Nav-Ratri – The festival of nine nights is one of the most prominent festivals of Hinduism dedicated to chiefly Mother Durga an incarnation of Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. This is the most pious and pure time in the complete Hindu calendar. These nine nights are dedicated to the three main goddesses of Hinduism – Parvati, Lakshmi and Sarasvati.

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The first three nights are dedicated to the goddess of action and energy. Her different manifestations viz Kumari, Parvati and Kali are worshipped during these days. This goddess is  seen with four arms holding  a  Khadagh ( thick axelike sword ) on her top left,  a head of a  demon on her top right, a  trident on her bottom left and a vessel of blood on her bottom right  which she drinks. In another illusion she is also seen with ten arms holding various weapons.

She wears a garland of heads and a petticoat of arms.

There were so many demons and evil which took over earth and heaven that  big  corruption in the cosmos outraged  she became so angry that she turned black and her eyes turned red.. No god or goddess could do anything to calm her . Even the  great gods of the trinity Brahma and Vishnu were terified.

In this condition  all the gods and goddesses went to Lord Shiva who had a solution.

He lay down on the ground on which the big war of chaos had taken place where Kali was  slaying the demons. Kali misakingly tred on Lord Shivas corpse. She looked down and was so shoked that she pulled out her tongue and cried out  ‘ My Lord!’ shed made a big mistake by tredding on him. Lord shiva calmed the mother goddess

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Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped for the next three days in her various aspects as the goddesses of peace, plenty and bliss. Fulfillment is more important than wealth itself. As the goddess of wealth, Goddess Lakshmi bestows wealth, success and fame and fortune to her worshippers and devotees. The four hands of Goddess Lakshmi indicate that she has the power to bestow on humanity the four ends of human life. In one hand she holds a lotus flower – reminding us of ever-lasting life and the immortality of the soul. The other hand that holds another lotus symbolizes to us to detach ourselves from too much of the worldly power, position, considerations, etc. Another hand holds what symbolizes material wealth, prosperity which are to be used as a means / tools for the achievements or goal in life; while the other hand, the fourth one is shown open and pointing downward, showering wealth and reinforcing the message of sharing.

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On Lalita Panchami (the fifth day), children gather all the books in the house before a sacred lamp and invoke the blessings of Goddess Saraswati. It is also the occasion for all artisans to lay down their tools before the goddess and seek her benediction upon their trade. Goddess Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge. She is the goddess of the spiritual knowledge and the knowledge that frees us from this bind of this materialistic world. She is worshipped during the final three days of the Navratri.

On the eighth and ninth days of the festival, yagnas are performed as a final act of farewell that marks the termination of the ceremonies. Ghee or clarified butter, a sweet concoction of rice cooked in condensed milk (paayas or kheer) and sesame seeds are traditional items used in the yagna to the chanting of mantras conveying the theme-“This is my offering to God”.

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On the tenth day or Vijaya Dasami, more popularly known as Dussehra, enormous effigies of Ravana stuffed with firecrackers are torched with flaming arrows to the delight of throngs of revelers. It is also valued by devotees as an auspicious occasion to start an enterprise and for the business communities to open their annual books of account.

In northern India, on the tenth day (Dassera) giant effigies of Ravana. Kumbhakarna and Meghnad (Lord Rama’s enemies), are publicly burnt. But despite the various ways in which this festival is celebrated the feature that is common is that of the worship of the mother goddess.

The Naagrik Team wishes you all very Happy Navratri and Vijay Dashmi – the victory of Good over Evil.

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