|Travel India Guide|
In the Indian system of belief and worship, due importance is given to female aspect of divinity often referred to as Sakthi, premival form of energy.The nine day Hindu festival of Navaratri is associated with the worship of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Durga. The following are additional facts about Navaratri.
01. In the ancient days, the festival of Navaratri was held for the well being of the ruler, welfare of the people and the country.
02. The mythology of Mahishasuramardhini was quite prevalent in the southern states; it spread to Bengal and other places in the later years.
03. Narayana Suktham, Pursha Suktham, Vishnu
Sahasranamam, Garuda manthiram and Sudharsana manthiram are chanted in the form of japam all through Navaratri. People who engage themselves in such activities will break the hurdles and succeed in their lives.
04. During the reign of Mogul ruler Akbar, Dussehra became an important Hindu festival and the ruler encouraged it.
05. When Chandragupta Maurya was the ruler several centuries ago, sporting events such as testing courage and valor were part of Navaratri festival.
06. Navaratri festival has an advantage over the mental well-being of the women in the household. In the past, it gave them a chance to get rid of stress and mental depression. It is an occasion of rejoycing and celebration. During the festive period, part of time was spent in singing, engaging in prayer, puja and exchanging pleasantries with neighbors and so on and so forth.
07. In the past centuries, this nine day festival activities provided an opportunity for the parents of marriageable boys to select a prospective bride when they attended the functions. They could observe the girls' behavior, talents. skills and other traits. This way, countless marriages were fixed and later celebrated later in the month of Karthigai (October- November) or Thai (January or February).
08. On Friday, during the festival, orthodox people conduct Shodasa Lakshmi Puja with dedication and bakthi. It is believed, this will improve the welfare of the family and most importantly the financial base (Ayiswaryam).
09. In western and northern states, Navaratri festival is celebrated by way of enacting various episodes from the epic Ramayana. Ramlila is conducted in big maidans - playgrounds. The day of Dussehra marks the burning of effigies of demon ruler of Lanka Ravana, God Rama comes out victorious, thus driving the evil forces from the face of the earth.
10. In eastern states and West Bengal, Navaratri is associated with Durga Puja. Parasakthi takes the avatar of ferocious Durga with eight arms, carrying dangerous weapons. The purpose of her incarnation was to kill the evil minded demon (Asura) Mahishan to save the people from pain and suffering and restoring dharma on this earth.
11. In times of Navaratri, animal sacrifice, in particular, buffalo was prevalent in West Bengal and among some Rajput royal families of Rajasthan. Later, it was banned by the government.
12. Keeping Tulasi plant (Basil) near Gollu (dis play of dolls) is good for the family and creates positive energy in that place.
13. During the nine days, displaying mango leave - thoranam (a series of leaves tied to a strip of string) across the entrance to the house is good for the household.
14. Displaying Navagraha Kollam (Rangoli) is followed in many places. This will remove Navagraha Dosham (blemishes), give peace of mind and pave way for peaceful life.
15. In the case of girls, whose marriage is getting delayed for unforeseen circumstances, on Friday, during the festival, giving saree, food (Annadhanam) and Thampoolam (Pan /Betal leaves) to five Sumangalies (married women) and getting blessings from them will fasten the wedding of girls (Vivaha Proptham).
16. The fifth day is dedicated to goddess Lalitha. On this day donating dress to little girls is good for the welfare of the women in the house.
17. Near the temple city Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu at Theenupuriswarar temple, the idol of Durga has Ahastabujam - eight arms. The salient feature is one arm carries parrot. It is symbolic of her being humane before her devotees, though she appears ferocious before evil forces.
18. According to Davi Dhagavatham, Lord Rama was able to find out where his consort was kept captive by demon king Ravana of Lanka after observing Navaratri Vrudham (fasting, etc.).
19. It is imperative to conduct Chandi Homan on Vijayadasami day to propitiate the goddesses. This popular homam invokes the three Devis together, hence assumes importance and give the desired results.
20. Equally significant is the observance of Asthalakshmi Puja on Vijayadasami day. Badrakali
( represents death and decay), who destroyed Dakshan's Yagam, appeared onSri Krishna, who killed demon Kamsa, was born on Ashtami day, same day Mahamaya Durga Devi was born in Nadagopan's house. So, Durgashtami is an auspicious day. Sapthami, Ashtami and Navami are most suitable for observing Navaratri Vrudha Puja.
21. The origin of Ayudhapuja is quite interesting. In the Mahabharata, when Pandava brothers lost the kingdom in the dice game (in Tamil: Soothatam), and spent their lives in exile in the forest, they hid their sacred weapons below the Punnai tree. After angnanavasa - exile, they went back to the tree to retrieve their weapons. They reverentially placed the weapons under the Punnai tree and did puja, besides observing Navaratri Vrudham for nine days. Since then, Ayudha puja, had become an integral part of Navaratri and is held on Vijayadasami day.
Saraswati, Lakshmi and Durga are symbolic of knowledge and wisdom, wealth and valor respectively. . As these three are essential for the progress of a man, Shakti (represents cosmic energy and is the consort of Shiva) worship (Vazhipadu) is emphasised during Navaratri celebrations. Goddess Durga's shrine is present in most of the Shiva temples.