O Goddess Durga! My mother!
You, the mother of universe,
It’s you who takes care of it
And removes glooms of hearts.
from Prayer to Goddess Durga, by S. D. Tiwari
Praises and blessings to the Divine Mother of All, Durga Ma!
Her Autumn festival begins today!
Navratri, the Nine Night festival in celebration of Durga comes four times a year – one in each season.
The Fall and Winter celebrations are particularly sacred to the worshipers of Divine Mother.
During these celebrations devotees chant the Chandi, make puja, and sing of Durga’s glory from dawn till dusk. Some will fast during this time.
On the culmination of the eighth day there is a special puja with much singing, dancing, and feasting.
This is the celebration of the triumph of Good over Evil, and the acknowledgement of the sacred Goddess, Mother of God and Life itself.
The 10 days and 9 nights of Navratri are filled with ritual chanting, prayers, feasting, and celebration. There are beautiful public altars and shrines on every street. Calcutta, in particular, is famed for its spectacular celebrations and carnival atmosphere.
In some places in India, festivities include traditional dance and music, and by some customs last late into the evening, and sometimes the entire night long.
Farmers sow their seeds and thank Durga for Her blessings, asking for a healthy crop as women plant nine different types of grain in small containers and offer the saplings to the Goddess.
The time of Navratri is both a time of introspection, purification, and then great merriment.
Here is some background on this powerful, beloved Goddess and Her joyful festival, taken from several Hindu devotional sites:
Origin of Durga – The Mythology
Devi is the great goddess of the Hindus, the consort of Shiva and She is worshiped in various forms corresponding to Her two aspects: benevolence and fierceness.
She is Uma, “light”; Gauri, “yellow or brilliant”; Parvati, “the mountaineer”; and Jagatmata, “the-mother-of-the-world” in Her milder guise. The terrible emanations are Durga “the inaccessible”; Kali, “the black”; Chandi, “the fierce”; and Bhairavi, “the terrible.”
Descent of the Goddess
Durga, a beautiful warrior seated upon a tiger, was the first appearance of the great Goddess. The circumstance of Her miraculous arrival was the tyranny of the monster-demon Mahishasur, who, through terrific austerities, had acquired invincible strength.
The Gods were afraid of this water-buffalo bull because neither Vishnu nor Shiva could prevail against him. It seemed that the joint energy of Shakti was only capable of vanquishing Mahisha, and so it was the eighteen-armed Durga who went out to do battle.
She went to battle on Her ferocious mountain lion, armed with the weapons given to Her by the other Gods.
Durga is one of the angry and aggressive aspects of the Goddess Shakti, whose role in Hindu mythology was to fight and conquer demons, and also personify the female aspect of any male deity.
In the battle, She fought and killed the evil Mahishasura and restored heaven to the Gods. Since then the Goddess is invoked for protection from the powers of evil.
Durga Puja is observed in Her honor, to celebrate Her victory over evil.
The Great Mother of Us All
She has been worshiped from 400 CE, to the present, but Her origins are probably much older, and in Her most ancient aspect, She was closely identified with fertility and the land.
Her literary references are chiefly the Ramayana and Mahabharata, epic and Puranic texts, and She is mentioned by name in Vedic literature.
In northern India, Durga is more familiar in Her aspect as the gentle bride, epitomizing family unity, while in southern India She is revered more in Her warrior aspect.
Praises on high, to the Great Mother, our protector, nurturer, and bringer of love.
May our dear Durga always be near us, protecting our world from those who still lurk, hoping to poison all that is good, and enslave all that lives.
Durga Durga Durga Jai Jai Ma
Karuna Sagari Ma
Kali Kamapini Ma
Jagado Dharini Ma
Jagadambe Jai Jai Ma
(Durga, Durga, Durga, Victory Victory Mother
Ocean of Compassion, Ma
Kali wearing a garland of skulls, Ma
Savior of the Universe, Ma
Mother of the Universe, Victory, Victory Mother)