The Nine Nights of the Goddess Start Tonight
(click song at bottom to hear a wonderful Durga bhajan).
One of the reasons I love the Goddess Durga is because she slays the demon without anger or rancor; her faces remains impassive. She does it because it has to be done.
She has power and uses it wisely, but does not let it sully her.
And she is fearless.
We could learn a lot from her.
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The first three days of Navratri are devoted to Durga, who destroys evil.
The second three days are devoted to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.
The final three days are devoted to Saraswati, who represents knowledge, music and the arts.The Tenth Day is Dussara - which denotes the victory of truth over evil and the triumphant ovation of the soul at having attained liberation while living in this world. Dussara was the day when the Goddess Chamundi (Durga) killed the demon Mahishasura - from whom the city of Mysore gets its name.
From Swami Sivananda:
Durga Puja is the greatest Hindu festival in which God is adored as Mother. Hinduism is the only religion in the world which has emphasised to such an extent the motherhood of God. One's relationship with one's mother is the dearest and the sweetest of all human relations. Hence, it is proper to look upon God as mother....
Durga is the energy aspect of the Lord. Without Durga, Shiva has no expression and without Shiva, Durga has no existence. Shiva is the soul of Durga; Durga is identical with Shiva. Lord Shiva is only the silent witness. He is motionless, absolutely changeless. He is not affected by the cosmic play. It is Durga who does everything....
The Mother's Grace is boundless. Her mercy is illimitable; Her knowledge infinite; Her power immeasurable; Her glory ineffable; and Her splendour indescribable. She gives you material prosperity as well as spiritual freedom.
Approach Her with an open heart. Lay bare your heart to Her with frankness and humility. Be as simple as a child. Kill ruthlessly the enemies of egoism, cunningness, selfishness and crookedness. Make a total, unreserved, and ungrudging self-surrender to Her. Sing Her praise. Repeat Her Name. Worship Her with faith and unflinching devotion. Perform special worship on the Navaratri days. Navaratri is the most suitable occasion for doing intense spiritual practices. These nine days are very sacred to the Divine Mother. Plunge yourself in Her worship. Practise intense repetition of the Divine Name, having a regular "quota" of repetitions per day, and the number of hours spent on it.
Learn more about the Chicago observance of Navratri here.