Dear Perumale,

There are a lot of posts due from my side despite the pre-occupation with the festive season over the last month. Was wondering where to begin… why not Navaratri! ๐Ÿ™‚

I have been thinking about the Sri Vaishnava significance of the Dussehra festival, also observed as Navaratri celebrated by people who follow Sanatana Dharma. This festival for 2011 was observed between September 28 – October 7. I have realised this year, the beauty of the number of significant events which are observed from a Sri Vaishnava perspective as follows…

1) 9-day worship of the mother Goddess:

The most popular form of celebration across people in various sub-groups is the respect given to the mother Goddess during the 9 days observed as the Navaratri festival. The most popular type of prayers is to dedicate three days each to Durga (strength), Lakshmi(wealth) and Saraswathi(knowledge) respectively. For Sri Vaishnavas, this would imply paying respects to our dear Maha Lakshmi thaayar, the divine consort of Sriman Narayana.

Why only Maha Lakshmi? When our hearts are dedicated to the lotus feet of Vishnu, we would realise that the Goddess ‘Sri’ He shelters in His right chest would encompass all the auspiciousness one prays for during this period. This has also been represented by the ‘Ashtalakshmi’ or 8 forms of the mother Goddess.

(a) During the first 3 days of Navaratri, we would pay our respects to the powers of strength and courage.

DHAIRYA LAKSHMI is the form of Lakshmi as the Goddess of courage.

(b) During the next 3 days of Navaratri, we would pay our respects to the divine representation of wealth and prosperity.

ADI LAKSHMI (The primordial Goddess), DHANA LAKSHMI (The Goddess of wealth), DHAANYA LAKSHMI (The Goddess of food grains), GAJALAKSHMI (The Goddess of auspiciousness and prosperity), SANTHAANA LAKSHMI (The Goddess who blesses one with off-springs) are the forms which are to be worshipped.

(c) During the final 3 days of Navaratri, we pay our respects to the divine representation of knowledge.

VIDHYA LAKSHMI (the Goddess of knowledge and wisdom) and VIJAYA LAKSHMI (The Goddess of victory and success) are to be worshipped.

Maha Lakshmi thaayar - Golu bommai/doll

There is a tendency among devotees to worship deities in elaborate rituals for personal gains, while rest of the year any kind of worship might be neglected! ๐Ÿ™‚ A better spiritual practice would be to worship these forms of MahaLakshmi for the most basic aspect of thanking Her and respecting a mother for Her powers, rather than for gaining any personal material benefits. Selflessness in worship is most beneficial to the jeevatma.

2) 9th day (Maha Navami) – Worship of Lord Hayagriva:

During the 9th day, we worship the God ofย  instruments, knowledge and wisdom. Along with Vidhya Lakshmi, Sri Hayagrivar is to be honoured. Sriman Narayana in the form of Hayagrivar rescued the Vedas and imparted the knowledge of the holy verses to Saraswathi. On this day we should also respect Saraswathi, especially her divine association and role in honouring Sri Ramanujacharya with the title of ‘Bhashya Kaara’.

3) 10th day (Vijaya Dasami) – Worship of Lord Rama:

Apart from being an auspicious day to learn something new, this day is very significant for the event of our dear lord Sri Rama destroying evil in the embodiment of Ravana.
Dassehra is also considered to be a ten-day battle between lord Sri Ram and the asura Ravana. Sri Rama destroyed the ten heads of Ravana (Dasa-hara). The ten heads also symbolise ten evils within all jeevatmas such as kama (lust), krodha (anger), moha (delusion), lobha (greed), mada (excessive pride), ahankaara (arrogance/egoism), matsarya (jealousy), manas (mind), buddhi (intellect) and chitta (will). On all the days of Navaratri devotees read the Ramayana, especially the Sundara Kandam, with great Bhakti towards the supreme ideal king – lord Sri Ram.

Sri Rama set - Golu display

For the Vadakalai sampradaya, this day is also celebrated as the birthday of Sri Vedanta Desikar.

4) Brahmotsavam at Tirumala:

Special vahanas carry the most beautiful lord, Srinivasa, during the Brahmotsavam festival observed during Navaratri.

Lord Srinivasa adorned in various Saathupadis (Alankaras) riding all His majestic, beautiful vahanas … be it chariots or the divine nitya suris who serve Him. I managed to capture some of the pictures through the SVBC-TTD channel in the form of screen shots. They did present a beautiful coverage, or perhaps the lord by Himself was just so glorious that the telecast looked good! It was a pleasure watching the lord during this utsavam.

Here are some screen captures from the telecast.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

5) Golu – the doll arrangement:

For those observing the Golu/Kolu doll arrangement, this is to depict the various facets of life and for honouring the deities. A special respect is given to the depiction of agriculture and food procurement. It is believed that in ancient times to encourage farming and de-silting of irrigation canals, excess clay was used to make dolls.

Farmers and vendors at work - Golu Display

The golu pandigai (festival) is more a socio-cultural practice than a religious one in the strict sense.

Okay, this turned out to be a really long post. But I wanted to list out the significant events which take place during Navaratri festival from a Sri Vaishnavite perspective. Hope adiyen was able to do justice!

Srimathe Narayanaaya Namah l

Srimathe Ramanujaya Namah l

Some useful sources used for this post: