What is Navratri (Nav Durga)?
Navratri (Nav Durga) is a nine-day festival of Hindus to honor the Mother Goddess. This celebration occurs twice a year: first in the spring, during March/April, and then another in the fall, during September/October based on the lunar cycle (9.24.2011 to 10.04.2011). "Navratri is not just a time to celebrate and of joy but is to attain Everlasting happiness, Peace and Anandam (Bliss) through self-discipline, self-control, and sacrifice. It is Nine Days of Living in Mother Goddess Consciousness and Experiencing Her Grace. Love.
How do people celebrate the festival?
Different types of pujas and ceremonies are performed by different communities on each of the nine days. Many people (Hindus) observe fasting; eating only fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. They do specific sadhana, prayers, practice celibacy, and visit temples. Many temples, as well as people in their homes, offer special prayer programs with singing and music throughout the night, called "Jagran." On the final day, young girls up to age nine are worshipped as goddesses and given gifts as an offering of gratitude to mother goddess for her blessings. It is believed that at that age the girls have pure energy like mother goddess. In some parts of India, the idol of the Goddess Durga is immersed in the holy rivers on the tenth day (Dashehra).
What is the significance of Navratri (Nav Durga)?
The festival signifies the nine glorious aspects of the Divine Mother and is celebrated for nine days, not only in India but in many parts of the world.
Mother Goddess is also called Shakti, the energy of God. She is the energy of the Trinity, as the creative aspect of Lord Brahma, sustaining aspect of Lord Vishnu, and destructive aspect of Lord Shiva are all encompassed within Her.
The Divine Trinity of Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati together represent feminine energy that provides protection, love, prosperity, and knowledge to all their devotees. Goddess Durga is known to remove evil, misery, and pain from our lives. Goddess Lakshmi is the Goddess of Wealth and Goddess Saraswati is also known as the Goddess of Knowledge. Nav Durga is therefore a special time to worship and sing the glories of the Goddesses, and pray for good health, prosperity, purity of mind, love, peace, and Anandam/bliss. As large numbers of people pray during this time, the collective energy becomes very powerful and it is said that the prayers offered are often heard by the Goddesses.
Who is Durga Maa?
Durga Maa, the symbol of Pure Love, Pure Energy (Divine Shakti) and Light within (Jyoti).
Durga Maa,the Supreme Goddess, is a symbol of Pure Love, Courage (Shakti), Light within and Bliss. Sherepresents the power of the Supreme Being that preserves moral order and righteousness in the creation. The Sanskrit word Durga means fort or a place that is protected and thus difficult to reach. Durga, also called Divine Shakti, protects mankind from evil and misery by destroying evil forces such as selfishness, jealousy, prejudice, hatred, anger, and ego. She is referred to as Universal Mother and the mother of Ganesh. Sometimes she is also referred to as Parvati, Lakshmi, and Saraswati because she is also an incarnation of Saraswati or Lakshmi. She is also known as Maha-mayi (Great, Terrific) because she is a composite goddess of different elements of many Gods and Goddesses. Durga Maa is depicted as a warrior woman with eight hands carrying weapons of almost all the Devas, assuming mudras, or symbolic hand gestures, and riding a lion or a tiger.
A tiger symbolizes unlimited power. Durga riding a tiger indicates that She possesses unlimited power and uses it to protect virtue and destroy evil. She is usually shown wearing a red sari. The color red symbolizes action and the red clothes signify that She is always busy destroying evil and protecting mankind from pain and suffering caused by evil forces. Thus, Goddess Durga symbolized the Divine forces (Positive Energy) that are used against the negative forces of evil and wickedness. She represents pure energy (Positive), known as divine light or "Jyoti," and is the embodiment of feminine and creative energy. (Divine Shakti)
How did Durga Maa come into existence?
Durga Maa was created by Lord as a warrior Goddess to protect good people (devtas) by fighting the demon by Lord Vishnu. According to legend, since only a woman could kill the demon, the Lord bestowed energy upon Uma/Parvati, the wife of Shiva, transforming her into the Goddess Durga. She was given blessings by the lord in the form of weapons and emblems (mudras) in order to protect.