Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dasara Celebrations

In India we are celebrating the festival of Dasara or Dashera for the past nine days. Today is the tenth and final day known as Vijaya Dasami.
It is also known as Navaratri/Navaratra meaning nine divine nights. Actually this festival is celebrated for ten days. The important days are Panchami(5th day), Sashti(6th day), Saptami(7th day), Ashtami(8th day, Navami(9th day) and Dasami(10th day). Those who cannot celebrate or pray from the first day can at least do so the last three days. The tenth day is also known as Vijaya(winning or triumph) Dasami(tenth day) celebrating destruction of  the Demon Mahishasura by Goddess Durga. That is why she is also know as Mahishasura Mardhini (killer/destroyer). It is celebrated as triumph of good over bad or evil.

In Hinduism,women have been given importance in the religion and society. They are worshiped as Shakthi or power. There are different forms of power like physical mental, emotional,spiritual,financial and so on. No man can function properly with out these.
The Maha Maya ( great illusion) covers our faculties in this world, so that we cannot learn the eternal truth or the secret of this entire creation, unless we follow one of the paths to seek the truth. Maha Maya is also known as Maha Devi (great Goddess) also known as Mata Rani (the divine Mother) or Maha Shakthi (great energy/power). She is considered to be the creator of the Holy Trinity of Bramha (creator), Vishnu (preserver) and Shiva (destroyer) to create, perpetuate and ultimately destroy the universe or creations. That is why She is also known as Mother of Mothers too.
She herself manifested into three forms; as Goddess Saraswathi (personification of knowledge or wisdom) as the consort of Bramha, Goddess Lakshmi (personification of wealth)as consort of Vishnu and Goddess Shakthi (personification of power or energy) as consort of Shiva. Without their consorts the Holy Trinity cannot function at all.
This is but an indication that for a man to function properly and live happily in this society or world, we women are essential.
During this festival Maha Maya or Maha Shakthi is worshiped in nine different forms known as Nava (nine) Durga; some of them are Saraswathi-goddess of knowledge/wisdom, Lakshmi-goddess of wealth, Maha Kali-the goddess of time or change or destroyer and Maha Durga-the invincible.

The inference drawn here is that women, who are known for their gentle nature, love, compassion, beauty, and who as daughters, sisters, wives and mothers make this world a beautiful place and are the reason for very existence of this world, when needed can and do have the strength and will power to turn into Kali and destroy the evils or obstacles. One should not think that women are weak and helpless. Don't you all agree with me. Its a proven fact. How many times we women have boldly faced so many difficult situations in our lives and helped our men folk out to weather the storms? We are much stronger emotionally though may not be much physically.

This festival has its legend linked to both the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata.

It is widely believed in North India, that as per the Ramayana, Lord Rama  fought with Ravana who abducted his consort Sita, and killed him. After this he returns back to his kingdom of Ayodhya along with his wife Sita and this is celebrated as Vijaya Dasami or Dashera-the tenth day. That is why Ram Leela or the story of Rama is dramatised and presented on the nine days in almost most of the cities, towns and even some villages of North India. On the tenth day his victory is celebrated by burning huge effigies of Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarna. There are also display of various local bands and fire works.

As per Mahabharata, we believe that the great archer Arjuna (one of the Five Pandavas) removed his weapons from  the Jammi (Acasia?) tree on which he hid it when the Pandavas went into Agyatha Vasam (incognito) for an year. He fought against the evil Kauravas and won the battle.The story is given here.
That is why the Jammi tree is worshiped and also all our tools which help us out in our daily life are cleaned and worshiped. It may include, pens, arms, weapons, ploughs, various machinery which help us in our daily life. So today being the Vijaya Dashami, we also cleaned all our tools and machinery-like fans, food processors, tool kit, my sewing machine and other such things.
All these nine days, all over India, one can see people, cleaning their houses, decorating, weeding out old things, worshiping Mother Goddess, making and offering various delicacies along with fruits and  flowers, meeting friends and relatives, visiting temples.Buying new things like clothes, utensils, gold, jewelry vehicles stc is considered auspicious till the festival of Diwali, which follows next. In general we have fun.
Due to the threat of Swine flu and other such diseases, this year most of us opted to stay put in our homes. I am sorry I could not get you any pictures of celebrations. Moreover, this year my family had a very low key celebrations as we lost some dear ones.Here are some of the pictures of the Goddess:
Alchemy Gothic
This the Bronze idol of Maha Kali. See how ferocious she is, wearing, garland of skulls, holding many weapons and with Lord Shiva under her feet.Though she is so ferocious, for her children       (her devotees) she is always the kind mother. She only manifested herself in this form to weed out the evil and help her children lead a happy life.

This is a poster of Kali.

goddess durga ma kali chandi
This is the Goddess Durga also known as Mahishasura Mardhini and all her nine forms around her.

goddess durga ma kali chandi
She is called Simha(lion) Vahini(rider).
She also rides Tiger.
Mother Graphics Motherhood Pictures

In Bengal:

This the most important festival and  one can see the statues made of Goddess using different materials is placed in beautifully decorated stalls or pandals and worshiped. On the tenth day the Goddess is immersed in the available water bodies after a warm farewell. Go through this site they have got some beautiful pictures. I loved the Goddess made of sea shells. It is so very beautiful. My hats off to its creator.
In Gujarath:
The Goddess is worshiped here too, but the specialty is that the girls and women perform a traditional form of dance known as Garba. This is performed during the ceremony singing songs in praise of the goddess. After  the worshiping, men and women  perform a special traditional dance with sticks in their hands known as the Dandiya Raas. This is more of enjoyment and merry making kind of a dance. The beat of the drums, traditional songs, the traditional heavily embroidered ( with coloured threads and mirrors) costumes of the men and women make this dance one of the most beautiful one to watch.
In Mysore:
Here the King in all his finery calls his Darbar and worships the local diety Goddess Chamundi.There is huge procession of the Goddess. You can read the details here.
Today is also the Birth day of great Guru Shri Shirdi Sai Baba. We offer special prayers. I am giving the link here. Please look at the temple and his statue. Here his mortal remains have been placed in a tomb.

Wishing all a very Happy Dasara. May Maa Durga bless us all with health,  wealth, prosperity, happiness and peace...


Mysore said...

Very good informative blog post about Dasara accompanied with rare picture of Goddess........ Thank you :)

Sailaja Sharma said...

Thank you