The nine nights and ten days Hindu festival is here. It starts on October 10 and ends with Dussehra on 19th Oct 2018. It celebrates the triumph of good over evil. In most parts of India it is the victory of Goddess Durga Devi over the evil forces that is celebrated. In some parts of India it is the triumph of Lord Rama over Ravan that is the focus of the celebrations. Whatever the belief, the common thread is that it is the victory of good that is being celebrated.
Celebrations include stage decorations, dance and song, chanting from the scriptures, fasting and feasting. Recital and enacting of the popular legends, classical and folk dances in pandals are all common as part of public celebrations. On the tenth and final day known as Dussehra, the main deity of Durga is taken out in procession and immersed in the river or sea. In North India the effigies symbolic of evil are burnt signalling the victory of good. In some parts of India, this tenth day is known as Vijayadashmi and is dedicated to Goddess Saraswathi, the Goddess of Learning. This is particularly seen in Kerala.
Interestingly each day of Navratri is dedicated to a particular form of Devi Mata, the Universal Mother. The first day is dedicated to ‘Shailaputri’- Daughter of the mountain, an incarnation of Mother Goddess Parvati. In this incarnation she is depicted riding the bull Nandi with a Trident/Trishul in one hand and a lotus in the other. The day’s colour is red.
The second day celebrates Goddess Parvati as Brahmacharini. Here Parvati is worshipped as the unmarried Sati. She is worshipped for moksha/emancipation and also for peace and prosperity. She is depicted walking bare feet with a japmaala in one hand and kamandalu in the other. The colour of the day is blue and denotes calmness.
The third day is dedicated to Chandraghanta, the name derived from Parvati adorning the half Chandra/ moon on her forehead after her marriage to Lord Siva. She is symbolic of beauty and bravery and the colour of the day is yellow.
On Chathurti or the fourth day Kushmunda is worshipped. Believed to be the creative power of the universe she is associated with the vegetation on earth. Hence the colour of the day is green and Devi is depicted with eight arms and riding a tiger.
The fifth day, Panchmi celebrates the Goddess as Skandamata, the mother of Skand/ Karthikeya. She is depicted having four arms, holding her baby and riding a lion. The colour of the day is grey denoting the transforming power of the mother when her child is faced with danger.
Goddess Katyayani is worshipped on the sixth day. She is born to Sage Katya from whom she gets the name and is an incarnation of Parvati. She has four arms and rides the tiger. As warrior Goddess she is worshipped in this fierce form. The colour of the day is orange.
On Saptami or the seventh day Goddess Kalratri is worshipped. In this fierce form Goddess Parvati is believed to have shed her fair skin and turned dark in order to kill the demons Sumbh and Nisumbh. The colour of the day is white.
On the eighth day Mahagauri is worshipped. She symbolizes intelligence and peace. The colour for this day is pink denoting optimism.
On Navami or the ninth day the Goddess is worshipped as Sidhidatri also known as Ardhanareeswari. She is depicted seated on a lotus and has four arms and bestows sidhis.
On Dashmi, the tenth day, all celebrations come to an end with feasting and joy. Some dedicate this day to Durga, some to Goddess Saraswati-the Goddess of learning and others to the victory of Lord Ram over Ravan.
More than all Navaratri is the harbinger of tidings that Diwali is soon to come-just 20 days later.