Navaratri- Honoring female deities
Today begins Navaratri, a nine day celebration dedicated to the female energies named Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. In light of my last entry (“Considering Gender in Yoga”), I always welcome this chance to reclaim the feminine in spiritual practices. Navaratri is celebrated by men and women, young and old.
During the years when I ran yoginis studio, we always held open pubic events during Navaratri that included music, chanting, dancing, puja, art, vendors, food and plenty of company! In the virtual studio we share here at YogaHub, I will be posting daily entries on the significance of Navaratri and invite you to consider integrating these aspects into your own yoga practice. Each deity is honored for three day and the final 10th day is designated as Durga’s Day of Victory.
The first three days are devoted to Durga (here September 23, 24, 25 this year although in India the first night was Sept. 22). Durga is the fierce protectress mother, an aspect we all posssess and a quality we all need in our lives.
In statues and paintings she is depicted as the multi-armed goddess (usually six arms, each holding a different instrument) who sits on either a lion or tiger. She is also depicted as spearing the buffalo demon and saving the world as Kali-Ma; a feat the gods could not accomplish. The Devi Mahatmya is one compilation of tales (portions of which are often recited or sung during Durga puja) that describes Her battles and rescues.
The symbolism of this story is rich with interpretations: partially a moral tale of battling evil it can also be read as destroying all aspects that keep us from knowing Her powers (such as our egos). Everyone in some way knows what this fierce protection of a Mother can be.
I was reading one article on Navaratri and it mentioned this time of year being celebrated twice – once at the onset of summer and once at the onset of winter.
Can you tell me what the dates for 2007 will be? 6/21 and 12/21 or when?
Good question, since every year I have to research various calendars, often listing differing dates – and let me explain that since such celebrations are not standardized – the way holidays have become “legal holidays” in the US- the dates may vary according to region. There are two times- more like spring and fall- the autumn date is better known and seems to be celebrated more in South India and now in the States. I’ve also read of different myths attached to these two different times. In 2007 the Vasanta Navaratri (Spring) begins on March 19 and the Autumn Navaratri begins October 12. Not to be confused with Diwali which this year is on November 15.