To declare to the world, the Divine all-powerful form (sarva sakthi swaroopini) aspect of the Mother the Dasara or Navarathri festival is celebrated. In these ten days (nine nights) we adore and worship the three forms of the mother namely, Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi.
Durga is in the form of energy Sakthi Swaroopini - the physical, mental and spiritual powers are conferred by her; Lakshmi endows us with all types of prosperity (Aiswarya). Saraswathi gives us the power of intellect, the power of discrimination, the power of word.
Our physical mother is truly an embodiment of these three aspects Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi. She confers on us all types of energy and power. She provides us with all manner of wealth and helps us grow and prosper. She also aspires for her children to earn fame and name through their education. All these three Divine principles come and merge in our own mother.
Navarathri festival is intended to make us realise the importance of the mother, to love our mother and to go on the path that will please our mother. On the other hand, people buy some flowers and offer worship to the idols of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi, ignoring the divine aspects of their own mother. Mother who has given birth to you is the very embodiment of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi.
Navarathri is also celebrated in honour of the victory that the Para-sakthi (the Goddess of Energy, immanent in the Microcosm and the Macrocosm) achieved over the Asura (demon) of evil forces.
The Navarathri is the festival to commemorate the victory of good over evil. The Embodiment of Divine Power (of Para-sakthi), in its various manifestations: Sathwic, as Mahasaraswathi, Rajasic, as Mahalakshmi, Thamasic, as Mahakali, was able to overcome the forces of vice, wickedness and egoism, during the nine Days’ struggle and finally, on Vijaya Dasami Day (the Tenth Day commemorating Victory), the Valedictory Worship is done.
Navarathri with Swami in 1946
In the 1940s, Puttaparthi was a small village. However, at festival time, it became quite a busy place, centred on spiritual celebrations with a focus on Sri Sathya Sai Baba (Swami). In 1946, the Navarathri (Dasara) festival was a unique celebration filled with spiritual zeal and miraculous events. The following is a summary of the description given by Srimati Vijaya Kumari in her book Anyadha Saranam Nasthi.
On day one, the simple ashram in Puttaparthi was decorated with flowers and other decorations. The devotees of Swami were filled with excitement. Swami arrived in a yellow robe and a blue veil. Devotees adorned Swami with necklaces and rings on His fingers. When He entered, it was noted that He looked like Mother Durga. Swami alighted the palanquin which was decorated with flowers. The melodious sound of bhajans rang out and the spiritually elevated and excited group slowly made their way through the village of Puttaparthi. Devotees witnessed miraculous events. White vibhuti (holy ash) was streaming from Swami’s forehead in heaps.
On day three, Swami came dressed in a green robe, cream veil, and red dhoti. The darshan (divine vision) He gave His devotees is truly mind boggling: He is described as looking like Mother Parvathi when seen from His left side, wearing a yellow blouse, red zari border, forearm bangles, nose ring and jasmine in His hair. When viewed from His right side, devotees saw Lord Siva, vibhuti on His forehead, trident in hand, matted hair, tiger skin, serpent and most amazingly, a third eye (spiritual inner eye) on His mid forehead.
On day four, Swami alighted a palanquin decorated like a peacock and He looked like Kartikeya (Subramanya), son of Lord Siva and Mother Parvathi. He even had sandalwood paste on His forehead, a sign of Lord Kartikeya. The crowds of devotees grew larger as the days passed.
On each consecutive day of Navarathri, Swami, rode atop a beautifully decorated palanquin and on day 10, Vijaya Dashami day, the day which symbolises the victory of good over evil, Swami gave His fortunate devotees another wonderful event. He performed abhishekam (sacred cleansing ceremony) to the statue of Shirdi Sai Baba while large crowds of devotees watched in bliss. The purpose of this cleansing was to reduce the anger and powers of evil in this world. Swami then distributed prasadam.
Thus Vijaya Dasami 1946 was a spiritually charged holy event orchestrated by Swami and witnessed by fortunate devotees.