Navrathri - the Celebration of the Goddess
For nine days, Hindus celebrate the divine feminine. Each day, the goddess is represented in a specific form, starting from a young girl to the manifestation of raw power. Many people dance around a statue or image of the goddess to celebrate her power. Sometimes, they use sticks called dandiya to keep the beat.
The 10th day, Vijayadashami, also known as Dusshera, is a pretty fierce celebration. We celebrate the vanquishing of evil, in the form of Mahishasura, by the goddess Durga. No GOD could defeat him but the goddess did.
What makes this story even more beautiful is that the Goddess gives Mahishasura chances to lay down his weapons, beg for forgiveness, and seek a righteous path. His ego stood in the way of him seeking truth, and so he was destroyed. People from the region of Bengal, in India, celebrate the fiercest form of Durga - Mahakali, THE goddess of ultimate power, time, destruction and change. Her fierceness and dark skin represent the universe (before the Big Bang essentially IMHO), when everything was darkness. Again, super fierce. Dusshera has a different meaning for folks in northern parts of India. This is the day that Rama defeated the ten-headed bad guy, Ravana, in an EPIC battle. Here's the crazy part - Ravana started out being a righteous king who made good decisions. However, his ego got in the way (see the theme here?) and he kidnapped Sita (whole another post), and started a war. Each of Ravana's 10 heads represents a sin that must be defeated - In fact we would argue Ravana could be any of us (without the 10 heads, of course). Started out a good guy, let his ego get in the way, and now is in a bad place of his own doing. By killing (not literally but you get it) our ego, we go back on the path of righteousness and truth. LAST BUT NOT LEAST, THE END OF DUSSHERA MEANS....DIWALI!!!
The importance given to the goddess cannot be overstated. Man (and humankind) is inert without Shakthi (the goddess), who represents the energy in everything. Equal power straight from the Vedic sources - now if only if our modern world catches up with the ancients!