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Devi Navarathri – Dasara

Significance of Aaswayuja Masam

As per Hindu lunar calendar three major religious events occurs during
Aaswayuja masam the seventh one among the lunar months. They are
Navarathri Brahmotsavam of Lord Sri Venkateshwara at Tirumala temple, Sri
Devi Navarathri festival that is popularly known as Dussera and the month
ending with another famous and popular festival among Hindus, Deepavali
the festival of lights. When the Moon is in the constellation of Aswini on the
full Moon day, that month is denoted as Aaswayuja Masam. It marks the
beginning of a new season known as Sharad Ruthu when the monsoon start
receding and winter season makes a beginning.

During this month when the Sun is transiting in Kanya Raasi (Virgo) Lord
Venkateshwara is worshipped through Brahmotsavam festival that is
conducted for nine days starting from Aaswayuja Sukla Paadyami. On
parallel days Goddess Shakthi is also worshipped across the country. This
period of worshipping the Divine Energy is popularly known as Devi
Navarathri or SharanNavarathri. We find such nine day (Navarathri)
celebrations being held for Lord Sri Rama known as Rama Navarathri, for
Lord Ganesha known as Ganesha Navarathri. Even the Brahmotsavam
festival held at Tirumala for Lord Venkateshwara is also a nine day and night
celebration.

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We all know the significance of a Mother in a Hindu family. Similarly the
Universal Mother, the Divine Energy, Goddess Shakthi is given highest
prominence in Hindu religion who is worshipped by one and all irrespective
of caste and creed. Aaswayuja masam is a favourite month of Goddess
Shakthi who is worshipped throughout this month in some form or the other.

Starting from the very first day the Divine Mother is also worshipped on
several other days of the month apart from Navarathri festival viz…Kojagara
Vratha where Goddess Lakshmi Devi is worshipped on the Full Moon day,
Ghovatsa Dwadasi, 12th day of the dark fortnight when Gomatha (Cow) is
worshipped along with its Calf, Jala Poorna Trayodasi the day when Goddess
Ganga is worshipped, Deepavali when Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on
the New Moon day.

Apart from the above Vijaya Dasami day is also revered as Buddha Jayanthi,
the day Lord Sri Vishnu was born as Buddha, and also as Sri Madhva
Jayanthi, the day Saint Sri Madhvacharya, the founder of Dvaita Philosophy
was born at Pajaka Kshetra near Udupi. Naraka Chaturdasi festival also falls
during Aaswayuja Masam.

Significance of Devi Navarathri - Dasara


The festival that is held for nine days during the bright fortnight of
Aaswayuja Masam starting from the first day (Sukla Paadyami) is known as
Devi Navarathri or Durga Navarathri. Literally Navarathri means nine great
nights when Goddess Shakthi fought with the demon Mahishaasura. These
nine days are very holy and revered days when the Almighty is worshipped
in feminine form.

During Navarathri festival the Mother Goddess is worshipped mainly in three


Divine Energy forms viz…Maha Durga, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswathi,
the embodiments of strength, wealth and knowledge. First three days of the
festival, Sri Devi is worshipped in the form of Goddess Durga, second three
days in the form of Goddess Lakshmi and the last three days in the form of
Goddess Saraswathi. It is said that Goddess Durga manifested in nine
different forms known as Nava Durga. These nine forms of Goddess Durga
are Shailaputhri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kooshmaanda,
Skhandhamatha, Kaathyaayani, Kaalarathri, MahaGouri, and Siddhidhaathri.

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Important days during the nine day festival schedule are,
5th day known as Sri Lalitha Panchami,
7th day as Saraswathi Pooja that generally coincides with Moola constellation,
8th day known as Durgaashtami,
9th day known as Maha Navami and
10th day known as Vijaya Dasami that generally coincides with Sravana
constellation

Different traditions and sampradaya are being followed in worshipping the


Goddess during these days and there is no uniformity in this regard.
Generally She is worshipped during these nine days in the form of Kanaka
Durga, Bala Tripurasundari, Annapurna, Lalitha Tripurasundari, Gayathri,
Saraswathi, Lakshmi, Durga, Mahishaasuramardhini, and Sri Raja Rajeswari.
It is said and believed that worshipping Goddess Shakthi during these nine
days of Devi Navarathri festival will yield merits equivalent to worshipping
Her throughout the year.

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The nine day Devi Navarathri festival is concluded on the 10th day that is
known as Vijaya Dasami. Vijaya means victory and Dasami is the 10th day
in the lunar month. It is celebrated as a mark of victory of Goddess Shakthi
over the Demon Mahishaasura. It is considered as the victory of Good over
the evil. On the day of Vijaya Dasami, Goddess Shakthi is also worshipped
as Aparajitha. Aparajitha means the one who is invincible.

Legend behind the festival


There was a demon by name Mahishaasura who became very powerful with
the boons given by Lord Shiva. He was in the form of a Buffalo. Mahisha
means the Buffalo and Asura means the Raakshasa or the Demon. The
darker side of the boon was that the demon would get killed at the hands of
a woman. Ignoring this, the Mahishaasura started troubling all the Deities
and captured the Heaven. In order to get rid of the demon, all the Deities
including the Trinal Lords, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara transferred their
energies to Goddess Shakthi to fight with him. A powerful battle took place
for nine days between the Demon and Goddess Shakthi. Consolidating all
the Divine energies, the Universal Mother became very powerful and on the
ninth day She defeated Mahishaasura and slained him in her ferocious form
of Durga. Thenceforth She came to be known as Mahishaasuramardhini.

There is also a strong belief that during Thretha Yuga Lord Sri Rama had
defeated and killed Ravanaasura on the day of Maha Navami and Vijaya
Dasami festival is celebrated as a mark of Sri Rama’s victory over Ravana,
triumph of righteousness.

The festival of Vijaya Dasami is popularly known as Dasara that is also


spelled as Dussera. It is a combination of two words Dasa + Hara. Dasa
means ten and Hara means defeated.

Dasahara known in common language as Dasara is a festival of worshipping


Goddess Durga who has destroyed the evil Mahishaasura considered as a
symbol of ten negative passions.

Vijaya Dasami is one of the four most auspicious days as per Hindu calendar.
Other three are Ugadi, Akshaya Thrutheeya, and Bali Paadyami.

It is believed that any venture started on Vijaya Dasami day would bestow
successful results. This festival of Devi Navarathri is celebrated with great
religious fervor in all the Durga related temples across the country.

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Durga worship
Durga is a Sanskrit word meaning invincible. Durga also means a fort.
Durge Durgathi Naashini. Goddess Durga is the one who eliminates the
sorrow and sufferings of her devotees and destroys not only the external
enemies but also the internal enemies (negative passions) and protects
them from all the evils. She is the one who bestows auspiciousness and she
is auspicious to the auspiciousness. Shakthi Upasana is prevalent in Hindu
philosophy since time immemorial. In majority of Hindu families we find
Goddess Durga worshiped as their Kula Devatha (family Deity). It is said
that Pandavas used to worship the Goddess Hinglaj Matha (a form of
Goddess Durga) as their Kula Devatha, a temple of which one can find near
Somanath in Gujarat State.

Like Lord Vishnu, Shiva and Ganapathi, Goddess Shakthi also has a sect of
followers who are known as Saaktheya. They follow a unique sampradaya in
the worship of Goddess Shakthi. There is an exclusive Pouranic script known
as Sri Devi Bhagavatham dedicated to Goddess Shakthi scripted by Sage
Vedavyasa. Sri Lalitha Sahasranama Sthothram, Sri Devi Sapthasathi and
Durga Kavacham are some of the popular and powerful prayers dedicated to
Goddess Shakthi.

She is known by several other names like Parvathi, Gouri, Chandi, Kali,
Amba, Bhavani etc. Sree Sooktham, Durga Sooktham, Saraswathi Sooktham
are some of the sacred scripts one can find dedicated to the Divine Mothers,
Lakshmi, Durga, and Saraswathi. Several temples across our country are
dedicated to the worship of Goddess Shakthi popularly in the form of Durga.
Prominent among them are the18 great temples exclusively dedicated to
Goddess Shakthi known as Ashtadasa Shakthi Peetas.

Durga worship – Astro remedy


Astrologically Durga worship is given lot of prominence as a remedy for
various mundane problems especially related to Rahu. Worshipping Goddess
Durga during Rahu Kalam and during Rahu Dasa is a very effective remedy
for Rahu Dosha. Chandi Homa, Durga Namaskara, and Swayamvara Parvathi
seva are some of the rituals suggested as astrological remedies.

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Dasara festival and Shami Tree
Shami is a Sanskrit word which is known as Banni in Kannada, Jammi in
Telugu and its Botanical name is Prosopis specigera. This tree is green
throughout the year. The leaves of Shami tree resemble that of a Tamarind
tree. In Hindu religion lot of prominence is given to Shami tree which is
revered as a sacred and divine plant. Its herbs/stems are used while
performing Homa. It is also used in Ayurveda for curing respiratory
problems. Worshipping Shami tree is also considered as an effective remedy
for Saturn’s malefic effect.

It is said and believed that Pandavas during their Agnathavasa (period of


exile in disguise) had secreted their weapons on the top of a Shami tree. On
the day of Vijaya Dasami, Arjuna had taken out his weapons and fought with
Kouravas in Uttara Ghograhana after worshipping Goddess Durga and Shami
tree and became victorious. Since then there is a custom to worship Shami
tree on the day of Vijaya Dasami or Dasara. As per Bhavishyottara Purana it
is said that Lord Sri Venkateshwara (Srinivasa) had worshipped Shami tree
as His Kula Devata before proceeding to marry Goddess Padmavathi Devi.
This shows the significance of Hindu customs and traditions which are in
vogue since time immemorial. On the festival day in the evening people
visit Shami tree situated on the outskirts of their town or village and make
circumambulations to the Shami tree.

Shami shamayate paapam Shami shatruvinaashini


Arjunasya dhanurdhaari Raamasya priyadarshini

Reciting the above sloka, people exchange the leaves of Shami Tree with
their friends and relatives as a symbol of goodwill on the day of Vijaya
Dasami. In order to lead a happy life one need to possess a blend of
knowledge, wealth and strength. To acquire these three essentials of life
one need to invoke the Divine blessings of Goddess Saraswathi the
personification of knowledge, Goddess Lakshmi an embodiment of wealth
and Goddess Durga the personification of strength.

SarvamangalaMaangalye Shive Sarvaartha saadhike


Sharanye Thrayambake Devi Naaraayani Namosthuthe

Sri Krishnaarpanamasthu
bhargavasarma

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