Tuesday October 17, 2017

Dazzles Of The 9 Divine Nights: Navratri

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Image source: www.maavaishnavi.com

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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Are We Hindus If We Live in India? The Answer to Contentious Question is Here

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Hinduism. Pixabay

Oct 06, 2017: Have you ever wondered what being a Hindu means? Or who is actually fit to be called a Hindu? Over centuries, Hindus and Indians alike have asked this question to themselves or their elders at least once in their lifetime.

In the 1995 ruling of the case, “Bramchari Sidheswar Shai and others Versus State of West Bengal” the court identified seven defining characteristics of Hinduism but people are still confused to what exactly defines being a Hindu in the 21st century. It’s staggering how uninformed individuals can be about their own religion; according to a speech by Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya there are various common notions we carry about who a Hindu is:

  • Anyone born in India is automatically a Hindu
  • If your parents are Hindu, you’re are also inevitably a Hindu
  • If you believe in reincarnation, you’re a Hindu
  • If you follow any religion practiced in India, you’re a Hindu
  • And lastly, if you are born in a certain caste, you’re a Hindu

After answering these statements some fail to remove their doubts on who a Hindu is. The question arises when someone is unsure on how to portray themselves in the society, many people follow a set of notions which might/might not be the essence of Hinduism and upon asked why they perform a particular ritual they are clueless. The problem is that the teachings are passed on for generations and the source has been long forgotten, for the source is exactly where the answer lies.

Religion corresponds to scriptural texts

The world is home to many religions and each religion has its own uniqueness portrayed out of the scriptures and teachings which are universally accepted. So to simplify the dilemma one can say that determining whether someone belongs to a particular religion is directly related to whether he/she follows the religious scriptures of the particular religion, and also whether they abide to live by the authority of the scriptural texts.

Christianity emerges from the guidance of the Gospels and Islam from the Quran where Christians believe Jesus died for their sins and Muslims believe there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet. Similarly, Hinduism emerges from a set of scriptures known as the Vedas and a Hindu is one who lives according to Dharma which is implicated in the divine laws in the Vedic scriptures.By default, the person who follows these set of religious texts is a Hindu.

Also Read: Christianity and Islam don’t have room for a discourse. Hindus must Stop Pleasing their former Christian or Muslim masters, says Maria Wirth 

Vedas distinguishes Hindu from a Non-Hindu

Keeping this definition in mind, all the Hindu thinkers of the traditional schools of Hindu philosophy accept and also insist on accepting the Vedas as a scriptural authority for distinguishing Hindus from Non-Hindus. Further implying the acceptance of the following of Bhagwat Gita, Ramayana, Puranas etc as a determining factor by extension principle as well.

Bottom Line

So, concluding the debate on who is a Hindu we can say that a person who believes in the authority of the Vedas and lives by the Dharmic principles of the Vedas is a Hindu. Also implying that anyone regardless of their nationality i.e. American, French or even Indian can be called a Hindu if they accept the Vedas.

– Prepared by Tanya Kathuria of Newsgram                                                                

(the article was originally written by Shubhamoy Das and published by thoughtco)

One response to “Are We Hindus If We Live in India? The Answer to Contentious Question is Here”

  1. Hindu is a historical name for people living “behind the river Indus”. So, everyone living in India is a Hindu, eventhough he might have a different faith.

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Strange Rituals: Demon King Ravana is Worshipped on Dussehra

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Effigy of Ravana burns. Dussehra. Wikimedia

Sep 30, 2017: Vijayadashami or Dussehra is celebrated with fervor at the end of Navratri every year. The festival is observed by burning the puppet of King Ravana. While at some places, the celebration of good over evil is celebrated by burning effigy of the demon king, there are some places where Ravana is worshipped on this occasion. It is predisposed amongst the followers that all their wishes come true on this day.

Also Read: Ram and Ravana Have More In Common Than You Think: 5 Traits of the Anti-Hero Ravana That You Must Learn | Dussehra Special

Every year on Dussehra, the 125-year-old Dashanan temple in Shivala area of Kanpur is opened for its devotees. An idol of King Ravana is ornamented, and aarti is performed. Devotees perform religious rituals and light lamps to celebrate the festival. The temple remains closed following the burning of Ravana’s statue.

Dashanan Temple was constructed in 1890 by king Guru Prasad Shukl. The rationale behind the construction of Dashanan temple was Ravana’s adherence towards Lord Shiva.

King Ravana is worshipped at many places in India, for example: In Andhra Pradesh’s Kakinada, a huge shivalinga established by Ravana is revered along with the demon-king. Vidisha, a village in Madhya Pradesh is dedicated to King Ravana. In this village, the first wedding card invitation is sent to Ravana before the commencement of any celebration. Neither the devotees burn dummies of King Ravana, nor do they celebrate Dussehra.

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Celebration of the Devi Shakti : Maha Navmi | Worship Goddess Siddhidhatri on the Ninth Day of Navratri

Navratri is celebrated to honor and glorify the spirit of Goddess Durga, also known as the Devi Shakti inside us

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During Navratri celebrations, devout Hindus honor the existence, presence and power of the Devi Shakti. Pixabay

New Delhi, September 29, 2017 : The last eight days have witnessed immense zeal and fervor among devotees who got together to celebrate Sharad Navratri and honor the nine auspicious nights of goddess Durga. According to the Hindu dharma, there are four Navratris in one year; however, only two of them are celebrated in a magnificent way, one of them being Sharad Navratri. This year, the festival was observed from September 21– 29. Throughout the nine day festival, devotees observe ritualistic fasts, perform several pujas and offer bhog (holy food) to Goddess Durga in an attempt to gratify her.

Why do we celebrate Navratri?

‘Nav’ means ‘nine’ and ‘ratri’ means ‘night’. Thus, ‘Navratri’ means the festival of the ‘nine nights’.

Navratri is celebrated to honor and glorify the spirit of Goddess Durga, also known as the Devi Shakti inside us. It is popularly believed that this spirit alone can help us destroy all negative traits like obsession, pride and aversions.

By turning to the Devi during Navratri, and getting in touch with her spirit in us, devotees attempt to overcome these negative qualities and invoke positive tendencies.

Celebration of the Devi Shakti

Shakti translates to energy and the Devi (goddess) of Shakti in the Hindu dharma is revered as the primitive source of energy that maintains and sustains all forms on creation of the earth.

The Devi Shakti, or the feminine spirit, manifests itself in multiple forms, nine of which are worshiped during the Navratri.

Each form of the goddess encompasses and supplements traits such as strength, beauty, compassion, , power, fear and transformation. Thus, during Navratri celebrations, devout Hindus honor the existence, presence and power of the Devi Shakti.

Maha Navmi
Nine firms of the Devi Shakti are worshiped during the Navratri. IANS

The Different Avatars of Durga

The nine nights of Navratri celebrate and honor the nine different aspects of Mother Divine on each day, known as Nava Durga. These are,

  1. Maa Shailaputri
  2. Maa Brahmacharini
  3. Maa Chandraghanta
  4. Maa Kushmanda
  5. Maa Skandamata
  6. Maa Kathyayini
  7. Maa Kaalaratri
  8. Maa Maha Gauri
  9. Maa Siddhidhatri

Day 9 of Navratri : Maha Navmi

The ninth and the final day of worship before Vijaya Dashami is known as Navmi, also known as Maha Navmi. This marks the end of the Sharad Navratri.

ALSO READ Get Your Home Festive Ready for Dussehra and Diwali!

Spiritual Significance of Maha Navmi

According to the Hindu mythology, goddess Durga fought the king of demons, Mahishasur for nine consecutive days. The ninth day is the absolute day when the goddess’ power, righteousness, and wisdom won over the evil forces.

On this day, the ninth avatar of goddess Durga is worshiped – Maa Siddhidhatri.

Ninth form of Durga – Maa Siddhidhatri

It is believed that goddess Durga’s manifestation in his form happened upon entering the body of Lord Shiva and assuming the left half of it.

Maa Siddhidhatri sits on a red lotus and is also seen riding a lion at times. The goddess has a mace, conch, and a lotus in her four hands.

Ruling over the planet Ketu, Maa Siddhidhatri governs the minds of people and motivates them towards a disciplined and spiritual life. Devotees believe worshiping this avatar of goddess Durga leads them on a path of self-exploration and higher spiritual knowledge.

Maha Navmi
9 Forms of Durga. Pixabay

Goddess Siddhidhatri is believed to bring fulfillment and totality in every sphere of life, which is why devout Hindus celebrate the last day of Navratri to please and pray to the goddess.

Rituals of Maha Navmi

  • In many parts of North and East India, Kanya Puja or Kanjak is observed on Maha Navmi. Following the rituals, nine young girls are worshiped as the nine avatars of goddess Durga. Following the puja which includes chanting various mantras and lighting incense sticks, the kanjaks are fed food specially prepared for them. They are also presented with gifts as tokens of respect and love.
  • In eastern India, Maha Navmi is synonymous with the third day of Durga Puja. The celebrations begin with a holy bath and are followed by the Shodhasopachar puja. On this day, the goddess is worshipped in the avatar of the goddess who killed Mahishasur, Mahishasuramardini.
  • In several parts of Southern India, many children begin preparing for their academic year from this day.

ALSO READ Significance of Kanjak Puja in Navratri, What Each Age Group of Young Girls Depicts?

Color for the day : Purple

Navratri Ninth Day Maa Siddhidhatri Mantras

“Om Devi Siddhidatryai Namah”

and

“Om Devi Siddhidatryayi Namah Siddha Gandharva Yakshdyairasurairamarairapi

Sevyamaanaa Sadabhuyaat Siddhida Siddhidayini”