Navratri – nine nights of the Goddess

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What’s this?

It’s currently Navratri (meaning nine nights) in India, a major Hindu festival that in 2017 is celebrated from September 21st to the 30th.

There are actually four Navratri festivals during the year, but the post-monsoon Sharad  (autum) Navratri is most the celebrated and important. It honors the divine feminine devi (the Sanskrit word for goddess). The nine nights of Navratri celebrate the nine forms of Durga, one of the most revered and popular forms of devi. Durga is the warrior goddess, and she fights against evils and demonic forces which threaten peace, prosperity and the natural order of goodness in life. 

In the East and North East of India, Navratri is called Durga Puja (prayer ritual), which celebrates the killing of the buffalo demon by Durga. During Dussehra (the final day of Navratri), statues of Durga are immersed in bodies of water such as rivers and lakes in order to purify her. 

In the North and West of India Navratri is known as Ram Lila, which celebrates the killing of Ravana, a powerful demon-king, by the god Rama. During the festival effigies of Ravana are burned.

Although celebrated differently all over India, Navratri shares a common theme of the battle and victory of good over evil based on the Ramayana, an ancient Indian text which tells the story of how Rama rescues his wife Sita from Ravana. 

You’re probably going to be wondering what the foot of a tiger statue has to do with Navratri. Unfortunately I don’t have a photograph of the goddess Durga that’s good enough to show here, but you can see in these images of her here that she’s often depicted with 8 arms, holding a symbolic object (many of which are weapons) in each hand, and sitting astride her mount, a lion or a tiger. I love the idea of a goddess going out to battle evil and I especially love it that she does so on my favourite of big cats, the tiger!  

You may also want to read my post about Navratri from 2016 Navratri – Shakti power!

Where’s this? 

Udaipur, Rajasthan

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