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The festival of Navratri began last night. For nine nights to come, the Mother, the Goddess,  the supreme Devi will be celebrated and worshiped in all her names and forms across India.

In her all encompassing avatars of Durga, Laxmi and Saraswati she will reign over our hearts and minds.

She is Shakti, the nameless, formless energy that continuously manifests as the ever changing Cosmos. She is the creative feminine principle. She is the Divine Mother. Just as she holds up the cosmos, she sustains us too. Nurturing us and holding our hands as we navigate our lives. To her we turn for courage and comfort.

And to her we turn to find ourselves.

Although the festival of Navratri is a joyous celebration marked by elaborate pujas, feasts and dancing through the night, it has a deep spiritual significance.

For the first three nights we worship the Goddess as Durga, the warrior goddess who armed with her many weapons destroys all evil. We pray to Durga that she many transform all that is petty and limiting within us, and dispel the ignorance and darkness that envelopes us. For it is only when we are freed of all negativity that we can open our hearts and lives to all things positive.

It is then that we are ready to welcome Laxmi, the Goddess of Abundance.  For the next three days we pray to Laxmi that she may fill our open hearts  and lives with wealth, both material and spiritual.  For it is only when we have tasted abundance and experienced the expansive nature of the Universe that we become ready to receive knowledge and learning, the greatest wealth of all.

This brings us to the last three days of Navratri which are devoted to Sarswati, the Goddess of Learning and Arts. She is also the goddess who holds the secret to the highest knowledge, the knowledge of the Self. We pray that she may grant us that knowledge.

The nine nights are then a journey of the Self towards itself. And, even if we take but just a step, we have at least begun the journey.

Happy Navratri to you !!

Image                Dancing to her tune- Men and women dance the Garba.