NAVARATI: CELEBRATING THE DIVINE MOTHER FOR NINE NIGHTS
Durga Puja Festival
Paramahansa Yogananda loved the Divine Mother. He said, "Nature with her diamond-dazzling stars, the Milky Way, the flowers, birds, clouds, mountains, sky--the countless beauties of creation--is the Divine Mother." Her energy, power and Shakti prevades the Universe. She is worshiped and honored all over the world daily, but her great festival is celebrated in different ways in India and all over the world. In northern India, Navarati is celebrated at night with a strong emphasis on understanding her many aspects. In Bengal the festival, called Durga Puja, is the largest religious festival of the year. She is honored with bhajan singing centering on her great love for all humanity. The Chandi is chanted, a scripture describing her triumph over evil. Her image is immersed in the river. In Gujarat she is experienced in dances, such as the garba and dandiya raas. In southern India dolls are placed on the altar steps. Other items placed on the steps are dancers, cows, parrots and clay pots. They symbolize the concept of positive thoughts of the mind.
Mother Durga has many wonderful forms and aspects. Each of the nine nights of her festival celebrates a different aspect. I love Mother Durga in so many ways. This is what I love about Mother Durga: she is the embodiment of Truth. Whenever I see her in a dream, I pay attention because whatever happens in that dream is the Absolute Truth. Every single detail in that dream will be the Truth and will be what I will do. If I do not do it, I will be in trouble. When I see her in a dream, I can not escape the Truth.
The second reason I love her is because she is the most powerful deity, and the only one who defeated this icky demon--a combination of a demon and a water buffalo--called Maishasura. He was terrorizing every thing in the three worlds, and he had to be defeated because he had received a boon from Brahma, the Creator, which was very dangerous. He could not be defeated by man or a god, so the only way he could be defeated was through the Goddess. All the male deities gave her all their weapons. The demon fell in love with her because of her great beauty. He realized he could not have his way with her, so she defeated him with her Trident and the help of her female warriors. She is the One who helps us defeat our own inner demons. The feminine aspects and powers are the way to overcome any thing within the self. One cannot see clearly the Divine without understanding and living the female aspects.
Another thing I love about her is that she stands for her great Principles: justice, right and social change. These are known as the Mother Principles. Every great evolutionary step in the world has been brought about by the Mother Principles and the Mother Shakti Energy. Gandhi, when he helped bring about independence to India, used the Mother Principles. In fact, Mother Durga was the symbol of the Indian Independence Movement. When he was in jail, his wife went out and delivered the speeches. He could not have accomplished what he did without the help of his courageous wife.
Three great women who used the Mother Principles are: Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks and Rachel Carson. Even though they were not aware of the principles, they lived them to the highest form possible. Susan B. Anthony helped bring about the right to vote for women along with a number of great women and men. Rosa Parks sat in the front of the bus and started the American Civil Rights Movement. Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring and initiated the ecological movement by exposing the dangers of DDT.
The other thing I love about Mother Durga is her transport: the big cats, tigers and lions. The lion represents power, will and determination. Pandit Rajin Balgobind says that when she rides the lion, it represents mastery over all these qualities. But the very best thing about her is the ROAR OF HER LION. ROAR! TYRING ROARING TODAY!
Mother Durga says, "I am the Mother and I approve this message!"
JAI SHRI NAVARATI!
JAI SHRI DURGA!