A Love for Festivals
Every festival is characterized by vibrant decorations, delicious delicacies; families, friends, and communities coming together to celebrate and enjoy. These are the very reasons we look forward to festivals. They give us a much needed break from the monotonies of daily life helping us lose ourselves for a few moments in the joy of celebrations.
However, every festival has a deeper significance that becomes overshadowed by the festivities. While Navratri – the festival of nine nights is most popular due to the dandiya raas, garba dance, Durga puja and scrumptious food, many of us often forget its real significance.
An Ode to the Mother Goddess
Navratri is a festival symbolized by religious fervor for the Goddess- the divine feminine. Known by several names such as Durga, Kali, Shakti, Amba, etc., the Goddess is revered and venerated all over India and the world. The Goddess is fondly called ‘Mata’ or ‘mother’ and fights with the demon Mahishasur for nine nights to restore balance in the World according to mythology.
In her battle to defeat Mahishasur, the Goddess utilizes 10 weapons bestowed upon her by the masculine Gods who created her- a stronger entity to destroy evil. In actuality, these weapons represent the ideal human characteristics which can defeat evil and help us be better people.
Weapons as Lessons
Let’s learn about the weapons, their symbolism and the lessons they teach.
- About: The sword signifies intellect and wisdom carried by people having a sense of responsibility and the understanding to discern right from wrong.
- Lesson: Man should get rid of his illusions and needs which bind his soul and prevent him from doing or experiencing his real duties.
- Given by: Lord Ganesh
The Trishula (Trident)
- About: The three points of the Trishul represents the past, the present, and the future. The centre spike represents the soul that should ever remain above the past and the future since the past is gone and the future is unsure to become real.
- Lesson: One must live with awareness to love and appreciate every moment of life.
- Given by: Lord Shiva
The Sudarshan Chakra (Thunder disc)
- About: The chakra represents the sphere of life which keeps on revolving till we are alive. It also enjoins humans to exhibit loyalty, love, and devotion to Goddess Durga.
- Lesson: It says us that time destroys everything but with inner awakening goes beyond time.
- Given by: Lord Vishnu
The Vajra (Thunderbolt)
- About: Vajra symbolizes firmness of spirit, character, determination, and supreme power.
- Lesson: Unshaken will power and confidence will shatter challenges and problems.
- Given by: Indra
The Dhanush and Tir (Bow and arrow)
- About: This combination of potential and kinetic powers symbolizes energy; steadfastness and focus on one’s aim.
- Lesson: A person should by himself have the potential to attain goals independently.
- Given by: Vayu
The Bharji (Spear)
- About: The Bharji symbolizes auspiciousness, and pure power of fire. It also represents knowing what is wrong and right and acting accordingly.
- Lesson: Humans have a hidden power to overcome all obstacles in life, to refrain from and never tolerate wrongdoings.
- Given by: Agni
The Shankh (Conch)
- About: It believed that the primordial sound of creation i.e. ‘Om’ originated from the ‘shankh’ when the universe was created. So, it has the power to destroy all the negative energies.
- Lesson: It signifies the sound of God (the good) that is dominant amongst all the sounds of the universe
- Given by: Varuna
The Kamal (Lotus)
- About: The lotus represents wisdom as well as liberation through knowledge. It is also the symbol of Lord Hanuman and symbolizes devotion and surrender.
- Lesson: Do everything with love and devotion and let go of the outcome as the Almighty’s will.
- Given by: Brahma
The Khitaka or Parashu (Club or Axe)
- About: The club or axe will kill the evil and choke it to death. It signifies no fear of consequences when fighting the evil.
- Lesson: We must kill the evil thoughts or cravings like greed that occur in our hearts and minds.
- Given by: Vishwakarma
- About: Several representations of Durga show one hand empty in blessing, or holding the Trishul to kill Mahishasura. But the tenth hand is supposed to be holding a snake symbolizing the consciousness and the masculine energy of Shiva.
- Lesson: The snake symbolizes moving from a lower to a higher state of to experience bliss.
- Given by: Shiva
Navratri, like every festival, is a time to have fun and enjoy the festive atmosphere. But, more importantly it is also a time to pause and reflect on our deeds and life paths; to think about what kind of people we want to become. It is time to welcome the Goddess into our homes and seek her blessing. Happy Navratri!