Saturday, September 19, 2009

Nine Holy Nights

This morning I hardly knew how to write it, let alone pronounce it, but all that changed after receiving a text message from a very special friend in Surinam, South America. Her words
: Subh Navratri.

Ah, you decided to stick around. Well, good for you, because this short post is all it takes to quickly brief you about the Nine Holy Nights. For that is what Navratri literally means in Sanskrit, Nava meaning Nine and Ratri meaning nights.

These nine nights are filled with worship and a vegetarian diet. Some even forego on food and drink as well, or abstain from using salt. That is sofar as the stomach is concerned. Back to the worship itself. During these nine nights the nine manifestations of Durga are worshipped. Durga is considered to be an embodiment of the creative feminine force (Shakti) and the fiercer, demon-fighting form of Lord Shiva's wife, Goddess Parvati.

Now why worship Durga during those nine nights? What did she do to deserve these nights of worship in honour of her? Well, my dears, she saved the world, by slaying an asura, a demon, called Mahishasura. He had unleashed a reign of terror on earth, heaven and the worlds below. None of the gods could defeat him, so Durga was created instead. Thus, she has come to represent the motherhood of God. Durga is the warrior aspect of the Divine Mother.

It is said that when Mahishasura met her, he seriously underestimated her, thinking "How can a woman kill me - Mahishasura the one who has defeated the god trinity". However, Durga gave a roar of laughter which caused earthquake on the earth and this woke Mahishasura up to her powers.

The terrible Mahishasura rampaged against her, changing forms many times, from buffalo to elephant, lion, man and so on. When at one point Mahishasura had half emerged into his buffalo form again, he got paralyzed by the extreme light emitting from the goddess's body. The goddess then resounded with laughter before cutting Mahishasura's head down with her Khorgo. Thus Durga slayed Mahishasura.

As for Shiva-dear, in mainstream Hindu religion, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva represent the three primary aspects of the divine, and are collectively known as the Trimurti. Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the maintainer or preserver, and Shiva is the destroyer or transformer.

Subh Navratri.