddess Kali

Goddess Kali

Day-7-Kalaratri-She has a dark complexion and hair untied. Her posture is fearless. Her large red eyes, open red tongue, and weapon in hand to demolish demons and monsters are awe-inspiring. She is named Kalaratri because she represents death or Kaal, who appears like a dark night for demons. Her very appearance invokes fear. She is a dynamic form of the divine in deep rest form, waiting to gather strength to vanquish demons.

Day-8-Maha Gowri-She is the eight form of Devi Durga and one of the most graceful goddess among the Navadurgas. Her beauty glows like the gleam of a white pearl. She denotes peace and endurance. She is represented as having four arms, seated on a vrishabha or bull. She clears dregs from the heart of the worshippers. She is an embodiment of wisdom. Believed to help us to develop our intellect.

Day-9-Siddhidhatri-She is the goddess of spiritual and magical, and mystic powers. She is an embodiment of perfection and enlightenment. She is worshipped to attain fulfillment of desires, devotion and dedication, perfection, and positive energy.

Day-10-Vijayadashmi-Meaning victory on the tenth day. Celebrated to honor the victory of the mother divine over the evil demons. She is in celebratory attire with a splendid glow and aura about her. It is believed that anything that is started on this day brings success.

Kanya puja

Kanya puja

Kanya Puja

Kanya Puja is a holy ritual performed on the eighth or ninth day of the Navaratri Festival. Nine little girls representing nine forms of Goddess Durga are invited and worshipped. They are also offered food, sweets, and gifts. It is a way of paying gratitude to the supreme goddess and her nine different forms.

Attributes

https://cmwrc.chinmayadc.org

https://www.brahmakumaris.com

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 VIDYA D SAGAR

Comments

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on October 27, 2020:

Hi Linda, good to see you. Thanks for the visit and for your nice comments. I really appreciate it. There are very interesting aspects of the festivals celebrated here with so much fervor and splendor, I thought I would share the same with my friends on Hubpages. Moreover we often forget the essence of all these festivities. So this was a gentle reminder of it's significance too.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 27, 2020:

This is a very interesting article. I enjoyed learning about the goddesses and the aspects of life that they represent. Thank you for sharing the information.

Danny from India on October 27, 2020:

Yes you are right Vidya mam.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on October 27, 2020:

Hi Danny, good to see you, thanks for the visit and the nice comments. The feminine manifestation of the Divine has been well illustrated in our mythology and scriptures too. Stories of strong and brave women like Sita, Radha, Draupadi, Ahalya and many others from the legends continue to inspire us even today. It is said that civilizations where women are respected and revered have prospered immensely.

Danny from India on October 27, 2020:

Hi Vidya mam. I truly admire the feminine force which nourishes, sustains, and at time protects.

India is a land that worshipped Goddess energy and not only in India, but many civilizations have also depicted feminine energies in their art forms.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on October 26, 2020:

Hi Pamela, thanks for the visit and for your nice comments. I really appreciate it. I am glad you liked the article. During this festival, the goddesses are so beautifully decorated that it is a treat to our eyes. Each day has a different color and theme. The fervor and devotion with which this festival is celebrated and the festive atmosphere is so amazing, it made me want to share with my Hubpages friends.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 26, 2020:

Vidya, This was a very interesting article about this wonderful festival. The pictures of the goddess women are also so beautiful. Thank you for giving us all the this information that was new to me.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on October 26, 2020:

Hi Lorna, good to see you and thanks for the comments. The Navratri festival is a time for introspection and enlightenment for us too. The beautiful decorations of the nine dieties on nine days and the tenth day celebrations are all awe-inspiring and a joy to see. The people's devotion and dedication and the festive spirit is wonderful to experience.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on October 26, 2020:

Hi LakshmiPrabha, thank you for visiting and for the nice comments. We usually concentrate on celebrating festivals and overlook the true significance and meaning behind it. By overcoming negative thoughts and feelings, we can increase positive energy in ourselves and make life more meaningful which is the true essence of Vijayadashami.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on October 26, 2020:

Hi Prapulla, thanks for the visit and the comments. That's another beautiful aspect of Vijaya Dashami, the doll festival and the Mysore Dasara which I could not cover in this article. May be it will be an interesting topic for another article. We as youngsters used to love the doll festival, it was so much fun. As you mentioned we used to go to many houses to see the dolls. The actual incentive was the sweets and goodies that we used to get there.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on October 26, 2020:

Hi Savithri, thank you for the visit and the comments. Yes youngsters today like to know the science and reason behind everything, be it a festival or a tradition. Their usual questions ask are why should we do all this, what's the use of it and so on. They ought to know the significance of important festivals celebrated here.

Lorna Lamon on October 26, 2020:

This was such an enlightening read about this fascinating festival. I enjoyed the various stages and their meanings, along with the beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing Vidya.

LakshmiPrabha on October 26, 2020:

Very nice write up Vidya. Very well explained about the divine feminine Shakthis and ten different manifestations of divine energy. Its so knowledgeable. I wish eachone of us overcome negativity by virtous thoughts and deeds. Same you have well depicted in true meaning of Vjaya Dashami. Thanks for bringing in soo much knowledge about Navarathri in one article.

Prapulla on October 26, 2020:

Very nice article Vidya. In our childhood days we used to go to many houses asking bombe ittiddira . We used to dance and they gave bombe bagina like small chakli , unde etc. After reading your article I came to know about so many things. It’s really nice. The present generation will come to know the readon behind it . The present generation will ask for everything WHY we should do.

I will forward it to them so that they come to know the reason behind it. For each day wecan overcome each evil spirit in us.

Once again a very very nice article about dasara.

Savithri sreenath on October 26, 2020:

Very beautifully narrated. Our younger genaration must know all these things. Very good information.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on October 25, 2020:

Hi Radha, thanks for the visit and your kind comments. Yes I have always been fascinated by the Divine manifestation of the feminine energy or Devi Shakti ad we call it here. It is wonderful that this festival reminds us of the importance of this cosmic energy.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on October 25, 2020:

Thanks Pushpa for the visit and for your kind comments. Yes it is especially applicable to the youngsters today as most of them are not aware of the significance of the festivals here. They simply go with the flow to please the parents.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on October 25, 2020:

Thank you for the visit and the comments Flourish. Yes the fervor and the grandeur with which this festival is celebrated all over India made me ponder on the significance of it and the devotion and the dedication of the people. So I thought of sharing it with my dear Hubpages friends.

Radha Venugopal on October 25, 2020:

Wonderful narration!! Of our culture

Pushpa Murthy on October 25, 2020:

A must read for youngsters

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 25, 2020:

I liked that you described this so that people who have little knowledge of your culture or religion can understand it. I enjoyed reading it.