Salutations to the Divine Mother, Durga, who exists in all beings in the form of intelligence, mercy, beauty. Durga Devi is the consort of Lord Shiva, who creates, sustains and destroys the universe. This festival is observed twice a year, once in the month of Chaitra and then in Ashvayuja.
It lasts for nine days in honour of the nine manifestations of Durga. During Navaratri (the word literally means "nine nights") devotees of Durga observe a fast. Durga Puja or Navaratri commences on the first and ends on the tenth day of
the bright half of Ashvayuja
(September-October). Durga Puja is one of the greatest Hindu festival in which God is adored as Mother. 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. Let us now consider how, on the first three days, the Mother is adored as supreme power and force, as Durga the Terrible.
We pray to Mother Durga to destroy all our impurities, our vices, our defects. She is to fight with and annihilate the baser animal qualities in the spiritual aspirant.
She is the power that protects our spiritual practices from its many dangers and pitfalls. Thus during the first three days, which mark the first stage, we pray for the destruction of the impurities in us with a determined effort.
The divine qualities that Lord Krishna enumerates in the Gita, have to be acquired. This pleasanter side of the aspirant's Sadhana is depicted by the worship of Mother Lakshmi. She bestows on Her devotees the inexhaustible divine wealth or Deivi Sampath during the second set of three days. Once the aspirant succeeds in routing out the evil propensities, and develops Sattwic or pure, divine qualities, he becomes competent to attain wisdom.
He is now ready to receive the light of supreme wisdom and divine knowledge.
At this stage comes the devout worship of Mother Saraswathi, divine knowledge personified, the embodiment of knowledge of the Absolute. Therefore, to propitiate Saraswathi, the giver of knowledge, is the third stage. The tenth day, Vijaya Dasami, marks the triumphant ovation of the soul at having attained liberation while living in this world, through the descent of knowledge by the Grace of Goddess Saraswathi. This day celebrates the victory, the achievement of our goal. Glory to the Divine Mother! Let Her take us, step by step to the top of the spiritual ladder and unite you with the Lord!