Navaratri The Nine Auspicious Nights
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on | Oct 15,2012
Auspicious Navaratri is all set to begin, this festival is celebrated with equal fervor and devotion throughout the country.
Navaratri literally means “nine divine nights”. Victory of good over evil is celebrated and goddess Shakti is propitiated. In Hindu mythology, Navaratri celebrates the victory of goddess Durga over Mahishasura, the buffalo-headed demon. She fought for nine days and nine nights before emerging victorious on the tenth day.
History of Navratra
There are a number of beliefs and legends of this festival that are followed from ages.
Belief in North India
Mahishasura the “ buffalo headed demon “ was awarded a boon by the trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh that protected him from any man in the world. As a result of this he was set out to conquer the world and defeated the king of deities, Indra.
As a pleading of Indra, the king of gods, Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and Shiva created Devi Durga, by combining their own divine powers. Durga fought Mahishasura for nine days, and beheading him on tenth. These Nine Divine Nights symbolize the battle between Devi Durga and Mahishasura while the tenth day that is Vijayadashmi literally means the victory of good over evil.
The Eastern Belief
Uma who was the daughter of Daksha, the king of Himalayas and Plains was a devotee of Shiva and since childhood worshipped Shiva as her husband. But Daksha did not approve of this. Even after marrying lord Shiva, she was prevented by her father from moving to Kailash with Shiva.
Daksha further insulted Shiva during a ‘ yagna ’ where everyone except Shiva was invited. Shocked and ashamed by her father’s attitude, Uma committed Sati( the woman who immolates herself in a burning pyre ) Shiva lifted body of Uma on his shoulders and started dancing madly. The world was on the verge of destruction. Lord Vishnu, came forward as a savior and used his ‘chakra’ to cut body of Uma in pieces.
These pieces fell into different places now known as ‘shakti peeths’ or energy pits. Daksha pleaded for his misdeeds and was forgiven. Ever since peace was restored, Uma with her four children and her two ‘sakhis’ comes to visit her parent’s home each year during the season of ‘sharat’ or autumn when durga pooja is celebrated.
The Nine Divine Days Of Navratri
The first form of Goddess Durga is called Shailputri . She is considered the daughter of the Himalayas. She is a form of Shakti, the consort of Lord Shiva.
The second form of Goddess Durga is known as 'Brahmacharini'. Her name is derivative of the word 'Brahma', which means 'Tapa' or penace. She is also a form of Uma or Parvati, a form of Mata Shakti.
The Third Day
On the third day the goddess is worshipped as Chandraghanta. She is the symbolic representation of beauty and bravery.
The Fourth Day
Kushmanda, is the form of the goddess which is worshipped on the fourth day. It is believed that Kushmanda is the creator of the entire Universe and she has created the entire Universe by her laugh.
The Fifth Day
On the fifth day, the form of Goddess is called Skand Mata. She is actually called so because she is here represented as the mother of Skanda, the chief warrior of the Gods army.
The Sixth Day
On the sixth day, the goddess is worshipped as Katyayani. Seated on her vehicle lion, Katyayani has three eyes and four hands.
The Seventh Day
On the seventh day, the Goddess is worshipped as 'Kalratri'. As the name suggests, Kalrati is as black as a dark night. She has four hands, she is meant to make the devotees fearless.
The Eighth Day
On the eight day, the Mata Rani is worshipped as 'Maha Gauri'. She is considered to extremely beautiful, white like snow and accessorized with white colored ornaments. She represents calmness and exhibits wisdom.
The Ninth Day
On the ninth day, Durga is worshipped as Siddhidatri. It is believed she consists of all the eight siddhis. She lives on lotus and is worshipped by all the Rishis-Munis, Siddhas, Sadhakas and Yogis.
During fasting in Navaratri, only fruits, milk, potato and other root vegetables should be eaten. Grains are said to be avoided as it is assumed that grains absorb negative energies. Sendha namak (rock salt) is a significant ingredient used instead of common salt. Throughout the Navaratri vrat (fasting), devotees evade non vegetarian food as Navratri is considered as a period of purity.
The festival of Navratri revolves around the three aspects of Goddess Shakti which are worshipped, with first three days devoted to Goddess Durga, followed by fourth, fifth and sixth days devoted to Goddess Lakshmi and last three days for Goddess Saraswati.
Navratri being a nine-day long festival, a range of dishes are prepared during this occasion. Special navaratri cuisine is a part of the multitude of culinary delights of the country.
Since, most people observe fast during this occasion, the cuisines for navaratri festival are strictly vegetarian and only fruits, milk, potato and other root vegetables should be eaten. Specific ingredients are used for preparing the navaratri delicacies. Spices are limited to red chillies, turmeric and cumin seeds, and sendha namak (rock salt) is used instead of common salt. Onion and garlic are not allowed, however, one can eat milk, curd, fruits and nuts.
Some of the typical Navratri recipes are Vrat ke Chawal, Sabudana Vadaa and Puri, Aaloo Mewawale, Kacche Kele ki Chaat, Singhaade ke Pakode, Singhaade ka Halwa, Payash, Kuttu ki Puri, Arbi Fried, Coconut laddoos, Bundi sweets, and many more.