Vijayadashami / Navarathri

 


Vijayadashami is a festival celebrated in varying forms across Nepal and India. It is also called Dasara, Dashahara, Navaratri and Durgotsav(Bengali: বিজয়াদশমী,Oriya :ବିଜୟାଦଶମୀ, Kannada: ವಿಜಯದಶಮಿ, Malayalam: വിജയദശമി, Marathi: विजयादशमी, Nepali :विजया दशमी,Tamil: விஜயதசமி, Telugu: విజయదశమి). It is also known as Dasara (also written Dussehra) Bengali: দশেরা, Kannada: ದಸರ, Malayalam: ദസറ, konkani: दसरो , Marathi: दसरा,Oriya:ଦଶହରା Telugu: దసరా) and Dashain in Nepali.Vijayadashami is a festival celebrated in varying forms across Nepal and India. It is also called Dasara, Dashahara, Navaratri and Durgotsav(Bengali: বিজয়াদশমী,Oriya :ବିଜୟାଦଶମୀ, Kannada: ವಿಜಯದಶಮಿ, Malayalam: വിജയദശമി, Marathi: विजयादशमी, Nepali :विजया दशमी,Tamil: விஜயதசமி, Telugu: విజయదశమి). It is also known as Dasara (also written Dussehra) Bengali: দশেরা, Kannada: ದಸರ, Malayalam: ദസറ, konkani: दसरो , Marathi: दसरा,Oriya:ଦଶହରା Telugu: దసరా) and Dashain in Nepali.

Vijayadashami is celebrated on the tenth day of the Hindu autumn lunar month of Ashvin, or Ashwayuja which falls in September or October of the Western calendar, from the Shukla Paksha Pratipada, or the day after the new moon which falls in Bhadrapada, to the Dashami, or the tenth day of Ashvin. It is the culmination of the 10-day annual Navaratri (Sanskrit: नवरात्रि, 'nine nights') festival. It is the largest festival in Nepal, and celebrated by Hindu and non-Hindu Nepalis.


In India, the harvest season begins at this time and so the Mother Goddess is invoked to start the new harvest season and reactivate the vigor and fertility of the soil. This is done through religious performances and rituals which are thought to invoke cosmic forces that rejuvenate the soil.


On the day of Dasha-Hara, clay statues of the Goddess Durga are submerged in rivers. The pooja is performed with turmeric and other pooja items, which are added to the river in order to help the water yield better crops.


Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Hindawi (Hindu) Swarajya - Maratha Empire worshipped Lord Shiva and the goddess Durga in her Bhawani form before engaging in military expeditions. The goddess Bhavani had blessed Shivaji Maharaj with her sword, "Bhavani Talwar" on this day.

Dasha-Hara is the festival of Victory of Good over Evil. Buses, trucks and machines in factories are decorated. Dasha-Hara is also Vishwakarma Divas - the National Labor Day of India. Veda Vyasa is considered the foremost guru and Vijayadashami is also celebrated as Vyasa puja. Shastra pooja, or the worship of the weapon Shastra/Astra used by Goddess Durga, are worshipped on this day.

Victory of Prabhu Ramachandra over Ravana
On this day in the Treta Yug, Rama, also called Shri Ram, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, killed the great demon Ravana who had abducted Rama's wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Rama, his brother Lakshman, their follower Hanuman and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue Sita. The entire narrative is recorded in the epic Ramayana, a Hindu scripture.

Rama had performed "Chandi Homa" and invoked the blessings of Durga, who blessed Rama with secret knowledge of the way to kill Ravana. On the day of Ashvin Shukla Dashami, Rama's party found Sita and defeated Ravana. Rama, Sita and Laxman returned to Rama's kingdom of Ayodhya on the same day. Since then, Rama's victory has been celebrated as Vijayadashami.

During the ten days of Dasha-Hara, Deities of Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna and son Meghanad are erected and burnt by enthusiastic youths at sunset.

After Dasha-Hara, the hot summer ends, especially in North India. The coming cold weather is believed to encourage infections. The burning of the effigies, filled with firecrackers containing phosphorous, supposedly purifies the atmosphere, while the temples perform Chandi Homa or Durga Homa, with the same intent.

Many people perform Aditya Homa as a Shanti Yagna and recite Sundara Kanda of Srimad Ramayana for nine days. These Yagna performances are thought to create powerful agents in the atmosphere surrounding the house that will keep the household environment clean and healthy. These rituals are intended to rid the household of the ten bad qualities, which are represented by ten heads of Ravana as follows:

(1) Kama vasana (Lust)
(2) Krodha (Anger)
(3) Moha (delusion)
(4) Lobha (Greed)
(5) Mada (Over Pride)
(6) Matsara (Jealousy)
(7) Manas (Mind)
(8) Buddhi (Intellect)
(9) Chitta (will)
(10) Ahankara (Ego).

Some householders perform Yagnas thrice daily along with Sandhya Vandana, which is also called Aahavaneeya Agni, Grahapatya Agni or Dakshina Agni. In addition, the Aditya Homa is performed with the Maha Surya Mantras and the Aruna Prapathaka of the Yajurveda. These mantras are believed to keep the heart, brain and digestive functions in balance in the absence of adequate sunlight in the winter months.

Victory of Durga Mata over Mahishasur
Some of the demons, or Asuras, were very powerful and ambitious and continually tried to defeat the Devas, or Gods , and capture Heaven. One Asura, Mahishasur, in the form of a buffalo, grew very powerful and created havoc on the earth. Under his leadership, the Asuras defeated the Devas. The world was crushed under Mahishasura's tyranny, the Devas joined their energies into Shakti, a single mass of incandescent energy, to kill Mahishasur.

A very powerful band of lightning emerged from the mouths of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and a young, beautiful female virgin with ten hands appeared. All the Gods gave their special weapons to her. This Shakti coalesced to form the goddess Durga. Riding on a lion, who assisted her, Durga fought Mahishasur. The battle raged for nine days and nights. Finally on the tenth day of Ashvin shukla paksha, Mahishasur was defeated and killed by Durga.

Hence Dasha-Hara is also known as Navaratra or Durgotsava and is a celebration of Durga's victory. Durga, as Consort of Lord Shiva, represents two forms of female energy - one mild and protective and the other fierce and destructive.

Home Coming of Durga Mata
Daksha, the Lord of the Earth, and his wife Menaka, had a daughter called Sati. As a child, Sati started worshipping Lord Shiva as her would-be-husband. Lord Shiva was pleased with the Sati's worship of him and married her. Daksha was against their marriage but could not prevent it. Daksha arranged a yagna to which everyone except Lord Shiva was invited. Sati, feeling ashamed of her father`s behaviour and shocked by the attitude meted towards her husband, killed herself. Lord Shiva was anguished when he discovered this. He lifted Sati's body on his shoulders and started dancing madly. With the supreme power dancing with wrath, the World was on the verge of destruction.

Then Lord Narayana came forward as a saviour and used his Chakra to cut Sati`s body into pieces. Those pieces fell from the shoulders of the dancing Shiva and scattered throughout the world. Shiva was pacified when the last piece fell from his shoulder. Lord Narayana revived Sati. The places where the pieces of Sati fell are known as the Shakti Piths or energy pits. Kalighat in Kolkata, Kamakshya near Guwahati and Vaishnav Devi in Jammu are three of these places.

In her next birth, Sati was born as Parvati or Shaila-Putri (First form of Durga), the daughter of Himalaya. Lord Narayana asked Shiva to forgive Daksha. Ever since peace was restored, Durga, with her children Saraswati, Lakshmi, Kartikeya, Ganesh and her two `sakhis` - Jaya and Vijaya - visit her parents each year during the season of `Sharatkal` or autumn when Durga-Puja is celebrated.

End of Agnyatwas of Pandava
In the age of Dwapar Yuga, Pandava - the five acknowledged sons of Pandu (Sanskrit: पांडु), by his two wives Kunti and Madri - lost to Kauravas in a game of dice, and both spent twelve years of Vanawas, or exile to the forest, followed by one year of Agnyatawas. The brothers hid their weapons in a hole in a Shami tree before entering the Kingdom of Virat to complete the final year of Agnyatwas. After that year, on Vijayadashmi, they recovered the weapons, declared their true identities and defeated Kauravas, who had attacked King Virat to steal his cattle. Since that day, Shami trees and weapons have been worshipped and the exchange of Shami leaves on Vijayadashmi has been a symbol of good will and victory.

Kautsa's Gurudakshina
Kautsa, the young son of a Brahmin called Devdatt, lived in the city of Paithan. After completing his education with Rishi Varatantu, he insisted on his guru accepting Guru Dakshina, a present. The guru said, "Kautsa, to give 'dakshina' in return for learning wisdom is not proper. Graduation of the disciple makes the guru happy, and this is the real Guru Dakshina."

Kautsa was not satisfied. He still felt it was his duty to give his guru something. The guru said, "All right, if you insist on giving me dakshina, so give me 140 million gold coins, 10 million for each of the 14 sciences I have taught you."

Kautsa went to King Raghu. Raghuraja was an ancestor of Lord Rama, famous for his generosity. But just at that time he had spent all his money on the Brahmins, after performing the Vishvajit sacrifice. King Raghu asked Kautsa to return three days. Raghuraja immediately left to get the gold coins from Indra. Indra summoned Kuber, the god of wealth. Indra told Kuber, "Make a rain of gold coins fall on the "Shanu" and "Aapati" trees round Raghuraja's city of Ayodhya."

The rain of gold coins began to fall. King Raghu gave all the coins to Kautsa, and Kautsa hastened to offer the coins to Varatantu Rishi. Guru had asked only 140 millions, so he gave the rest back to Kautsa. Kautsa was not interested in money, considering honour to be more valuable than wealth. He asked the king to take the remaining gold coins back. But the king refused, as kings do not take back the daan (gift).

Finally Kautsa distributed the gold coins to the people of Ayodhya on the day of Ashvin shukla dashami. In remembrance of this event, there has been a custom of looting the leaves of the Aapati trees, and people present these leaves to one another as gold.

Dasha-Hara in different parts of India and the world

Kashmir
In Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Western Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, it is traditional to plant barley seeds in earthen pots on the first day of Navrathri. On the day of Dussehra, the nine-day old sprouts (called noratras or nortas) are used as symbols of luck. Men place them in their caps or behind their ears.

In most of northern India and some parts of Maharashtra, Dasha-Hara is celebrated more in honour of Rama. During these 10 days many plays and dramas based on Ramayana are performed. These are called Ramlila.

In the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, the Dasshera festival starts with the performance of Ramlila which is itself unique as it is based on the musical rendering of the katha or story of Lord Ram based on the theatrical traditions set by Uday Shankar while on his stay in Almora these traditions were further enriched by Mohan Upreti and Brijendra Lal Sah. Known as the Almora or Kumaon style, Ramlila has been recognised by UNESCO in its 2008 report as one of the representative styles of Ramlila in India

Mysore
The legend associated with the Shami tree finds commemoration during the renowned Navaratri celebrations at Mysore. The Mysore celebrations also strongly emphasize the Durga legend described above, as may be expected in the city built at the very site of the events of the Durga legend. On Vijaydashami day, at the culmination of a colourful 10-day celebration, the goddess Chamundeshwari is worshipped and then borne in a grand procession on a Golden Ambari or elephant-mounted throne through the city of Mysore, from the historical Mysore Palace to the Banni Mantapa. Banni is the Kannada word for the Sanskrit Shami, and Mantapa means "Pavilion".

Karnataka
In Karnataka, Ayudha Puja, the ninth day of Dasha-Hara, is celebrated with the worship of implements used in daily life such as computers, books, vehicles, or kitchen tools. This ritual is also followed in Maharashtra.

The effort to see the divine in the tools and objects one uses in daily life is central to this celebration, so it includes all tools that help one earn one's livelihood. Knowledge workers go for books, pen or computers, farmers the plough and other agricultural tools, machinery for industrialists and cars/buses/trucks for the transportation workers--all are decorated with flowers and worshipped on this day invoking God's blessing for success in coming years. It is believed that any new venture such as starting of business or purchasing of new household items on this day is bound to succeed.

Orissa
Vijoya Dashami or Dussehra is celebrated as Durga Puja in two different ways in Odisa. In Shakti Peethas or temples of the goddesses, the Durga Puja is observed with rituals for a period of 10 to 16 days, known as Shodasa Upachara. The goddess Durga is also worshipped by devotees in different pendals throughout the state. The pendals are beautifully decorated. The last day of the Sharodiya Durga Puja is known as Vijaya Dashami. After the last ritual Aparajita Puja is offered to the goddess, a tearful farewell is offered to her. The women offer Dahi-Pakhal (cooked rice soaked in water, with curd), Pitha (baked cakes), Mitha (sweets) and fried fish to the Goddess. Most of the community pujas postpone the farewell as long as possible and arrange a grand send-off. The images are carried in processions known as Bhasani Jatra or Bisarjan Jatra around the locale and finally are immersed in a nearby river or lake. After the immersion of the deity, people across the state celebrate "Ravan Podi" in which they burn an effigy of the demon Ravan.

Andhra Pradesh
Vijaya Dashami has great importance in the Telugu household. For life events such as starting a business, or buying a new home or vehicle, rituals take place on this auspicious day. They perform Ayudha Puja where they sanctify vehicles and other new items. In the evenings, a procession is taken up in all major cities where people dress up as characters from the Ramayana and perform stage shows. Huge effigies of Ravana and Kumbhakarna are burned, signifying victory of Lord Rama.

People believe this to be an auspicious day for anyone starting a new venture, bringing victory. In the Telangana region, younger family members usually pay respects to their elders by giving them leaves of Jammi tree, and seeking their blessings.

This festival is celebrated in all temples of Durga. Shodasa Upacharam is offered to her. During Navratri ("nine nights"), Goddess Durga is decorated in her different aspects like Bala Tripura Sundari, Mahishasura-Mardhini, Annapoorna, Kali, Raja Rajeshwari, Kanaka Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Gayatri Devi. On the river banks of Krishna at Vijayawada, at an age-old temple of "Sri Durga Malleswar Swami" on a hill called "Indra-Kila-Adri", Dushera Navaratri is celebrated every year with great pomp and tens of thousands of people visit this temple during this time. These celebrations are concluded on the tenth day of "Vijaya Dashami", which is usually a national holiday. In Vijayawada on Vijayadashami day, "Teppa Utsavam", in which Durga's image is placed on a big boat decorated with flowers and lights, is celebrated in the evening of Vijaya Dashami day. People of Andhra Pradesh wish to start new ventures on Vijaya Dashami day, with a belief that it will be successful.

Batukamma is a spring festival celebrated by the Hindu women of Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh, India. It is also called as Bodemma. This festival falls in the months of September/October and is named Aswiyuja; this concludes two days before Dussera orDurgashtami. Batukamma is very special in Telangana.

Maharashtra
In Maharashtra, the festival is celebrated on the tenth day of the month of Ashvin, which falls in October according to the Shaka Hindu Calendar. This is one of the 3 and a half days in the Hindu Lunar calendar every moment of which is considered auspicious. On this, Dasha-Hara day, the deities installed on the first day of the Navratri are immersed in water. This day also marks the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. People visit each other and exchange sweets. On this day, people worship the Aapta tree (Bauhinia variegata) and exchange its leaves (known as golden leaves) as symbol of gold and wish each other a bright prosperous future. The tradition of exchanging aapta leaves refers to Raghuraja, an ancestor of Ramachandra and Kubera. Similar to Ayudh puja in Karnataka, many groups and communities, largely the artisan castes, celebrate the day before Dasha-Hara as Khande navmi when tools of all kinds are given rest and ritually worshipped. In Maharashtra, people also ritually cross the border of their community, in a ceremony known as Seemollanghan, which has its roots in the idea that this day is an auspicious one on which to start ventures,

Kerala, Navarathri
The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi are worshiped.

Significance
The beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn are two very important junctions of climatic and solar influence. These two periods are taken as sacred opportunities for the worship of the Divine Mother. The dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar.

In Hinduism the adherents believe in one omnipresent Deity but may worship Her/Him in any of the numerous manifestations that are prevalent all over India. Navaratri represents celebration of Goddess Durga, the manifestation of Deity in form of Shakti [Energy or Power]. Dasahara, meaning ‘ten days’, becomes dussehra in popular parlance. The Navaratri festival or ‘Nine Nights festival’ becomes ‘ten days festival’ with the addition of the last day, Vijayadashami which is its culmination. On all these ten days, the various forms of Mother Mahisasura-mardini (Durga) are worshipped with fervour and devotion.

Traditions of Navaratri
Navaratri is celebrated four times a year. They are Vasanta Navaratri, Ashadha Navaratri, the Sharada Navaratri, and the Poushya/Magha Navaratri. Of these, the Sharada Navaratri of the month of Puratashi and the Vasanta Navaratri of the Vasanta kala are very important.

1. Vasanta Navaratri: Basanta Navrathri, also known as Vasant Navratras, is the festival of nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the spring season (March–April). It is also known as Chaitra Navratra. The nine days of festival is also known as Raama Navratri.

2. Gupta Navaratri: Gupta Navratri, also referred as Ashadha or Gayatri or Shakambhari Navratri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Ashadha (June–July). Gupta Navaratri is observed during the Ashadha Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon).

3. Sharana Navaratri: This is the most important of the Navratris. It is simply called Maha Navratri (the Great Navratri) and is celebrated in the month of Ashvina. Also known as Sharad Navaratri, as it is celebrated during Sharad (beginning of winter, September–October).

4. Poushya Navaratri: Poushya Navratri is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Pousha (December–January). Poushya Navaratri is observed during the Pousha Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon).

5. Magha Navaratri: Magha Navratri, also referred as Gupta Navratri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Magha (January–February). Magha Navaratri is observed during the Magha Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon).

Vasanta Navaratri
This is celebrated during Vasanta Rhitu (beginning of summer) (March- April). This is also known as Chaitra navaratri as it falls during the lunar month of Chaitra.

The Story Behind the Origin of Vasanta Navaratri
In days long gone by, King Dhruvasindhu was killed by a lion when he went out hunting. Preparations were made to crown the prince Sudarsana. But, King Yudhajit of Ujjain, the father of Queen Lilavati, and King Virasena of Kalinga, the father of Queen Manorama, were each desirous of securing the Kosala throne for their respective grandsons. They fought with each other. King Virasena was killed in the battle. Manorama fled to the forest with Prince Sudarsana and a eunuch. They took refuge in the hermitage of Rishi Bharadwaja.

The victor, King Yudhajit, thereupon crowned his grandson, Satrujit, at Ayodhya, the capital of Kosala. He then went out in search of Manorama and her son. The Rishi said that he would not give up those who had soughts protection under him. Yudhajit became furious. He wanted to attack the Rishi. But, his minister told him about the truth of the Rishi’s statement. Yudhajit returned to his capital.

Fortune smiled on Prince Sudarsana. A hermit’s son came one day and called the eunuch by his Sanskrit name Kleeba. The prince caught the first syllable Kli and began to pronounce it as Kleem. This syllable happened to be a powerful, sacred Mantra. It is the Bija Akshara (root syllable) of the Divine Mother. The Prince obtained peace of mind and the Grace of the Divine Mother by the repeated utterance of this syllable. Devi appeared to him, blessed him and granted him divine weapons and an inexhaustible quiver.

The emissaries of the king of Benares passed through the Ashram of the Rishi and, when they saw the noble prince Sudarsana, they recommended him to Princess Sashikala, the daughter of the king of Benares.

The ceremony at which the princess was to choose her spouse was arranged. Sashikala at once chose Sudarsana. They were duly wedded. King Yudhajit, who had been present at the function, began to fight with the king of Benares. Devi helped Sudarsana and his father-in-law. Yudhajit mocked Her, upon which Devi promptly reduced Yudhajit and his army to ashes.

Thus Sudarsana, with his wife and his father-in-law, praised Devi. She was highly pleased and ordered them to perform Her worship with havan and other means during the Vasanta Navaratri. Then She disappeared.

Prince Sudarsana and Sashikala returned to the Ashram of Rishi Bharadwaja. The great Rishi blessed them and crowned Sudarsana as the king of Kosala. Sudarsana and Sashikala and the king of Benares implicitly carried out the commands of the Divine Mother and performed worship in a splendid manner during the Vasanta Navaratri.

Sudarsana’s descendants, namely, Sri Rama and Lakshmana, also performed worship of Devi during the Sharana Navaratri and were blessed with Her assistance in the recovery of Sita.

Sharad Navaratri
Commences on the first and ends on the tenth day of the bright half of the lunar month Aswayuja/Asvina.

‘The Navaratri festival has to be celebrated during the bright fortnight of the month of Asvina, in the order of pratipada, etc, until the navami ends,’ says the Dhaumya-vacana.

Navaratri in the year 2010 starts on 8th October 2010 and ends on 16th October 2010 with Vijayadashami celebrated on 17th October 2010.

Rituals
The Navratri commences on the first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvin. The festival is celebrated for nine nights once every year during the beginning of October, although as the dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar, the festival may be held for a day more or a day less.

Navaratri is celebrated in different ways throughout India. In North India, all three Navratris are celebrated with much fervor by fasting on all nine days and worshipping the Mother Goddess in her different forms. The Chaitra Navratri culminates in Ram Navami and the Sharad Navratri culminates in Durga Puja and Dussehra. The Dussehra of Kulu in Himachal Pradesh is particularly famous in the North.

The last four days of Sharad Navratri take on a particularly dramatic form in the state of West Bengal in East India where they are celebrated as Durga Puja. This is the biggest festival of the year in this state. Exquisitely crafted and decorated life-size clay idols of the Goddess Durga depicting her slaying the demon Mahisasura are set up in temples and other places. These idols are then worshipped for five days and immersed in the river on the fifth day.

In Western India, particularly in the state of Gujarat, Navratri is celebrated with the famous Garba and Dandiya-Raas dance. Since the past few years, the Government Of Gujarat has been organising the "Navratri Festival Celebrations" on a regular basis for the nine days of Navratri Festival, in Gujarat. People from all over Gujarat and even abroad come to participate in the nine days celebrations. It is also popular throughout India and among Indian communities around the world including UK and USA.

In Goa, zatra begins during Navratri, entire Antruz (Ponda) is highly ornated. The Saraswat Brahmin temples are beautifully decorated and the idols are taken out for worship. The idols are dressed and adorned with flowers, sandalwood paste, turmeric and kumkum. Devotees come during Navaratri to get the special darshan and what mostly a devotee awaits is the Kaul Prasad, which is as something given from the Gods and Goddess itself. The Deities are emblazoned with flowers and devotees or priests continue to worship the deity without even changing the flowers on them. At the end of the festive night the flowers are distributed as Prasad for the devotees. The Dasha Maitrikas (the 10 sisters of Goa) of the Saraswat Brahmins are taken out to worship - namely, Shantadurga, Aryadurga, Mahalasa, Katyayani, Mahamaya, Kamakshi, Vijayadurga, Bhumika, Mahalakshmi and Navadurga.

In South India, people set up steps and place idols on them. This is known as golu. Photos of typical Golu displayed in Tamil Nadu style at a home in Nerul, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India is shown by the side.

In Kerala, three days: Ashtami, Navami, and Vijaya Dashami of Sharad Navaratri are celebrated as Sarasvati Puja in which books are worshipped. The books are placed for Puja on the Ashtami day in own houses, traditional nursery schools, or in temples. On Vijaya Dashami day, the books are ceremoniously taken out for reading and writing after worshipping Sarasvati. Vijaya Dashami day is considered auspicious for initiating the children into writing and reading, which is called Vidyarambham. Tens of thousands of children are initiated into the world of letters on this day in Kerala.

Navratri is divided into sets of three days to adore three different aspects of the supreme goddess or goddesses.

First three days
The goddess is separated as a spiritual force called Durga also known as Kali in order to destroy all our impurities.

Second three days
The Mother is adored as a giver of spiritual wealth, Lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees inexhaustible wealth, as she is the goddess of wealth.

Final three days
The final set of three days is spent in worshipping the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati. In order to have all-round success in life, believers seek the blessings of all three aspects of the divine femininity, hence the nine nights of worship.

Eighth day is traditionally Durgashtami which is big in Bengal.

In some parts of South India, Saraswati puja is performed on the 9th day. Ayudha Puja is conducted in many parts of South India on the Mahanavami (Ninth) day with much fanfare. Weapons, agricultural implements, all kinds of tools, equipments, machinery and automobiles are decorated and worshipped on this day along with the worship of Goddess. The work starts afresh from the next day, i.e. the 10th day which is celebrated as 'Vijaya Dashami'. Many teachers/Schools in south India start teaching Kindergarten children from that day onwards.

In North India, as the culmination of the Ramlila which is enacted ceremoniously during Dussehra, the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna, and Meghanada are burnt to celebrate the victory of good (Rama) over evil forces on the 'Vijaya Dashami' day.

During Navratri, some devotees of Durga observe a fast and prayers are offered for the protection of health and prosperity. A period of introspection and purification, Navratri is traditionally an auspicious and religious time for starting new ventures.

During this vowed religious observance, a pot is installed (ghatasthapana) at a sanctified place at home. A lamp is kept lit in the pot for nine days. The pot symbolizes the universe. The uninterrupted lit lamp is the medium through which we worship the effulgent Adishakti, i.e. Sree Durgadevi. During Navratri, the principle of Sree Durgadevi is more active in the atmosphere.

Navratri is celebrated in a large number of Indian communities. The mother goddess is said to appear in 9 forms, and each one is worshipped for a day. These nine forms signify various traits that the goddess influences us with. The Devi Mahatmya and other texts invoking the Goddess who vanquished demons are cited.

During the eight or ninth day, Kanya Poojan, pre-pubescent girls are ceremonially worshiped.