Tuesday, 16 October 2012

India and Festivals - Navaratri and Dussehra

Hello friends, Good day to all....

After giving you some useful information about different places in and around Nashik, now we from Phila Tours & Travels take this opportunity to introduce you to one of the famous Hindu festival which is starting from 16th October 2012 in India. It is one of the most special festivals of Hinduism in every possible way, which is important from religious, devotional, moral and materialistic ways.  This very important Hindu festival celebrated in India, which is devoted to Goddess Durga (the Goddess of Power). The festival is celebrated with great reverence and faith across the country. 

Yes, we are talking about the festival called NAVARATRI. This is a festival dedicated to the worship of a Hindu deity Shakti (Adhya Shakti or Durga). The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit, Nava meaning nine and Ratri meaning nights. These nine nights are in parise of different forms of Goddess Durga, one for each day and their names are as Shailputri, Brahmcharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandmata, Katyaini, Kaalratri, Mahagauri, and Siddhatri., the last day Dassera also known as Vijayadashmi, this festival signifies power, wealth, prosperity and knowledge and the victory of good over evil.
On the First Day of Navratri “Ghatasthapana” is an important ritual during Navratri. It literally means installing a pot which symbolizes Goddess Shakti. A Pot with image of Goddess Durga embossed on the side of it is place in the Puja room. The pot is placed on a bed of sand at the auspicious time of the first day of the Navratri. It is believed Goddess Shakti blesses the Pot with her presence. In this earthenware pot a betel nut, coconut, and silver coin are placed.

Navratri festival is celebrated in a most unique and unusual way, it holds special significance for Gujratis (from Gujarat Province/State)  and Bengalis (from West Bengal Province/State) and one can see it in the zeal and fervor of the people with which they indulge in the festive activities of the season. Dandiya and Garba Rass are the highlights of the festival, particularly in the state of Gujarat, Navratri is celebrated with the famous Garba dance or Dandiya Rasa. Apart from Gujarat, Dandiya Ras and Garba is a common feature in all over India and especially in cities like Mumbai. 

Garba is the most colorful form of the dance. The performers, both men and women, would clad themselves in colorful and magnetically attractive traditional attire. The women wear their vibrant, mirror-work ghaghras and cholis in different styles and the men in their traditional attire; a decorated pot with attractive designs is ceremoniously placed with a light inside and the women folk dance in a circle around it, singing 'traditional songs' or 'garbas'. The Garba of Gujarat is the most popular women's folk dance of Gujarat. The word "Garba" by which the pot as well as the dance is known is etymologically close to the word “Garbh” meaning womb. In this context the lamp in the pot, symbolically represent life within a womb. In older times, Navratri was associated with the fertility of Mother Earth who feed us as her children. The Dandiya Ras or the dance as this is called is played with dandiyas or small decorated wooden sticks. 

Basically the dance form known as ras garba or dandiya ras, which uses small wooden sticks, comes from Lord Krishna's worship rather than Goddess worship, from the “Gop” culture of Saurashtra and Kutch. Stories of relationships between Krishna and the Gopis, and their emotions, also often make their way into the ras garba music.

In different parts of India, different legends and mythology describe the history of Navaratri:

Western India: 

Navratri' is the festival of worship of the Goddess Shakti. It is a period of nine days, when the Goddess fought the Demon 'Mahishashura'. The demon Mahishasur, after being given a boon by the fire god Agni that he wouldn't be killed by weapons bearing masculine names, caused grave destruction and terror. The gods sought the help of Lord Shiva, who advised the invocation of the goddess Shakti. With the gods' prayers, a divine luster sprang from the heart of Lord Shiva and the bodies of all the gods and formed the goddess Adhya Shakti (the Original Pure Power). The gods gave her ornaments, arms and a lion as a vehicle. She fought with the evil Mahishasur for nine long days and nights, and at last, resulted in the beheading of Mahisasur on the tenth. The nine nights came to be known as Navratri, while the tenth day was called Vijaya Dashami, the tenth day that brought the triumph of good over the evil. Thus performing of Garba and the 'Dandiya' are forms of worship of the Goddess. 

Eastern India: 

As per the legend prevalent in East India, Daksha, the king of the Himalayas, had a beautiful and virtuous daughter called Uma (one of the reincarnation of Goddess Durga) . She wished to marry Lord Shiva, since her childhood. In order to win over the Lord, she worshipped him and managed to please him as well. When Shiva finally came to marry her, the tiger-skin clad groom displeased Daksha and he broke off all the relationships with his daughter and son-in-law. One fine day, Daksha organized a yagna, but did not invite Lord Shiva for the same. Uma (another name most commonly known as Parvati) got so angry at her father's rude behavior towards her husband, that she decided to end her life by jumping into the agnikund (Fire Place) of the yagna, where she was united with eternity (since then, she came to be known as Sati). However, she took re-birth and again won Shiva as her groom and peace was restored. It is believed that since then, Uma comes every year with Ganesh, Kartik, Saraswati and Laxmi and two of her best friends or 'sakhis', called Jaya and Vijaya, to visit her parent's home during Navaratri. 

In Northern India from Ramayana:

Yet another legend of Navratri relates to the Hindu epic Ramayana. It goes that Lord Rama worshipped Goddess Durga in nine aspects, for nine days, in order to gather the strength and power to kill Ravana. He wanted to release Sita from the clutches of powerful demon king Ravana, who had abducted her. Those nine nights became to be known as Navratri and the tenth day, on which Lord Rama killed Ravana, came to be called Vijayadashmi or Dusshera, signifying Rama's (good) triumph over Ravana (evil). Even today the statues made of fireworks are prepared Ravana and burnt on 10th Day with a spectacular view to see. 

In Southern Parts of India:  

South Indians spiritual focus appears to be slightly different from that of others. Though the nine nights of Puja are devoted to goddesses Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati equally. In Kerala, on 10th day children are initiated into learning. This day marks the beginning of any type of learning. Dance and music concerts are performed in the nine nights of Durga Puja. In Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, Dolls are arranged at homes, shops and temples, called "Golu". Music and dance festivals are organized, tiger dance is performed. Performers paint themselves like tigers in bright yellow, red and black, and dance to the beats of instruments. In Karnataka, Mysore Dasara, the royal festival depicting the triumph over evil, is of legendary splendourt dates back to the Wodeyar dynasty. The entire Mysore is decorated and illuminated. The elephant rides are held as part of the festival which is world-famous. Sports events, exhibitions, poets meet, and other cultural events by world famous musicians are also held.

All in all, this is the festival celebrated all over India in one or the other way of praising the Goddess Dugra and triumph of Good over Evil. This whole 9 nights celebration comes to an end by the 10th day with the blessings from Godess and faith in her. With this, here we are leaving you to have advantage of the prayer (aarti) of Godess Durga and with the wish that May Godess Dugra give you courage to fight all evil and have better life for yourself and your loved ones. For any further information and packages, feel free to contact us anytime.

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