Navaratri

During this week and into next week is the Hindu festival of Navaratri. It means “nine nights” and it is a worship of the divine mother in several forms. The goddess represents the active principal of creation, or Shakti. Each night a puja is held celebrating one of the forms of Shakti.

The first 3 nights of Navaratri are to ask the goddess Durga for help in eradicating all the negative tendencies of the mind. She also helps you to protect your spiritual practice from the distractions and pitfalls that you encounter regularly in worldly life.  Here is a picture of Durga:

She has 10 arms, which each hold the weapons from the different gods, which she uses to destroy the negative tendencies.

The next 3 nights of the festival are in worship of goddess Lakshmi. She is the wealth-giving aspect of God, including not just material blessings but spiritual blessings as well. Once you have removed your negative tendencies through worship of Durga, Lakshmi will fill you with purity, and help you develop auspicious qualities. Here is what Lakshmi looks like:

The last 3 nights of the festival are in honor of the goddess Saraswati. She represents knowledge, wisdom and the arts. After removing your negative qualities and filling yourself with purity and divine qualities during the first 6 nights of the festival, Saraswati is worshipped in order to receive the full knowledge of the Self. She bestows the light of wisdom on the aspirants. Here is Saraswati, always pictured in pure white garments:

After the 9 nights are over comes Vijaya Dasami. This is a day of celebration and a special puja is held with objects related to your main karmas in addition to the above forms of the goddess.

For more information you can read a nice description on the Divine Life Society website.

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