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
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