Navaratri - October 1st thru October 10th
Navaratri, one of the most sacred and joyous festivals in the Hindu world, begins this Saturday and continues for the next nine nights and ten days.
Navaratri symbolizes the triumph of good over evil and is observed through fasting, prayer, worshipful offerings and communal song and dance. It is a celebration of the power, fertility, strength, beauty, purity, courage and wisdom of the Divine Mother—the feminine aspect of God embodied in the supreme goddess, Durga.
Durga’s name translates from the Sanskrit as the “invincible one” and “remover of all miseries”. According to Hindu Mythology, Durga bravely slew the demon Mahishasura, who was terrorizing the universe with all manner of wickedness: violence, selfishness, and arrogance. Her heroic action freed us to peacefully pursue happiness, success and a higher awareness free of the bonds of ego. Durga epitomizes sacrifice, salvation and the countless other noble attributes of motherhood, which are represented by the many different avatar goddesses (or Devis) through which she appears. The word Nava-ratri itself means "nine nights”, and each night of the festival is dedicated to honouring a goddess presenting a different facet of Mother Durga.
And, as Durga is also considered the unified representation of the Tridevi—the trinity of the goddesses Parvati, Lakshmi and Saraswati—the blessing of each of these goddesses are invoked individually for three nights during Navaratri. The first three nights are dedicated to Parvati, who instills in us the indomitable strength of her divine love and devotion. The next three nights are devoted to Laskshmi, the goddess of spiritual and material prosperity, who bestows inexhaustible wealth upon her devotees. The final three nights of the festival belong to Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and arts, who leads us to wisdom and higher consciousness.
Mother Durga is often referred to as Devi Shakti, the manifestation of the divine female energy through which the universe was created and is sustained, an energy that defies the cycle of birth and death, that defies time itself—the cosmic energy that animates the universal life force and illuminates every soul with eternal consciousness.
Weather we celebrate Navaratri or not, this nine-night period is a goddess-given opportunity to reflect upon the beauty, strength and sacrifice symbolized by motherhood; to remember our own mothers and thank them for all they have given us and helped us to achieve.