Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Ninth Night

I wanted to understand the story behind the worship of the goddess Durga, so this week I spent some time researching about the Navratri festival.  Durga, it seems, has many incarnations the story of why she is worshipped for 9 days is tied up with the story of the buffalo demon, Mahishasura.  

Mahishasura was a demon who terrorized the earth, but he couldn’t be killed by any of the gods because he had a protective spell on him that stopped any males from killing him.  The story goes that hundreds of years ago, there was a terrible battle between the gods and the demons.  The gods lost the battle and then went to the superior gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and told them about their defeat. These gods were furious, and in their anger, parts from all the gods came together and another life was created, all in one single female form.  The great goddess Durga was born, and she battled with Mahishasura and after 9 days of battle she was able to defeat him.

Navratri is divided into sets of three days, each section is devoted to one of the goddesses,
which symbolise an aspect of womanhood. On the first three days Kali is worshipped - she is the
goddess of honour, who destroys all impurities and sins. During the next three days Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth is honoured. It is believed that she blesses her devotees with luck and prosperity. On the fifth day, all books are gathered and a lamp is lit to call upon Saraswati, who is the goddess of knowledge and wisdom who is worshipped for the final three days.  On the eighth or the ninth day,
many people take part in a ‘yagna puja’, at their own home or attend the one at their local

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