Goddesses, demons and lights as city Hindus prepare for Diwali celebrations
Navratri, Dussehra and Diwali. October and November are busy periods for celebrations in the Hindu calendar.
Most people know of Diwali, the ‘Festival of Lights’, goodness overcoming evil, light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair, but very few are aware of Navratri and Dussehra which proceed the Diwali celebrations.
In each of the festivals the goddesses play a significant role of creating harmony, love and peace.
Navratri is a nine-night Hindu festival held in honour of the divine feminine, symbolising triumph of good over evil. It is also known as ‘Durga Puja’. The goddess Durga is depicted as having ten arms, each arm is symbolic; including loyalty, love, courage, righteousness, happiness and passion.
She defeats the demon Mahishasura and it is Lord Rama who turns to Durga for advice and blessings to help defeat demon king Ravana.
During this period the goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped as three different manifestations of cosmic energy. Saraswati is goddess of wisdom and arts. Laxmi is goddess of wealth.
Navratri finishes on the 9th night. On the tenth night it is Dussehra, it commemorates the victory of the god Rama over the demon king Ravana.
The ten-headed demon Ravana is slayed by Rama because he kidnaps Rama’s wife Sita. The ten heads of Ravana can represent desires and emotions, lust, anger, greed, delusion, pride, envy, hatred, fear, insensitivity and ego. Effigy of Ravana are burnt on this day.
This year, Dussehra is on Thursday 18th October.
After the defeat of Ravana, Rama and Sita return back to their people after 14 years of exile. People light rows of clay lamps to show the path home, the lamps also signify the victory of goodness over evil.
This year Diwali will be celebrated 7th of November 2018.
As Diwali is seen as the start of a new year many Hindus honour the goddess Laxmi. She is the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
For many Hindus their year starts with prayers to a goddess, Laxmi, and also finishes with prayers to goddesses, Durga and Saraswati.