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
First three days
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
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
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
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.