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Thursday
May112017

Dussehra and Navratri September 29 and 30 October 2017

One of the most popular festivals in India is the celebration of Navratri in the month of October/November) Navratri  is celebrated throughout the entire Indian subcontinent and wherever Hindus may live.

Dussehra is comprised of two main aspects: the worship of the goddess Durga during the nine nights of NAVRATRI and VIJAY DASAMI.  Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana, the 10-headed King of Lanka on the 10th day.  Whichever aspect one may view, the keynote of these ten days is the victory of virtue over evil – light over darkness.

The background of these nine nights of Navratri is based on a puranic legend: A strong and ferocious monster, Mahisasura, once defeated all the gods.  Indra, their king, had to flee the heavens to seek advice from Vishnu and Shiva who in turn decided that the demon had to be eliminated.  

Durga was chosen for this task.  Mahisasura was such a formidable opponent that all the deities provided Durga with especially potent

Weapons to combat her foe.  Shiva gave her his trident, Vishnu his disc, Yama his spear, Agni a dart, Surya gave arrows, Vayu, the wind, gave a magical bow, Varuna a conch ( for peal of victory),  Kala a sword and shield, Kubera a club, Vishvakarma a battleaxe,  and Indra his thunderbolt: twelve weapons in all and a s a mount, Himavan presented a ferocious lion.  In addition to the martial weapons the celestials provided Durga  with ornaments and jewels and Vishnu gave, as armor,  the illusive veil of Vishnu Maya, which made Durga invulnerable.  Equipped thus, the goddess had little trouble in vanquishing her enemy.

Navratri is also referred to as KALARATRI, the nine dark nights.  These nights are considered the most powerful nights of the year and synonymous with Durga’s martial power.  It is the night when aspirants, if thus inclined, become engaged in the practice of Siddhis, special powers.

Worship of Durga is conducted to commemorate the goddess’ triumph.  For nine consecutive days the devout Hindu will recite DURGA SAPTASATI and on the final day, on DURGA ASHTAMI a big puja is being performed in honor of Durga and Shiva, the immutable Purusha who manifests through nature ( Durga as Prakriti/maya).

 A North Indian legend proclaims this puja as instrumental in the defeat of Ravana by Lord Rama.  The last day of Navratri necessitates the presence of a qualified pandit to conduct this puja.  None was available but Ravana, the demon-king of Lanka, generally pointed out as one of the most formidable ogres of all time.  However, there is one less publicized aspect of Ravana which alters the picture somehow. It was Ravana’s complete devotion to Lord Shiva.  Nothing would deter him from performing an act of service to the Great God if called upon – even if this should bring his death.  Fully aware of the consequences of his action, he emerged from his retreat to perform the puja.

The following day he was defeated in combat by Lord Rama, King of Ayodhya and incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the all pervading, all powerful preserving principle of Light:  The tenth day of Dussehra,  VIJAY DASAMI.

 

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