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Durga Puja Essay

Significance of an Indian festival by Lekha Nair

The word Navaratri means 'nine nights.' During Navaratri, we worship the goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati, in that order for three days each. The most important day is the 10th day, Vijayadashami. The word Vijayadashami means '10th day of victory.' I will tell you the significance of this festival.

We worship goddess Durga because she is shakti - strength. This is meant to help us think about our positive inner selves. We worship goddess Lakshmi because she gives wealth and prosperity. She basically symbolizes positive qualities that are useful for overcoming your negative qualities.

The reason we worship Saraswati is because she is the embodiment of knowledge. For this worship we put our books, musical instruments and anything that gives us knowledge on the platform before god to show our respect for these tools of knowledge.

The main significance of this kind of worship is that you should not let your bad side, or negative side, win. Have self-control using shakti. Then increase you positives by worshipping Lakshmi. Once your positive side wins you can take in knowledge with Saraswathi. Finally, you will become one with god. These are the different stages to attaining Moksha. This festival reminds us of this process.

The ninth day of Navaratri is the Ayudha Puja. This is the day we worship our tools and instruments, and other objects used in daily life because they help us achieve our goals.

On the 10th day, Vijayadashami, we celebrate vijay - victory. Durga killed the evil asura Mahisura which is a destruction of our negative selves. This the day for the learner. You must always think like a beginner, like you still have to learn much more, and only then will you have a mind open to new ideas. This day is good to begin endeavors. Little kids also try to start their education by writing a letter of the alphabet in grains of rice.

On Vijayadashami, I show gratitude to all my teachers by visiting them and learning something new. My music teacher always sets up something that looks like a set of stairs. She covers it in cloth and puts her dolls, statues and lights it up. This setup is called kolu. Women exchange gifts of sweets, coconuts, and clothing to show the spirit of sharing and goodwill. Other things people will do are fruit and milk fasts, mantra chanting (also known as japa) dedicated to Devi in her different forms.

Vijaydashami is also called Dussehra to celebrate Rama's victory over Ravana - a triumph of good over evil. Large statues of Ravana and other demons are burned at night and there are fireworks.

A Durga Meditation by the Ganna Chakra

Wherever you are, imagine the form of Durga coalescing out of your surroundings - out of the sky, earth, furnishings, drawing crackling strands of electricity out of nearby power sockets, a corona of energy about her. Visualise the form of Durga forming above you. Feel her feet upon your head, sending shockwaves of power through your body, and imagine yourself to be seated on the back of her tiger. Feel the power of Durga coursing through you and meditate upon her qualities.

The weapons which Durga bears (given to her by the gods) can be taken, in this meditation, as 'attachments' - things which you think you need; tools which you perhaps rely too much on. As Durga defeated Mahisa by herself, so too, your power and poise resides in you, rather than your tools and attachments.

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