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NAVARATHRI CELEBRATIONS
Navaratri or Dasara is being celebrated throughout our country. These are being celebrated to remember how Devi Durgamatha killed various demons in order to bring peace. She waged war against various demons and their followers, the demon soldiers. All these are elaborately written in Devi Bhagavatham and many other Puranas. Kanyaka Parameswari who is Matha herself is worshipped as Parvathi. Hence during the Navaratri days Kanyaka Parameswari is specially worshipped in nine forms or avataras one each day. Special decorations, costumes, weapons are given to the Utsava Vigraham to form various avatars. A small effort is done to describe each one in brief.

SREE RAJARAJESWARI DEVI:
Amma is praised as Chidrupi, Paradevatha, Bhagavathi, Rajarajeswari (from Lalitha Sahasranamam). She is Jnana Swaroopini (the embodiment of Jnana or wisdom). She holds in her right hand the wand of the universal ruler and in the left she hold a sugar cane. Sugarcane is symbolic to sweet juice, the juice of bliss (Atma Gnana – the self realization). She wears jewels on the shoulders made of diamonds and other costly stones. Her wears beautiful diamond chains, broad ear rings and so many jewels. She is Alankara Priya. According to Indian culture which as old as the creation of humanity wearing of jewel all over the body is a symbol of prosperity which brings good to family. You can see no woman without at least a single jewel in India.
Being Mother of all, she is the great ruler of the three lokas. All the living beings are her children, she blesses them all. She thrashes those who are wicked and arrogant and harmful to other.
Suratha was a king who was defeated and thrown out his kingdom. Rajarajeswari Devi protected her devotee and brought him back to the throne. She also made him the future ‘Manu’.

SREE BHAVANI DEVI:
The deity who presides over the second day of Dasara is Bhavani. So Vasavi Devi is decorated as Bhavani.
The goddess Durga is worshipped by us as our mother. This is our tradition. She is present everywhere. She is ever agile and active. Otherwise how can she activate the whole universe without a flaw? Hence we pray Devi, Thou art our mother, thou art present in every element and creature. We salute thee. Goddess Bhavani emerges from the Chidagni Kundam – the holy fire place – in her godly stature with four arms as if to present us the sour purusharthas - which are to be achieved by every hu7man being. They are Dharma, Artha, Kama and Mouksha. She holds damarukam in one hand which send the sounds which are 24 sutras (formulae) for Sanskrit grammar. Inher second hand she holds a white Knach (Sankaham). This is one of the precious things, symbolizing riches. In the third hand she holds an open sword for punishing the wicked. In the fourth she has a shield signifying protection from the wicked and immoral fellows. She has jewels for each part of her body. She is descibed as Sarvangabharana Shobitha – meaning glorified by the precious and shining jewel worn all over her body.‘Bhava’ is the one name of Sri Sankara Bhavani means she is the wife of Lord Shiva (Bhava). She is satisfied easily by mere Bhavana (thought) and she cures all ills and she makes us happy. She showers boons on us.

SREE SHARADA DEVI:
Adi Sankara praised Devi Sarada as “Bhaje Saradambaam Ajasram Madambam” Goddess Saraqda. Thou are my mithger, I pray thee, I praise thee, I chant thy name. Please look at me with your kind and pleasing edyes through which nector spills on thy devcotees. In the right hand there is Jnana mudra the tip of the index finger touches the thumb in a circle and other three fingers set straight. This indicates the Jeeva and Brahma are united. That god, the parabramha is one with the living man (jeeva ). In the second hand she holds boo0ks – vedas. There are towo temples of Sarada which are very famous in India. One is at Sringeri on the bank of the river Tunga ( A tributary of the Krishna) in Karnataka and other is in Kashmir. Devi Sarada is worshipped with special fervour and adoration during Sarat Ritu (during September and October). She is the presiding deity for education and for the flourishment of mind. She is being worshipped by all the Trimurthis. She is ever smiling, as she is the embodiment of eductioj and wisdom. We prostrate befor4e you oh! Mother – please make our minds are full of Jnana and Wisdom.

SREE GAJALAKSHMI DEVI:
This is the most sacred form of Lakshmi Devi. Elephants are her mates. She wakes up to the trumpets of elephants. She is the transfigured form of riches and wealth. She is as great as a large mountain, as big as an elephant and as high as the sky. Hence it is symbolic that two elephants are there to serve her on either side. Oh! Lakshmi! You are bathed by the two splendid elephants from either side with the holy water of Akasha Ganga fill in golden Kalasas which are studded with precious stones and you holding a bright lotus in your hand. Please graciously come to my house and make it your own abode. That is Gaja Lakshmi, the Goddess of pleasure and prosperity. Lakshmi is born out of the sea of milk which it was charned. The elephant Iravatham preceded her as if symbolizing that this race will be at her service. Moreover elephant is symbolic to wisdom, balanced and matured mind, notto be deterred under any condition. Such elephants are at the service of Sri Mahalakshmi. Sri Gajalakshmi has bright and ever shining and circulating eyes. Her eyes are not still because she makes her kind looks fall on each and everyone. That’s why she is called Chanchalakshi. She wouldn’t be at a place. Ever ever moving nature (chanachala swabhava) shows that her benedictions are showered on every one in turns. Oh! Mother! Pranams at your feet.

SREE SARASWATHI DEVI:
Saraswathi mathqa is worshipped on the Moola Nakshatra Kay in Aswiyuja Masam during Navaratri. This is an auspicious day for saraswathi puja. She represents “Satva Jnana” – calmness and serenity. She is the presiding deity of knowledge and wisdom. Wisdom is the judicious use of knowledge. Hence knbowledge and wisdom must go hand in hand.That is jnana. Jnana mingled with Bhakti leads to Moksha. So knowledge is the fundamentalnecessity and Saraswathi rupam of Amma is so adoring. That day Mother Durga is decorated to appear in Swaraswathi Alankaram. She has the purest white crystal Mala in one hand and a white lotus is in another. The lotus represets serene beauty. She holds books and holds the Veena. Books represent wisdom and Veena represents the fine arts. Without her blessings no intelligible soound is even uttered nor can’t be understood. With her divine light she shatters away the darkness of ignorance.“Lead kindly light” Amid the encircling gloom Lead those me on.

SREE MAHISHASURA MARDANI DEVI:
The king of Rakshasas Mahishasura defeated Indra. All the Devas went to Brahma to relieve them from the tortukres of Mahisasura. Along with Brahma they went to see Shiva and Keasva. An enormous beam of light emerged out of alll the angry devas and took the form of a woman. The Devas were very pleased and presented her the energies of their powerful godly weapons. She was Durga shiva gave his Trisulam, varuna gave his Sankham, Yama gave his sword, Surya installed all his powerful rays of light in her hair. Thus every Deva gave his power to her.
Collecting all those powers, Goddess Durga became Mahisasura Mardani, that is the one who killed the power ful demon Mahishasura. The goddess who has the brightness of one crore rays of the sun wears red clothes. She will be wearing the skulls of chanda and Munda the two demons whom she had killed earlier. That is why she is called Kapalamaladhara. The garland of skulls is a warning to all the torementors of humanity and nature in general. But her looks appear to be pleasant to her worshippers and those who pray for her protection in spite of her fierce form. She is our mother and she showers her benevolent and pleasant looks on her children. She fought a fierce battle with mahishasura and pierced the Sulam into the throat of the demon. Still the demon stod up and began to fgitht. Then she severed his head from his trunk. Seeing the fall of Mahishasura his armky fled away. The Devas were hilarious at the success of Durga. They praised Durga immensely and the Goddess became pleasant looking once again.“Mahishanthakari Yenapujitha sa Jagat Prabhutha”
Meaning : If Mahishasuranthakari i.e., Mahishasura Mardini is worshipped then one will become the ruler of the universe.

BILVA VRUKSHA NIVASINI : (PARVATHI DEVI)
Bilva (Meredu in Telugu) is a very holy leaf for Shiva and Ammavaru. It is our tradition to take the Utsava Vigraham of Ammavaru in Parvathi Devi Alankaram to a Biva Tree and seat her under it. Then traditional Pujas are performed in praise of the Goddess. This occasion is celebrated on Shukla Shasti combined with Jyesta star during Dasara.
“Vindhystham, Bilvanilayam, Divyasthana Nivasineem!
Yegineem Yoge methancha, Chandikam Pranamamyaham” Oh! Devi! You amble under the cool shade of Bliva tree with great ease. You are a Yogini, you are Yogamatha. We salute you, Mother.From this sloka we understand that Bliva tree is very dear to Paravathi Devi. There is a regerencve of Bilva Tree in Sree Suktam also.
Aditya Varne Thepasisodhi jatho Vanspathi Stheva Vrulashdhi Bliva
Even the fruits of Bilva are also considered to be holy Oh! Mother! Bilva is your tree. It is called Sree Vrukaham. Kindly distance away my poverty and unhappiness. The twigs have three leaves. (Dala) it is a medicinal plant too. Hence the tree is adorable. So we worship Bliva Viharini – the Devi who lives under Biva tree.

SREE ANNAPURNA DEVI :
Annam (Anna) is food. Annapoorna is the presiding deity of anna or food. She is present in the food we eat. Every living creature is evolved only because of the food. If there is no food there is no living creature. Annath Bhavathi Bhautami – Bhagavad Gita. What is eaten is called anna or food. Bhrugu, son of Varuna did penance and discovered the truth that is Anna is parabrahma that is food is god. The only one mother woho feeds all the creatures is Annapoorna. In one hand she qahs a vessel containing food and in the other there is the ladle to seve food. She is ready to serve. Even our own mother willnot give us food unless we request her. But annapuirna Devi, she knows our hunger. She is hunger itself and she is the one who quenches the hunger.Hunger is in a way symbolic to Jnana. ;you ask for Jnana Bhisha that is you beg for Jnana, you will be presented. Feeling hungry is symbolic to your hunger for jnana. Annapoorna, the wife of Sankara gives us the Bhiksha of reunuciation (Vairagyam).

SREE DEVI VANA VIHARINI :
Bhuvana Sundari, the matha is very; interested in taking strides through glorious gardens. In gardens and woods there reside the deities who are called Vana Devathas. The whole nature, if we consider as the beautiful woods and forests as a stree murthi, that is our mother, she is the Vana Devatha. We are happy that our rishis gave us the inhstinct to see God or Goddess in every item of the nature more so in the astoounding,l awe inspiring forests. In order to make us realize Ammavaru is called the one who wants to play with the Vanadevathas in woods or gardens of the places or temples

Thus we will realize the presence of beauty of the nature and feel that the realizde the presence of beauty of the nature an feel that the nature is our mother. In several lof our strotrams we have a regference of trees to god. In Vishnu Sahasranamam we have “Varuno, Varuni Vruksha”. In Bhagat Gita Sri Krishna says I am found in Aswartha Vruksha. In Rudra Namakam we have “Vrukshebhyo, Harikesehyo”. Hence Gods who are in the form of trees, are responsible for givbing us, sun, rain and cold. Without trees the whole earth becomes barn and dry. Even the air we breathe is a boon form the vanadevathas. Sao “Vruksho Rakshitha”. Meaning: protect trees and they will protect you. Such fine lessons are there in our traditions poja, rituals, festivals and our daily prayers. So please follow our old traditions evenif you don’t understand why we should. As you follow them blindly in the beginning you will get to know everything. The cvhild doesn’t know why mother holds his finger and makes him stand and stagger slowly. Later on he will come to know that she did so, so that he could stand on his legs steadily, walk erect without stumbling and run keeping pace with the world. If the child questioned the mother she couldn’t answer and the child would refuse to stand and hold her finger. So don’t ridicuyle our traditions, rituals, festivals and gods etc., if they are not intelligible. Follow them faithfully. If you don’t see the other end of the ocean don’t say there no end. You journey patiently. You have faith in those who have seen the other end of the ocean. Similarly you trust our great seers, our rishis, our scriptures, our books, our poets, our elders and contilnue your life’s journey then you will see the joy of our traditions and rituals. They describe the eclasy of visualizing the Supreme.

SREE VIJAYA LAKSHMI DEVI :
After nine days of fight with the demons Ammavaru demolished Mahishasura and became victorious. So to celebrate the occasion Sri Ammavaru is taken in procession in the form of Vijaya Lakshmi. Smiling victoriously, Goddess Vijaya Lakshmi sits in a swing and gives the darshan to the cheering of all. We don’t know how the devathas cheered her then. But we, in Proddature cheer her lustily. Wounderful fire works are burnt to celebrate her victorious march through our streets. Lakhs of people from the surrounding villages and towns pour in to see her glory. That is proddatur, the second Mysore.

Conclusion :
We have been celebrating these Navaratri festivals with great religious fervour and grandeur. After these nine or 10 days (sometimes) of festival there is a grand finale in the form of Vasanthotsavam. Sri Kanyaka Parameswari will come into our streets, oour houses to play Vasantham. This water is mixed with turmeric powder would be kept ready at every house. Elders, youngsters, boys and girls will pour turmeric water on each other and enjoy. Later in the evening there will be a grand feast for all the 102 Gotrajas of the town hosted by the Sabha. This feast is treated as Prasadam of Ammavaru.

 


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