What does Navarathri symbolize?
Navarathri symbolizes the victory of good and the destruction of evil. It sends across an unambiguous message that the evil is not something that remains elsewhere outside, but is present very much as part of one’s own inner selves. The occasion cautions people to be wary of these weaknesses, that are in the form of deep-seated ignorance and various negativities, and exhorts them to acquire the spiritual knowledge that can purify the mind, inculcate virtues, transcend worldly desires and can raise one to the level of achieving the ultimate goal of salvation.
What is the spiritual significance of Navarathri?
Navarathri worships and celebrates the three principal forms the mother Goddess, who remains as the ultimate divine power that sustains the universe. These three forms are Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi, whose divine attributes themselves portray the great significance of the festival.
It is Durga, the destroyer of the mighty Mahishasura, the buffalo headed demon, who is invoked on the first 3 days of Navarathri. Buffalo, the lethargic, slow paced animal, loves to wallow in slush and while away time in idle pursuits. Thus it represents the various negative qualities that are deeply embedded in us and hence, a life of worthlessness and futility itself. Durga, the embodiment of power and strength and the slayer of Mahishasura, is prayed to on these opening days, for vanquishing the similar negative tendencies of ours and for showing us the right path, for marching towards the true goal of our existence.
It is the Goddess of wealth Lakshmi, who is worshipped on the following 3 days. She does represent wealth, no doubt but, she actually stands less for material possessions and more for spiritual wealth. External wealth can, in no way compensate for internal poverty. This Goddess can help to enrich our minds, to purify our thoughts, awaken in us, the great qualities like sincerity, compassion, honesty and self-discipline, and to fill our lives with noble values.
It is Saraswathi, the Goddess of learning and knowledge, who is worshipped in the last 3-day phase. Succeeding in everything else in life will not serve any real purpose, as long as one does not achieve mastery over one’s own mind and win over the self. It is this Goddess who can bless people with that deep understanding and profound wisdom, which can help them to become aware of their true self and hence, of all that, which truly matter in the world.
The same theme of destruction of the wickedness that resides within ourselves, is symbolized by the enacting of Ramlila during Navarathri, in many parts of the country. This stresses the need to welcome Rama, the virtues into our hearts, for annihilating the vices of Ravan.
Raas Kreeda, the dance of merriment that Krishna did with the Gopis in the distant past, is also enacted during Navarathri. Once the mind gets freed, it is only bliss that fills the self and this state is represented by this dancing with gay abandon.
The great festival of Navarathri thus signifies the cleansing of our own selves of immoralities, by the conscious inculcation of nobilities.