In Sanskrit, nava means nine and ratri means night. Navaratri is the festival of nine days and nights that is celebrated with great pomp in India and abroad; dedicated to the worship of Divine Mother in Her three forms namely – Goddess Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. The nine days are equally divided into sets of three days, each of which is dedicated to the worship of these three forms. This is the period of introspection and purification of our mind, following which the last day or the tenth day is known as Vijayadashami (vijaya means victory and dashami means tenth day) referring to the victory of our mind over our senses and attainment of spiritual clarity and self-realization that comes with the worship. This is symbolically represented as the slaying of the evil demon Mahishaasura (Mahishaa means buffalo representing the negative qualities of darkness, ignorance, laziness and inertia in us) by Goddess Durga. This victory of the good over the evil is the crux of the Navaratri celebration.
Significance of Goddess Durga worship
To gain noble virtues, the evil tendencies of our mind need to be destroyed. This destruction is represented by Goddess Durga (‘Durga’ means durgati haarini’ or the one who removes all our evil tendencies). During Navaratri, while performing yagnas or havan (sacrifice) in rituals like Chandi homam, we invoke Goddess Durga as the divine power within us to destroy our animalistic and basal tendencies that causes us to slack and prevents us from maximising our potentials necessary to achieve our spiritual and material goals in life.
Significance of Goddess Lakshmi worship
For knowledge and wisdom to dawn upon us, we need to polish our mind to become pure, focussed and single-pointed. This purification of the mind is obtained through the worship of Goddess Lakshmi. Usually, we relate Goddess Lakshmi to material wealth, but though one might be materially rich, but when the positive values imbibed are not put into practice, a major downfall can happen. Thus true fortune refers to the virtues that we possess, that aids our mind to be prepared to face any challenges in life, without getting anxious and restless.
Significance of Goddess Saraswati worship
Our mind can achieve victory only with the help of right knowledge, clarity of thoughts and by putting our wisdom into good practice. Only an empowered mind can compel us to strive and achieve our best, channelling our energies in the right direction. Such an elevated status of our mind is achieved only by self- realisation and that is obtained through the worship of Goddess Saraswati.
During the first three days, Goddess Durga is worshipped to remove impurities from our mind, after which Goddess Lakshmi is invoked to cultivate noble values and qualities. In the final three days, Goddess Saraswati is invoked for gaining the Supreme knowledge of the Self. When we attain these three, we are spiritually awakened which is the real victory in life (Vijayadashami) as the tenth and final day of Navaratri signifies! Wishing everyone a very happy and blessed Navaratri!