Dhanteras also known as the festival of...
“Navaratri” means “nine nights” when Mother Goddess Shakti is worshiped. This festival is observed twice a year, once in the beginning of summer and again at the onset of winter.
What is the Significance of Navaratri?
Shiv is God & its energy aspect is Shakti. During Navaratri, we worship the energy aspect of God in the form of the universal mother, referred to as “Durga,” which means the remover of miseries of life. She is also referred to as “Devi” (Goddess) or “Shakti” (energy or power). It is this energy, which helps God to proceed with the work of creation, preservation and destruction.
Every year during the lunar month of Ashwin or Kartik (September-October), Hindus observe ten days of ceremonies, rituals, fasts and feasts in honor of the Supreme Mother Goddess. It begins with the fast of “Navaratri”, and ends with the festivities of “Dusshera” and “Vijayadashami.”
Why do we keep fasts during the Navaratri?
Navaratri comes twice a year during the month of March-April and September-October which is the change of season. The body is prone to various diseases, therefore it is advised to take light food or keep fasts.
Mother Goddess Shakti is worshiped in her various forms as Maha Durga, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati. Each of the three deities give rise to three more forms representing the finer meaning of each form. Hence in all, these nine forms are known as Navdurga.
Maha Durga: On the first three days of the festival Goddess Durga is worshiped in three forms: Shailputri, Brahmacharini and Chandraghanta. Durga represents the power that removes all evil tendencies. A human being cannot achieve anything if he has tamoguna. Tamoguna means laziness, darkness, ignorance and procrastination. Durga symbolises destruction of these evil tendencies and the vices which are desire, anger, greed, attachments, ego, and jealousy.
The three aspects Shailputri, Brahmacharini and Chandraghanta signify the qualities of determination, austerity and fearlessness respectively. These are essential to destroy the animalistic tendencies in the human being.
Maha Lakshmi: From third day to the sixth day of Navratri Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped in three forms: Kushmanda, Skandamata and Katyayani. Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, both material and spiritual. Lakshmi is always shown sitting or standing on a hundred petal lotus. It is symbolic of purity and detachment.
Lakshmi does not mean only material money, rupees or dollars. These are only representations. Real wealth is the purified mind. She signifies the purity of the mind to keep secure the Divine wealth. Unless one has the qualities of self-discipline, kindness, love, respect and sincerity, even the material wealth cannot stand by his side and in no time all the material wealth slips away.
Goddess Saraswati endows human beings with the powers of speech, wisdom and learning. Mother Saraswati symbolizes the Spiritual Knowledge. Knowledge of the Supreme is the ultimate goal of the human life. One can get the spiritual knowledge by the virtues of Lakshmi which is purity of mind. Satguru says, “Shudh antahakaran me hi Gyan tikta hai”. The most important thing to acquire knowledge is, surrendering to a Spiritual Master. Unless there is a Master there is no knowledge.
Supreme Knowledge is knowledge of the Self. One may have knowledge of many subjects and sciences like phonetics, economics, archery, astronomy etc, but if one does not know who he is and what is the ultimate goal of the human life then all other knowledge is considered to be useless. Upon surrendering to the Spiritual Master, He bestows us with the spiritual knowledge that leads to our soul evolution and then salvation.
Vijaya Dashami Representing Victory: All these nine days conclude to Vijaya Dashami or Dussehra, “The victory on the tenth day”. The day marks the victory of Goddess Shakti over the demons. This day also celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana. Vijaya Dashami signifies the victory of good over the evil. Ego goes and love prevails. “Aaj mann ki haar hui hai aur Guru ki jeet” .
When we understand the spiritual significance of Navratri, we just do not practice it routinely but each step holds a lot of meaning and purpose which opens our hearts and mind and can lead to our soul evolution.
Hare Krishna !!