The auspicious festival of Navratri, nine days of worshiping God, is being observed in Guyana and globally by Hindus. Hindus were seen at Mandirs in the evening, and some also hosts special Durga puja in their homes conducted by their pandit.
It is a night festival but is observed during the day and evening with fasting. Some fast for a few days while others fast the entire period. It us one of the holiest periods in the Hindu calendar.
This writer visited several Mandirs in Guyana on the occasion of Navratri and briefly addressed sessions conducted by pandits who held a nightly discourse on the meaning of Navratri.
There are several meanings of Navratri. One meaning given for Navratri is nine nights that connotes worshipping of the Goddess Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati during those evenings with three nights each. Durga is the General in charge of security of the nation. People pray to Durga for protection, strength and shakti (power) in defense against their many enemies. When people worship Durga, they are worshipping the other manifestations of God and are seeking divine protection and removal of disease. A devotee prostrates to Mother Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity, so that he or she can become wealthy, kind and generous towards others. And a devotee worships Mother Saraswati for wisdom and knowledge.
According to pandits, during Navratri, a devotee becomes conscious of his/her faults, limitations and internal enemies such as lust, hatred, greed and anger and want to reform his life. People make sacrifices in their fast so they can become conscious of their faults and correct them. By worshipping Durga and her sisters, these internal enemies are destroyed and are replaced by love, cheerfulness, compassion, and devotion.