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15.10.12

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Festival of Dasara
 
Festival of Dasara
Vijaya Dashami also known as Dasara, Dashahara, Navaratri, Durgotdsav… is one of the very important & fascinating festivals of India, which is celebrated in the lunar month of Ashwin (usually in September or October) from the Shukla Paksha Pratipada (the next of the New moon day of Bhadrapada) to the Dashami or the tenth day of Ashwin.  
This festival is celebrated not only in India but in almost all eastern countries like Java, Sumatra, Japan etc... Dasara is Nepal’s national festival.   
Word DASARA is derived from Sanskrit words “Dasha” & “hara” meaning removing the ten (10). This is the most auspicious festival in the Dakshinaayana or in the Southern hemisphere motion of the Sun.  In Sanskrit, 'Vijaya' means Victory and 'Dashami' means 10th day. 'Thus Vijaya Dashami' means victory on the 10th day.
Dasara is also known as Navaratri, as in the first nine days the Divine Mother Goddess Durga is worshipped and invoked in different manifestations of her Shakti. The 10th day is in honor of Durga Devi.  The basic purpose behind this festival is to worship feminine principle of the Universe in the form of the divine mother to remind the teachings of the Taitareeya Upanishad, "Matru Devo Bhava."  Essence of the navaratri celebration at social level is to remind & respect all the women, who are the guardians of the family, culture, and national integrity, to take lead in times of crisis to guide the humanity towards the path of social justice, righteousness, equality, love, and divinity.    
Durga is worshipped as the main deity of Navaratri by all the segments of society including tribal communities.  Dasara coincide with the period of rest & leisure of the farmers after their strenuous hard work in their farms & fields, hence they invoke blessings of Durga in order to have a rich harvest in the next coming season. 
In India harvest season begins at this time and as mother earth is the source of all food the Mother Goddess is invoked to start afresh the new harvest season and to reactivate the vigor and fertility of the soil by doing religious performances and rituals which invoke cosmic forces for the rejuvenation of the soil. 
On the day of Dasara, statues of the Goddess Durga are submerged in the river waters.  These statues are made with the clay & the pooja is performed with turmeric and other pooja items, which are powerful disinfectants and are mixed in the river waters.  This makes water useful for the farmers & yields better crops.
Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Hindawi (Hindu) Swarajya used to always worship Lord Shiva & Goddess Durga in the form of goddess Bhawani before any military expedition.  Goddess Bhavani had blessed Shivaji Maharaj with her own sword called “Bhavani Talwar”.
Buses, trucks and huge machines in factories are all decorated and worshipped as Dasara is also treated as Vishwakarma Divas - the National Labor Day of India. 
Veda Vyasa is considered as the foremost Guru and Vijayadasami is also celebrated as Vyasa puja.
Dasara is the festival of Victory of Good over Bad, God over Devil. 
Festival of Dasara


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  • 1st Muhurta is Gudhi Padva (Chaitra shukla pratipada),
  • 2nd Muhurta is Akshaya Trutiya (Vaishakh shukla trutiya)
  • 3rd Muhurta is Dasara/Vijaya Dashami (Ashwin shukla dashami)
  • 4th Muhurta Padva in Diwali (Kartik shukla pratipada) is considered as half Muhurta.
 As per Hindu Religion, Dasara is considered as one of the 3 ½ auspicious days (Shubha Muhurta).  It is proven over years and years that any new venture started on this day is bound to be successful.  Hence in most parts of India Dasara is selected for starting a new businesses, construction activities (house, building, hospital), taking possession of new house, buying new vehicle, buying gold, booking the first order for the business etc…
 
Many parents start the learning activity for their child on Dasara. 
 
On Dasara farmers start their new crop season & the work in the field, manufacturers worship their machines, traders worship their books of account, intellectuals worship their Pen, Calculators, Computers and children worship their school books, notebooks, drawing material etc...

Deeper meaning & significance of Navaratri
As per Indian Vedic Astrology nine planets are (1) Ravi (Sun), (2) Chandra (Moon), (3) Mangal/Bhaum (Mars), (4) Budha (Mercury), (5) Guru/Bruhaspati (Jupiter), (6) Shukra (Venus), (7) Shani (Saturn), (8) Rahu (North Node) & (9) Ketu (South Node).
Human body has nine openings (1) 2 for seeing - Chakshu (Eyes), (2) 2 for hearing - Karna (Ears), (3) 2 for breathing - Nasika (Nostrils), (4) 1 for speech & eating – Mouth, (5) 1 for Malotsarjan - Anus & (6) 1 for Mutrotsarjan – urinary opening.
If the planets favor & all the openings of the human body are kept under proper control, the human life is bound to be a great success.
Navaratri means "nine nights", which we must use to seek blessings from the nine planets and control our openings.  In the worship of the goddesses during Navaratri, one of the planets should be worshipped & one of the openings should be cleaned each day, not externally but with heart, mind and soul focused. Bodily actions are ephemeral. The body derives its value from the spirit within. Hence it should be regarded as a sacred temple.
Navaratri festival is observed ten days, out of which nine for cleansing one's self of all impurities, in order to experience the divinity within & the last day is dedicated to "worship of weapons (Aayudha Pooja). The weapons to be worshipped are the divine powers & virtues within. When the divine is worshipped in this way, one is bound to progress spiritually.

Dasara in different parts of India 
In most of the northern India (Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi, Hariyana etc…) and some parts of Maharashtra Dasara is celebrated more in honor of Rama.  During these 10 days many plays & dramas based on the epic of Ramayana are performed.  These are called Ramlila. 
In Bengal, Dasara is celebrated as Durga Puja. Idols of the goddess Durga are worshipped for nine days, and on the tenth day immersed in a river or pond.  In Bengal, Assam & Orissa, Durga is also worshipped as Kali Mata as a symbol of Shakti (Power).
 
In Mysore - Karanataka, decorated elephants lead a colorful procession through the streets of the city.
In some regions all the three principal goddesses - Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped during this festival, each for 3 days of the Navaratri.
 
In Gujrath, Rajasthan and most of Maharashtra during the Navaratri days the ladies & gents play a typical dance called Raas Garba every night.
 
In USA there are many social & community groups celebrate Durga Pooja.

The stories behind celebration of Dasara are as follows:
     Victory of Prabhu Ramchandra over Ravana (Ten Headed Devil – The King of Lanka) 
On this day in the Treta Yug, Shri Ram (7th incarnation of Vishnu), killed the great demon Ravan who had abducted Ram's wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Ram, along, with his brother Lakshman follower Hanuman, and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue his wife Sita. The war against Ravan lasted for ten days.
Rama had performed "Chandi Hom” and invoked the blessings of Durga to kill Ravana.  Durga blessed Rama with the secret to kill Ravana.  Ravana was defeated in his own kingdom of Lanka by Rama & the vanarsena.  Rama with Sita & Laxman returned victorious to his kingdom of Ayodhya on the Ashwin Shukla dashami.  This victory of Rama is since then celebrated as “Vijaya Dashami”. 
So also prior to the defeat of Ravana, when Rambhakt Shri Hanuman went to Lanka to search Sita, he found her on the day of Ashvin shukla dashami.
During these 10 days of Dasara, huge idols of Ravana, Kumbhakarna (brother of Ravana) & Meghanad (son of Ravana) are erected and are set on fire by the enthusiastic youth at the sun set.  
After Dasara, the hot weather of the summer ends, especially in North India and as the winter starts, the cold weather becomes breeding ground for many kinds of infections.  Hence burning huge Ravana statues filled with the crackers containing phosphorous purifies the atmosphere. At the same time the temples perform Chandi Homa or Durga Homa which also helps in purifying the atmosphere. 
Many houses also perform Aditya Homa as a Shanti Yagna and recite Sundara Kanda of Srimad Ramayana for 9 days. All these Yagna Performances are to create powerful agents into the atmosphere surrounding the house so as to keep the household environment clean & healthy.  
The purpose of performing these homas is also to kill & sacrifice the 10 bad qualities, which are represented by ten heads of Ravana as follows: 
(1) Kama vasana (Lust), (2) Krodha (Anger), (3) Moha (delusoion), (4) Lobha (Greed), (5) Mada (Over Pride), (6) Matsara (Jealousy), (7) Manas (Mind), (8) Buddhi (Intellect), (9) Chitta (will) & (10) Ahankara (Ego). 
Some houses perform Yagnas 3 times daily along with sandhya vandana, called as Aahavaneeya Agni, Grahapatya Agni, Dakshina Agni. In addition to this, the Aditya Homa is performed with the Maha Surya Mantras and the Aruna Prapathaka of the Yajurveda. The effect of these mantras is to keep the heart, brain and digestive functions of the body in balance. The imbalances in these occur in the absence of adequate sunlight in the winter months.

Victory of Durga Mata over Mahishasur 
Some of the Aasuras (Demons) were very powerful and ambitious, and continually tried to defeat Gods and capture the Heaven.  One such Aasura called Mahishasur, who looked like a buffalo, grew very powerful & created havoc on the earth.  Under his leadership the Aasuras even defeated the Devas (Gods), all of whom were powerless including Brahma, Vishnu etc… Finally, when the world was getting crushed under Mahishasura's tyranny, the Devas came together & contributed their individual energy to form “Shakti” a single mass of incandescent energy to fight & kill Mahishasur.   
A very powerful band of lightening dazzled from the mouths of Brahma, Vishnu & Mahesh (Shiva) and a beautiful, magnificent, radiant young virgin with ten hands appeared.  All the Gods gave their special weapons to her.  This Shakti coalesced in the form of Goddess Durga.  
Durga with weapons in her ten hands, riding on Lion, who assisted her in the fight, took on Mahishasur.  The battle raged for nine days and nights. Finally on the tenth day of Ashwin shukla paksha, the evil demon Mahishasur was defeated & killed by Durga.  
Hence Dasara is also known as Navaratra or Durgotsava and is a celebration of victory of Goddess Durga.  Durga as Consort of Lord Shiva represents two forms of female energy - one mild & protective and the other fierce & destructive.

End of Adnyatwas (living incognito) of Pandavas 
In Dwapar Yuga, after Pandavas lost to Kauravas in the game of Dice, they had to proceed to 12 years of “Vanwas” (exile to forest) followed by one year of Adnyatwas.  Pandavas spent 12 years in forest and hid their weapons in a hole on a “Shami” tree before entering the Kingdom of Virat to complete the last one year of Adnyatwas.  After the completion of that year on Vijayadashmi they took the weapons from the Shami tree, declared their true identity & defeated Kauravas, who had attacked King Virat to steal his cattle wealth.  
Since that day the exchange of Shami leaves on Dassera day became symbols of good, will and victory.  Hence on Dasara Shami Tree & the weapons are worshipped.

Kautsa's Gurudakshina – Story behind exchanging Aapti Tree leaves as “sone” (Gold)
 
Kautsa, the young son of Devdatt, a Brahmin, was living in the city of Paithan. After completing education from Rishi Varatantu, he insisted on his guru accepting Guru Dakshina (present).
 
But Guru said, "Kautsa, to give 'dakshina' in return for learning wisdom is not proper. Graduation of the disciple makes the guru happy, and this is the real Guru Dakshina."
 
Kautsa was not satisfied. He still felt it was his duty to give his guru something.  Finally the guru said, "Alright, if you insist on giving me dakshina, so give me 140 million gold coins, 10 million for each of the 14 sciences I have taught you."
 
Kautsa went to king Raghu. Raghuraja was an ancestor of Lord Rama, famous for his generosity. But just at that time he had emptied all his coffers on the Brahmins, after performing the Vishvajit sacrifice. He asked Kautsa to give him three days' time. Raghuraja immediately left to get the gold coins from Indra. Indra summoned Kuber, the god of wealth.  Indra told Kuber, "Make a rain of gold coins fall on the "Shanu" and "Aapati" trees round Raghuraja's city of Ayodhya."
 
The rain of gold coins began to fall. King Raghu gave all the coins to Kautsa, and Kautsa hastened to offer the coins to Varatantu Rishi.  Guru had asked only 140 millions, so he gave the rest back to Kautsa.  Kautsa was not interested in money. In those days honor was considered more valuable than wealth. He asked the king to take the remaining gold coins back. But the king refused to take them back as kings do not take back the daan (gift).  
Finally Kautsa distributed the gold coins to the people of Ayodhya on the day of Ashwin shukla dashami. In remembrance of this event the custom is kept of looting the leaves of the "Aapati" trees, and people present each other these leaves as "sone" (gold).





















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