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.
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.
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.
- 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.