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The unified form (oneness) of
Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati The three main Goddesses of Hinduism: Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati represent the 'energy', or are the female embodiments of theh three forms of energy, that governs the process of the universe and the laws of nature: creation (represented by Saraswati, the female counterpart of Lord Brahma- the creator), sustenance (represented by Lakshmi, the female counterpart of Lord Vishnu- the sustainer) and destruction (for regeneration) (represented by Durga, the female couneterpart of Lord Shiva- the destroyer). Navaratri is divided into sets of three days to adore these three different aspects of the supreme goddess or goddesses. First three days Durga The goddess is invoked as a spiritual force called Durga also known as Kali in order to destroy all our impurities. On the first day of the Navaratras, a small bed of mud is prepared in the puja room of the house and barley seeds are sown on it. On the tenth day, the shoots are about 3 - 5 inches in length. After the puja, these seedlings are pulled out and given to devotees as a blessing from god. These initial days are dedicated to Durga, the Goddess of power and energy. Her various manifestations, Kumari, Parvati and Kali are all worshipped during these days. They represent the three different classes of womanhood that include the child, the young girl and the mature woman. Second three days Lakshmi The Mother is adored as a giver of spiritual wealth, Lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees inexhaustible wealth, as she is the goddess of wealth. During these days, Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of peace and prosperity is worshipped. On the fifth day which is known as Lalita Panchami, it is traditional, to gather and display all literature available in the house, light a lamp or 'diya' to invoke Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge and art. Final three days Saraswati The final set of three days is spent in worshipping the goddess of wisdom, Sarasvati. In order to have all-round success in life, believers seek the blessings of all three aspects of the divine femininity, hence the nine nights of worship. These final days belong to Goddess Saraswati who is worshipped to acquire the spiritual knowledge. This in turn will free us from all earthly bondage. But on the 8th day of this colourful festival, yagna (holy fire) is performed. Ghee (clarified butter), kheer (rice pudding) and sesame seeds form the holy offering to Goddess Durga. In South India, Sarasvati pooja is performed on the 7th day. Eight day is traditionally Durgashtami which is big in Bengal. The 9th day is Ayudha Pooja when everyone gives their tools of the trade -- pens, machinery, books, automobiles, school work, etc. a rest and ritually worships them. They start a fresh from the next day, the 10th day which is considered as 'Vijaya Dashami'. Many teachers/Schools in south India start teaching Kindergarten children from that day onwards. Students also pay homage to their respective teachers as they are considered the third god (Maathaa, Pitha, Guru, Daivam - Mother, Father, Teacher & God). On this tenth day of Navratri in October - the holiday of Dussehra or Dasara, an effigy of Ravana is burnt to celebrate the victory of good (Rama) over evil. The festival of Navaratri culminates in Mahanavami. On this day Kanya Puja is performed. Nine young girls representing the nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshiped. Their feet are washed as a mark of respect for the Goddess and then they are offered new clothes as gifts by the worshiper. This ritual is performed in most parts of the country. During Navratri, some devotees of Durga observe a fast and prayers are offered for the protection of health and prosperity. A period of introspection and purification, Navratri is traditionally an auspicious and religious time for starting new ventures. During this vowed religious observance, a pot is installed (ghatasthapana) at a sanctified place at home. A lamp is kept lit in the pot for nine days. The pot symbolizes the universe. The uninterrupted lit lamp is the medium through which we worship the effulgent Adishakti, i.e. Sree Durgadevi. During Navratri, the principle of Sree Durgadevi is more active in the atmosphere. Navratri is celebrated in a large number of Indian communities. The mother goddess is said to appear in 9 forms, and each one is worshipped for a day. These nine forms signify various traits that the goddess influences us with. The Devi Mahatmya and other texts invoking the Goddess who vanquished demons are cited. During the eight or ninth day, Kanya Poojan, where virgin girls who have not attained puberty are worshipped, occurs.