Triumph of good over evil

| OCTOBER 05, 2019, 03:51 AM IST


For those who follow the Hindu festivity calender, the second half of the year marks the busy and fun time full of festivities lined up one after the other. Festivals like Navratri, Dussehra, and Diwali all fall within weeks of each other. The ongoing Navratri festivities bring in a lot of joy that will continue till Vijayadashami which will be celebrated on October 8, 2019.

So, instead of just letting them these festivals be another holiday, why not know the history behind the celebrations as well as play some fun activities?  

Navratri is an Indian festival celebrated by those who follow the Hindu tradition, even though anyone can enjoy the festivities and celebrations. Durga Puja and Navratri festival is celebrated by worshiping Goddess Durga and her nine different avatars, hence the name Navratri, ‘nav’ meaning nine and ‘ratri’ meaning night.

Chandra Darshan, Kumari/Brahmacharini Puja, Sindoor Tritiya, Sandhi Puja, Chandi Path, Lalitha Vrat, Kalaratri Puja, Mahagauri Puja, Ayudha Puja and Navami Homa are rituals and events which are observed during nine days Navratri.

For all the nine days that the festival is celebrated, one form of goddess Durga is worshipped each day, and a color is chosen for each day. Those who religiously follow the festival dress in the color of the day. There are different historical legends in different parts of India.  

Eastern India

Uma was the daughter of Daksha, who was the king of the Himalaya. She was known for her beauty and was a virtuous girl. Ever since she was a child, Uma wanted to marry Shiva and had been trying to worship him to please him and make him agree. When Shiva came to tell Daksha that he would marry Uma, her father was quite upset and did not want his daughter to marry him. He told his daughter and son-in-law that he would not think of them as a family anymore.

One day Daksha was performing a special yagna but did not invite Uma and Shiva, which angered Uma. She jumped into the fire and came to be known as ‘Sati.’ However, she was reborn again and married Shiva, after which her father accepted them both. Ever since then, she comes home every year to her parents during Navratri.

North India

The demon Mahisasura worshipped Shiva and became immortal. He started killing people and wanted to rule over all the gods, as he thought no one would be able to kill him anymore. The gods asked Shiva for help and to save the world from Mahasisura’s evil behavior. Shiva united with Vishnu and Brahma to create a female warrior goddess known as Durga. When Mahisasura saw Durga, he fell in love with her beauty and asked to marry her. She agreed on the condition that he would have to defeat her in a battle. Mahasisura was sure he would win, so the battle continued for nine nights and on the last night, she beheaded him. The nine nights are celebrated as part of the Navratri festival.

In Goa

In Goa, goddess Sateri and Bhumika are worshipped either in the form of an ant-hill or a pitcher filled with water. In some areas, the goddess is designated as Shantadurga and the stone sculpture of Mahishasurmardini, a four-handed fierce form of Durga, is worshipped. The ant-hill is the representation of the earth goddess, who is deemed responsible for giving birth and sustaining the various forms of life around us. As a respect to the power of procreation of the mother, the nine-nights festival is celebrated in Goa.

On the first morning of Navratri, a pitcher filled with water is installed in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, with a pan of copper containing nine different varieties of grains sprinkled inside clay. On the tenth day, when these grains are sprouted on the altar, they are distributed among villagers. Married women decorate their hair with the grown grain called ‘Ruzvan’.

There is a tradition in some temples like Mahamaya Kalika of Kasarpal, Chamundeshwari of Vargao, Devaki-Krishna of Marcela, Navdurga of Borim and others, to put the idol on a decorated swing and move it to and fro to the tune of the folk music.  

Mythology behind Dussehra

Dussehra is another very popular festival celebrated in India, which is celebrated on the tenth day of the celebrations of Navratri commence. While some parts of India celebrate it to mark goddess Durga’s victory over Mahisasura, other parts celebrate it as Ram’s win over Ravana. Dussehra is mostly about the victory of good over evil. Ravana had abducted Rama’s wife Sita, after which Rama, with his brother Lakshman and follower Hanuman, waged war against Ravana to bring Sita back. Rama worshipped goddess Durga to get her blessings and killed Ravana. The day is celebrated as Dussehra.

Puzzle on Navratri and Dussehra

Read the above passage and answer the following questions. You can also play this small activity in the form of crossword puzzle with your friends or cousins.

Navratri is celebrated for how many days?

Name the festival that goes on for nine nights.

The demon whose death marks Navratri

A demon whose death marks Dussehra

The festival that comes right after Navratri

Share these mythological Navratri stories with your friends or younger siblings to make them understand more about the festivals they celebrate.  

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