A FESTIVAL OF NINE GRAND NIGHTS
India is a country of feasts and festivals, colors and joy and there is something or the other thing to be celebrated every month in some part or the other part of our vibrant country. While the month September is passing by the whole nation is gearing up for the divine festivity of Navratri. Jammu and Kashmir, the city of temples and home to one of the Holy Shrines known nation-wide-Vaishno Devi, is endowing the air in hues of red-the color of Durga.
This festival is dedicated to the worship of Holy Durga-a deity of Divine Forces and Power, and the festival goes on for nine nights,nava meaning nine and rati meaning nights. Each day is devoted to different deities-nine forms of Devi are worshipped during these nine nights and the tenth day is referred to as Vijaydashmi or Dussehra. Navratri is celebrated five times a year-Vasant Navratri, Gupta Navratri, Sharada Navratri, Paush Navratri, Magha Navratra and out of these Sharada Navratri and Vasanta Navratri are celebrated with a major zeal and participation. The nine Devis worshiped during this festival are-Durga, Bhadrakali, Amba, Annapoorna Devi, Sarvamangala, Bhairavi, Chandika, Lalita and Bhavani.
The festival in addition to its mythical significance which traces back to the roots of history has scientific and logical reasoning as well. These days are intended to invoke the energy aspect of God in the form of universal mother,broadly referred to as Durga (Shakti or Devi). More than Enjoyment and Celebration this festival is to evoke this energy for the earth to move around. Our worship digs the scientific notions of energy(Shakti/Durga) and this dedication is to rebuild that force of creation and preservation.
On the first three days the Mother is invoked as a powerful force called Durga to eliminate all our vices and impurities, the next three days the mother is adored as a giver of spiritual wealth,Lakshmi, to bestow her devotees and the concluding three days are devoted to goddess of wisdom,Saraswati.
The festival is celebrated in numerous different ways throughout the country, northern india celebrates the festival with much fervor fasting on all nine days and worshipping the Mother Goddess in varied ways. Garbha and Dandiya-raas nights accompanied with devotional songs are conducted during these days. Exquisitely crafted idols of Goddess Durga are decorated and are worshipped for five days and immersed in river on the fifth day in West Bengal. Decorations , devotional songs, navratri food, large gatherings of devotees-these nine days are days of zeal and ardor.
In north india the festive days are accompanied with the annual Ramlila performances for 9 days,each ending with a moral lesson on humankind and model virtues and the event concludes on the tenth day-Vijaydashmi i.e. victory over all vices and misfortunes.