Saturday January 20, 2018

Dazzles Of The 9 Divine Nights: Navratri

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Image source: www.maavaishnavi.com
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By Shreya Panchal

AT A GLANCE:

  • Symbolizing the triumph of positivity over negativity “Navratri”, means 9 nights in ancient Sanskrit language.
  • This is a festival that is celebrated  with zeal, fervor and festivity twice in a year, once at the onset of the winters and once in the beginning of the summer  by the Hindu community all over the world.
  • This 9 days are solely dedicated to the Goddess Durga/Adhya Shakti and during this 9 nights the 3 incarnations of Goddess Durga i.e. Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are invoked.

WHY IS NAVRATRI CELEBRATED TWICE IN A YEAR?               

  • Every year, the onset of summer and winter are two vital junctures of solar influence and climatic change. Hence this 2 junctures have been chosen as the best opportunities for the worship of the Divine Power because..
  • Due to climatic change and some other changes in the nature, there is a considerable change in the minds and bodies of the people hence we worship the divinity to bestow upon us the potent powers balance our body and mind.
  • Since we believe that the divine power bestows the energy for the earth to revolve around the sun causing necessary changes in the outer nature and hence the divine power must be thanked for maintaining the correct balance of this whole universe.

HISTORY:

There are many myths and enthralling legends hitched on to the history of Navratri :

  • The demon Mahishasur, caused grave terror and destruction after the god of fire Agni bestowed him with a boon that he wouldn’t be killed by any weapon bearing masculine names. Lord Shiva advised the Gods to invoke the Adhya Shakti. With the god’s prayers, a divine luster came up from Lord Shiva’s heart and from the bodies of other Gods was emerged the Goddess Shakti.

The gods gave her lion as a vehicle, ornaments and arms to fight the demon Mahishasur. She fought him for 9 long days and nights and resulted in defeating and beheading Mahishasur on the tenth day which is called the Vijayadashmi.

  • Against the wishes of King Daksha, Sati (Parvati) married Lord Shiva. King Daksha organized a lavish Yagna and invited all the gods and saints except Lord Shiva, as a revenge. Sati decided to attend the Yagna organized by her father, despite of a denial from Lord Shiva. However, the King publically abused Lord Shiva and neglected his daughter’s presence. Sati committed suicide by jumping into the Yagna as she was not able to bear the insults by her father. It is said that Sati was reborn and won Lord Shiva again as her groom and every year it is believed that during Navratri she visits her paternal home along with her 4 kids Ganesha, Kartikey, Saraswati and Lakshmi.

WHY 9 NIGHTS?        

  • Navratri is divided into sections of 3 days to adore 3 different incarnations of Goddess Shakti. On the first 3 days, the Goddess is invoked as the powerful Durga to eradicate all our vices, defects and impurities. The next 3 days, the Goddess is invoked as Lakshmi, the donor of spiritual wealth and on the last 3 days the Goddess is invoked as Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom.

CULTURE AND ATTRACTIONS:

  • The famous dance form of Gujarat, Garba is performed on all the 9 nights of Navratri .It is also includes the raas play with Dandiya which uses small wooden sticks. Stories of Lord Krishna’s relationship with the Gopis often make way to the ras-garba music.
  • Garba is the dramatization of the prolonged battle between Mahishasur and the Goddess Shakti and was used to educate people about the event in the past. However, now Garba has become a social event and people team up to enjoy the festival. It is not uncommon to find Garba dancers with lit flames or swords and other varieties in their dance forms. The traditional Garba music is acoustic and the dance steps are simple.
  • At the center point of every Garba circle is the small Goddess Shrine which is erected and is called the GARBO. It includes the earthen pot, in which a silver coin, coconut and a betel nut is placed. People begin to dance in a circle performing Garba around this Shrine.
  • People wear colorful costumes which are lively and bright. Women prefers Ghaghara Choli along with traditional ornaments. Men may choose to wear traditional kurta with sparkling mirror work.

RITUALS PERFORMED DURING NAVRATRI:

  • WORSHIPPING A VIRGIN GIRL:

During this festival, a virgin girl is worshipped for 9 days and is offered meals as well. During this the unmanifest energy in the girl gets activated since a virgin girl is symbolic of unmanifest energy thereby attracting the radiant frequencies from the universe.

  • PERFORMING GARBA:

Performing Garba, according to Hinduism means to sing devotional hymns invoking Goddess Shakti with rhythmic clapping. The Goddess Shakti awakened by the rhythm of 3 claps through the frequencies of action, desire and knowledge.

  • CONTINUOUS BURNING OF THE SACRED LAMP:

During Navratri, lamp is kept lit for all the 9 days. It reduces the negative energies around, the spiritual purity increases and the embodied soul benefits due to radiant vibrations emanating out of the lamp.

  • FASTING:

6 basic vices gets reduced

  • OFFERING NAIVEDYA TO THE GODDESS:

During Navratri, it is customary to prepare spiritually pure dishes for Goddess Shakti. Dishes like plain curry from yellow lentils and sweets are made from jaggery and chickpeas.

CONCLUSION:

  • Garba circle takes on a spiritual power, keeping aside traditions and religion. Many of the songs start very slow and gradually speeds up sending the dancers to the state of trance especially when the dance and the music both are in their rawest form. Just imagine a circle or many concentric circles moving around the central showcase of the universal creative force and the mandala of the energetic potential being unleashed.

Shreya is a computer engineer, a coffee enthusiast, a voracious reader, trying to track culture, trends, ideas and people. Twitter: @newplanet29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12 Interesting Facts About Somnath Temple Probably You Didn’t Know

The Somnath Temple is popular due to various legends connected to it. The place is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot.

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Somnath Temple is located in Veraval on the western coast of Gujarat, India. Wikimedia Commons
Somnath Temple is located in Veraval on the western coast of Gujarat, India. Wikimedia Commons
  • Somnath Temple is believed to be the place where Lord Krishna ended his Lila and thereafter left for heavenly abode
  • The first Siva temple at Somanath is believed to have been built at some unknown time in the past
  • Gujarat was raided by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024, plundering the Somnath temple and breaking its sacred jyotirlinga

Somnath Temple is a specimen of fine architecture of one of the 12 Jyotirlingas Shrines of Shiva. This place is believed to be the place where Lord Krishna ended his Lila and thereafter left for heavenly abode, therefore it is dubbed as Eternal Shrine. This legendary temple has been vandalized numerous times in the history but with the help of some Hindu Kings, the temple was reshaped each time.

Somnath Temple is located in Veraval on the western coast of Gujarat, India. The temple is popular due to various legends connected to it. The place is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot. Lord Shiva has a strong connection here and also known as shrine eternal.

Somnath Temple History

According to popular tradition, the first Siva temple at Somanath is believed to have been built at some unknown time in the past. The second temple has been built at the same site by the “Yadava kings” of Vallabhi around 649 CE. In 725 CE, Al-Junayd, the Arab governor of Sindh destroyed the second temple as part of his invasions of Gujarat and Rajasthan. In 815 CE, the Gurjara-Pratihara king Nagabhata II constructed the third temple, a huge structure of red sandstone.

Also Read: Top 10 Famous Hindu Temples of Tamil Nadu

The Chaulukya (Solanki) king Mularaja possibly built the first temple at the site sometime before 997 CE, even though some historians believe that he may have renovated a smaller earlier temple.

Somnath Temple Attacks

Gujarat was raided by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024, plundering the Somnath temple and breaking its sacred jyotirlinga. Ghazni took away the wealth of almost 20 million dinars. As per historical records, the damage to the temple by was quite negligible because there are records of pilgrimages to the temple in 1038, which has no much mention of any damage to the temple.

In14th century, Gujarati Muslim pilgrims were noted by Amir Khusrow to stop at that temple to pay their respects before departing for the Hajj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons
In14th century, Gujarati Muslim pilgrims were noted by Amir Khusrow to stop at that temple to pay their respects before departing for the Hajj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons

But claims are there that Mahmud had killed 50,000 devotees who tried to defend the temple. The temple at the time of Ghazni’s attack appears to have been a wooden structure, which is said to have decayed in time.

According to an inscription of 1169, Kumarapala rebuilt it in “excellent stone and studded it with jewels,”

Also Read: Angkor Wat: History behind Cambodian Hindu temple

Then in 1299, the Somnath Temple was invaded by Alauddin Khalji’s army, led by Ulugh Khan. They defeated the Vaghela king Karna and sacked the Somnath temple. Legends state that the Jalore ruler Kanhadadeva later recovered the Somnath idol and freed the Hindu prisoners, after an attack on the Delhi army near Jalore. However, some other sources state that the idol was taken to Delhi, where it was thrown to be trampled under the feet of Muslims.

The Somnath Temple was rebuilt by Mahipala I, the Chudasama king of Saurashtra in 1308 and the lingam was installed by his son Khengara sometime between 1331 and 1351.

In14th century, Gujarati Muslim pilgrims were noted by Amir Khusrow to stop at that temple to pay their respects before departing for the Hajj pilgrimage.

In 1395, the temple was again destroyed for the third time by Zafar Khan, the last governor of Gujarat under the Delhi Sultanate and later founder of Gujarat Sultanate.

In 1546, the Portuguese who were based in Goa attacked ports and towns in Gujarat including Somnath Temple and destroyed several of its structures.

Somnath temple to Dwarka

Dwarka is an ancient city in the Indian state of Gujarat. It is very near to Somnath temple and due to its relevance to Hindu pilgrimage; people do tend to visit this place also.

Also Read: The Temple of Death: The Abode of Yamraj

The magnificent Temple of Dwarka has an elaborately tiered main shrine, a carved entrance and a black-marble idol of Lord Krishna.

Somnath Temple said to have been safely hiding the famous Syamantak Mani within the hollowness of Shivalinga. Wikimedia Commons
Somnath Temple said to have been safely hiding the famous Syamantak Mani within the hollowness of Shivalinga. Wikimedia Commons

The road distance between Dwarka and Somnath is 231 km and the aerial distance from Dwarka to Somnath is 210 km. One can also cover the distance through train which is almost 398km distant.

Here are some facts that are attached to this sacred and architecturally marvellous temple.

  1. The present-day Somnath Temple was built in five years, from 1947 to 1951 and was inaugurated by then President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad.
  2. Somnath Temple said to have been safely hiding the famous Syamantak Mani within the hollowness of Shivalinga, the Philosopher’s stone, which is associated with Lord Krishna. The stone is said to be magical, which was capable of producing gold. It is also believed that stone had alchemic and radioactive properties and thus it remains floating above the ground.
  3. The temple finds its reference in the sacred texts of Hindus like Shreemad Bhagavat, Skandpuran, Shivpuran and Rig-Veda. This signifies the importance of this temple as one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in India.
  4. According to records, the site of Somnath has been a pilgrimage site from ancient times as it was said to be the junction of three rivers, Kapila, Hiran and the mythical Saraswati. The meeting point was called as Triveni Sangam and is believed to be the place where Soma, the Moon-god bathed and regained his lustre.
  5. According to Swami Gajanand Saraswati (a Hindu scholar), the first temple was built 7, 99, 25,105 years ago as derived from the traditions of Prabhas Khand of Skanda Puran.
  6. The temple is said to be located at such a place that there is no straight-line land between Somnath seashore till Antarctica continent. In a Sanskrit inscription, found on the Arrow-Pillar called Baan-Stambh is stated that the temple stands at a point on the Indian piece of land, which happens to be the first point on land in the north to the south-pole on that particular longitude.

    The saga of Somnath temple is related to moon god and curse of his father in law Daksha Prajapati. Wikimedia Commons
    The saga of Somnath temple is related to moon god and curse of his father in law Daksha Prajapati. Wikimedia Commons
  7. According to the text of Skanda Purana, the name of Somnath Temple will change every time the world is reconstructed. It is believed when Lord Brahma will create a new world after ending the one we are living, Somnath will acquire a new name of Pran Nath Temple.
  8. On the walls of Somnath Temple, the sculptures of Lord Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu can be seen.
  9. According to another reference in the Skanda Purana, there are about 6 Brahmas. This is the era of 7thBrahma who is called Shatanand.
  10. The flag mast on the peak of Somnath Temple is 37 feet long and it changes 3 times a day.
  11. The saga of Somnath temple is related to moon god and curse of his father in law Daksha Prajapati.
  12. Non-Hindus doesn’t require any special permission to visit Somnath Temple. The decision was taken in view of security issues.Now, pack your bags and begin your journey to one of the most the sacred places of India.