I remember as a child how my father taught me and my sister when we were very young, about the trinities in the Hindu mythology. He put it forward in a very logical and simple manner that the description has stuck to me profoundly through all these years…
First there was nothing in this world, so what had to be done ?
1) First we need to create something –> so we have “Brahma the Creator” who created everything….
To create anything, you need to have the knowledge for it, so you have “Saraswathi the Goddess of Wisdom/Learning with him”….
2) Once you have created something, you need to maintain it, look after it and take care of it – protect it…So you have “Vishnu the Protector” who does this job in the universe.
If you have to maintain or take care of anything, you need to have money to do it…So you have “Lakshmi the Goddess of wealth” as his wife.
3) Last when something needs to be done away with, you need to destroy it to enable the cycle of life – So you have “Shiva the destroyer” who does this.
To destroy anything, you need to have the strength and the power for it – so you have “Parvathy, the Goddess of Strength/Bravery” as his wife.
This was so simple to remember and later when I grew up, I started to apply this simple explanation about the trinites to real world things like say for example : take a car – you need to first create a car and to do so, require the knowledge for it. Then you have to maintain the car and take care of it, for which you need the money to do so. Lastly. once its lifetime is up, you need to destroy it to recycle or reuse it, for which you need to have the strength. Viola! I unconsiously started applying this to day-to-day things and found it all the more intriguing…..I think there is a lot that I can talk on this topic like how “Shiva the destroyer'” is not necessarily destruction in the literal sense of the term and so on and so forth….There is a lot to be told on this and I hope to pen down an article on it soon… The point is that i found the above small story that my dad told so effective and easy to remember as a child that I hope to pass it onto my children someday too…Coming back to Navarathri….
Courtesy : ancientindians.net
Parvathi, the Goddess of Strength/Bravery, Saraswathi the Goddess of Learning and Lakshmi the Goddess of Wealth, along with their powerful consorts rule the world with infinite mercy and wisdom. These three goddesses are celebrated and revered throughout the country, especially during the Navarathri Festival. Each goddess is worshipped for three days and her glory is sung and enacted.
Navarathri instantly brings to my mind fond memories from childhood when we used to look forward to keeping the “Bommakolu” – arrangement of dolls. The preparations for Navarathri has to start a couple of weeks in advance, like preparing the “kolupadi”(steps for arranging the dolls), taking the dolls out from their safes, cleaning the dolls, decorating the kolu mantap, planning the kolu neivedyams and invitee lists, planning the give away gifts,planning the pujas, the list is endless.Though there always was a lot of activity prior to Navarathri in the olden days, it has become much more hectic in the present day situation for the working women.
Through all the nine days, neivedyams are made and offered to the Goddesses and slokas are chanted and songs are sungs in praise of Devi. Ladies read the “Lalitha Sahasranamam, Devi Mahatmyam and other Devi puranas through these nine days for prosperity of the family and well-being.
Durgashtami, Mahanavami and Vijayadashami are the 3 most important days of Navarathri. Durgashtami is specially celebrated in Kerala as “Pooja vaipu”(keeping for the pooja). On the evening of Durgashtami, after cleaning the Pooja room, children keep all their books on a decorated stool for pooja. All the holy books like Ramayana, Mahabharatha and other books of religious importance are arranged. The books are then covered with a red silk cloth.
On Mahanavami day, Saraswathi pooja is performed to the collection of books. All family members including the children perform the pooja. Saraswati pooja is also known as “Adachu pooja” (closed pooja) as the books are kept covered and not touched for two days. One is not supposed to read or write on these two days. On the next day, i.e., Vijaya dashami day, punarpooja is done to the collection of books. After the pooja and arathi, the books are distributed to the respective owners. All the members sit facing east and after writing the alphabet (Vidhyarambham or initiation to studies) in rice, start reading the books.Children are sent to school only after Vidhyarambham.
Vidhyarambham or Aksharabhyasam (initiating to the alphabets) is done on Vijayadashami day for children above the age of 2 who are not yet initiated to letters. After the pooja, children sitting on the laps of their parent, are made to write “Om Maha Ganapathaye Namah” followed by all the alphabets on rice filled in a tray. From now on they can start reading and writing. Vijaya Dashami is also celebrated as Aayudha Pooja. People keep all their tools and house hold knives etc., and do pooja to them. Vehicles are also decorated and pooja is done to them.
This year I celebrated Navarathri by offering different Naivedyams and reading ‘Lalitha Sahasranamam’ and other devi slokas on all nine days. A brief photoshoot of my offerings through all these days:
Day 1 – Chickpeas Sundal (Garbanzo)
Day 2 – Kadalai Sundal (Brown chana)
Day 3 – Green gram sundal
Day 4 – Peanut Sundal
Day 5 – Corn Sundal
Day 6 – Green peas Sundal
Day 7 – Moong dal Sundal (Pasi paruppu)
Day 8 – Pal Payasam
Day 9 – Vella Payar (Cowgram)
We didn’t have any dolls this time to keep the kolu, but we did keep our books and laptop 🙂 for pooja this time and tried to do justice based on the limited resources available here. I sang Carnatic songs (thanks to my Carnatic classes that i attend these days) and also our friend had hosted a “Satyanarayan Pooja” on Vijayadashmi day, so it marked a very pious ending to the celebrations. I also managed to get a new entrant to my garden – a “Thulasi” sapling, that you can see in the pic below, which i kept alongside the books offered for prayer.
We also attended the Navarathri Garba at Lewisville along with our friends and had a blast…Snaps are a little blurred as they were taken from a mobile phone.
We ended the festival after writing on the rice, reading a few books on that day and fondly remembering my visits to our family deity at Palghat every year – “Manapully Kavu Bhagavaty”.
Manapully Kavu Bhagavaty
I wish and pray that all are happy and at peace – “Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu”…