The Celebration of Navaratri
QHS were able to learn a little more about an important Hindu Festival in our recent assembly. P4AG spoke clearly, and danced beautifully, in telling the story, which is summarised below:
Navaratri (or Navratri) is a Hindu festival that lasts for nine days in early autumn, and celebrates the female aspects of God’s character. Traditions vary throughout India and the world, but in our assembly we will concentrate on the more common features.
The date of Navaratri changes every year because the traditional Hindu calendar depends on the phases of the moon. This year the Hindu festival of Navaratri began on September 29 and it lasts for nine days. It’s a time when Hindus gather together to celebrate the power of the Mother Goddess.
Hindus believe that God is a spirit with no body. This can be a difficult idea to get your head around. They believe that everything in the natural world comes from God and that everything is a part of God. God includes both male and female aspects.
The most important Gods are; Brahma - the Creator, Vishnu – the Protector, and Shiva the Destroyer.
But all the Gods depend on Shakti, the female side of God’s personality, to help them. Shakti embodies the creative, caring and protective qualities that the universe needs to exist, and carry on existing. The most important forms of Shakti are the Goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi and Durga.
At Navaratri, all the Goddesses are worshipped, but Durga is given special importance because of a story that tells how she saved the world from the demon Mahishashura.
The festival ends on the tenth day, called Dashera or Dussehra which means “The Day of Victory”. People celebrate with bonfires and even more food. In some parts of India, the statues of Durga that have been used for worship during Navaratri are carried through the streets in a procession, and then plunged into the nearest river. The idea is that the Goddess returns to nature and that her creative power will help the crops to grow in the coming year.
The main message of the Festival is that the power of women in general, and mothers in particular, should be respected.The theme of female empowerment was highlighted heavily throughout the assembly. Therefore, the next time you hear someone say, “You fight like a girl,”- that’s actually a compliment.