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Sharadiya Navratri – the significance of the festival of Nine Nights

The Nine Nights of Goddess Shakti

India has a rich heritage and an enthralling historic background with a plenty of festivals and cultural events lined up all through the year. And, behind each Indian festival there lies a great historic background and meaning, though, religious rituals, playfulness and merriment are the constituents that primarily create a festive mood. Among many such colourful, vibrant festivals is Navratri – the festival dedicated to the Goddess Shakti and her divine powers – the festival of Nine Nights.

In the Indian languages of Hindi and Gujarati, the word “Nav” stands for the number 9, and the word “Ratri” stands for the Nights – thus, literally getting translated to the ‘Nine Nights. Navratri is one of the significant festivals celebrated by the Hindus the world over. As per the Hindu Calendar, Navratri is celebrated twice in a year. However, the Sharadiya Navratri, celebrated around the Sharad ritu or before Dussehra festival is the one that is celebrated with great fervour and splendour.

In the Indian state of Gujarat and Maharashtra, this much loved festival is taken pretty literally, as people take to dancing, amusement and gaiety for all the Nine Nights and even on Sharad Poornima that falls about two weeks after Dusshera. Irrespective of their religion, people in these colourful states dress up in their festive-finery and join steps to dance to the beats of Garba (Gujarat’s folk dance) and Dandiya (another popular Indian folk dance that involves the use of wooden sticks as dance props).

In many other Indian states too, this festival takes on different forms, and is celebrated with great reverence and enthusiasm, like in West Bengal, where Durga Pooja is celebrated during the latter 5 days of this festival. Dussehra is called as the Vijaya Dashmi in West Bengal, Orissa and North Eastern states of Assam and Sikkim.

Durga, who is considered the Hindu deity of Power (or Shakti). Similar to many other Indian festivals, Navratri also has a deep meaning linked to it. Different forms of Goddess Durga are revered through the 9 nights, which explains why Navratri is one of the most significant festivals of the Hindus.

This time of the year is also considered very auspicious, and people tend to begin new events and buy new clothes, vehicles etc. during this time. Hindu devotees all over the world pray, fast and offer satvik delicacies to Brahmins, during this time.

Bring home a Siddh, worshipped and attuned Meru Prusth Shree Yantra to your home during this pious time of Navratri. This beautiful, 3 dimensional Yantra is representation of the Goddess Lakshmi herself.

There many legends and myriad stories that surround these 9 Nights, and one of the popular explanations on the significance of each of these nights is given below –

Goddess Durga is worshipped in the initial 3 nights of Navratri. During this period, the power and energy of Goddess Durga is adored. Each night is dedicated to a different form of Goddess Durga. On the 1st night of the festival, Goddess Kumari is worshipped, who stands for the girl child. On the 2nd night of this festival, Goddess Parvati is worshipped, who is the incarnation of a young woman. All the evil inclinations are defeated through the committed destructive aspects of Goddess Durga. Thus, Goddess Kali is worshipped on the 3rd night of Navratri, who signifies the woman who has arrived at the level of maturity.

A person experiences an emptiness (vacuum) when he/she obtains victory over evil inclinations of anger, lust, ego, jealously, hatred etc. This vacuum is filled with spiritual understanding through the worship of Goddess Lakshmi through the 4th, 5th and 6th night of Navratri. Moreover, the worship of Goddess Lakshmi is believed to bring in wealth – both spiritual and worldly and peace along with prosperity. Thus, very rightly Goddess Lakshmi is regarded as the Goddess of peace and prosperity. After achieving victory over evil inclinations and gaining spiritual understanding, still the person thirsts for knowledge. As knowledge is the key to live as a human with absolute harmony with men and nature, thus, Goddess Saraswati is worshipped on the 5th night of Navratri for the attainment of knowledge. All literary materials including books are brought in one place and a earthen lamp (diya) is lit in front of the Goddess and a puja (worship) is carried out, to call forth the goddess and obtain her grace. Also, the students won’t study till the time the books are kept in the place of puja (worship).

The 7th night of Navratri is devoted for the adoration of Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge and art. With an aim to obtain spiritual knowledge, prayers are offered to this gentle Goddess. On the 8th Night, also called as Durga Ashtami (specifically in Bengal) a ‘yagna’ is carried out by the devotees. This includes an offering, which is prepared out of ghee (clarified butter), kheer (aka rice pudding) and sesame seeds. In this way, Goddess Durga is revered, and is also bid her farewell for the year, before she comes yet again.

The concluding night of Navratri (i.e. 9th night) is also known as the ‘Mahanavami’. On this concluding night of Navratri, Kanya puja is carried out to honour 9 young girls, who still haven’t attained puberty, in most Indian homes. One of the nine forms of Goddess Durga is represented by these 9 girls. To welcome the Goddess and revere her, the feet of these 9 girls are washed. At the end of the puja, devotees offer a gift (normally a set of new clothes) to these girls. In Northern India, this day is also celebrated as Ram Navami, associations of which are found in Ramayana.

A two-dimensional, gold-plated Shree Yantra may also be bought and instituted at your place of worship, during this fortunate and sacred time. This Yantra and its regular worship shall safeguard your home and family from all negative influences.

Navratri is a special occasion. A time for new beginnings and offering your dedication and reverence to the Goddess Shakti. This Navratri, bring home and institute a Meru Prusth Shree Yantra – a beautiful, divine symbol of the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi herself.

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With Ganesha’s Grace,
The GaneshaSpeaks Team