Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Indian Festival - Navrathri

Navrathri is a Hindu festival of worship of Shakti and dance & festivities. The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi are worshiped.
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Why is it celebrated?
* The beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn are two very important junctions of climatic and solar influence. These two periods are taken as sacred opportunities for the worship of the Divine Mother. The dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar. Navaratri represents celebration of Goddess Durga, the manifestation of Deity in form of Shakti [Energy or Power].
* Navaratri, the nine-day-and-night long festivity seems to have sprung out of a prevailing cult of personal austerities for a desired end dedicated to Shakti, the supreme female power.
Certainly not a one-time initiative or an individual mind's creation, Navaratri perhaps began as expression of an agitated mind unwilling to accept the prevailing exploitation of foreign invasions and rules. Navaratri found expression in Devi's diverse manifestations, each representing an aspect of divine energy, inspired by her confidence-generating acts against corruption and crime as enumerated in Devi-related texts, and imbibing its basic spirit - people's desire to regain what had been seemingly 'lost'. More importantly, the medieval mind seems to have embraced Navaratri as correction of the general attitude towards the girl child. Over the years, as the girl child or woman became victim of violence at the hands of intruders, she came to be seen as a 'curse', as someone who could irreparably dent family 'honour'. Hence, it became necessary to exalt her with dedication for nine days and nights, each celebrating the Devi's various divine forms. While most other festivals, religious or social, are annual features, Navaratri is celebrated several times in a year, perhaps to keep alive the spirit of social transformation that would restore to women the respect due to them.[Src:  ,]

When is it celebrated?
* Navaratri is celebrated five times a year. They are
1)Vasanta Navaratri (March - April)
2)Ashadha Navaratri (June - July)
3) Sharada Navaratri (Sep - Oct)
4) Paush Navaratri (Dec - Jan)
5) Magha Navaratri (Jan - Feb)
Of these, Vasanta Nararatri and Sharada Navaratri are important
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How is it celebrated?
* Navratri is divided into sets of three days to adore three different aspects of the supreme goddess or goddesses.
First three days - The goddess is separated as a spiritual force called Durga also known as Kali in order to destroy all our impurities.
Second three days - The Mother is adored as a giver of spiritual wealth, Lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees inexhaustible wealth, as she is the goddess of wealth.
Final three days - The final set of three days is spent in worshipping the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati. In order to have all-round success in life, believers seek the blessings of all three aspects of the divine femininity, hence the nine nights of worship
* Austerities dedicated to these three forms, representing tamas, rajas and sattva, three elemental constituents of the manifest cosmos, help a seeker transcend the perplexing diversity of manifest existence to ultimate union with the Supreme. This is Navaratri's higher spiritual perspective.
* Many people keep a 9 day fast in which they eat primarily - makhana, kuttu aata pooris and sabudaana khichdi. Of course, this is supplemented with fruits and dairy products.
* Celebrations of the festival vary across all parts of India. Refer
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