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Connotations of Navratri

Navratri is a celebration of the holistic dimension of power, of Shakti, or the creative aptitude.

india Updated: Sep 28, 2006 19:42 IST

Come Navratri and the concept of divine energy of Devi is reinforced. At the basic level, the nine days turn into a social jamboree for women, whether it is at the Golu functions of the South, or the Durga Puja of the East. ]In the North, the girl child overcomes her secondary status temporarily when she is worshipped as the Kanchak, the Divine Virgin.. Whether as Ambal or Durga or Mata Rani, the nine days explore and reinforce the multifaceted Godhood of the Devi.

Hindu philosophy - like an onion - unpeels several levels, each different, yet creating a whole. At one level, Navratri is an agrarian festival praying to the goddess of fertility as symbolized by the nurturing of the Khetri (the wheat and barley grains that are sown in a mud pot and nurtured through the nine days). At another level the festival invokes the religious connotation of the Devi coming to bless supplicants, as She blessed Shri Ram just before his epic battle with evil. Navratri goes further to encompass the need for men and women to explore within themselves the resilience of strength since Godhood is within us.

Navratri is thus a celebration of the holistic dimension of power, of Shakti. Etymologically the word Shakti is derived from the root “Shak”, meaning potency or the potential to produce, the creative aptitude. Specifically it means the creative energy, which is understood as feminine.

The Soundarya Lahiri composed by Adi Shankara opens with the potent words “Sivah saktya yukto yadi bhavati saktah prabhavitum/na ched evam devo na khalu kuslah spanditum api.” “United with Shakti, Siva is endowed with the power to create the universe. Otherwise He is incapable even of movement.” Woman has the initiative to seek knowledge. Knowledge gives her the power to explore and assert her Shakti. Power further fuels her sense of enterprise and expands the horizons of her knowledge. And so it goes on, with the vital rider that the women have to introspect to unleash their Shakti. For the Devi is within. She has only to be invoked.