Navratri, “Nava” “ratri” or translated from Sanskrit as nine nights (and day 10). This important celestial Hindu celebration is known for honouring our inner Goddesses with the most prominent festival during the months September – October, called Shardiya (autumn) Navratri.
Theoretically, Navratri, falls four times a year. The Shardiya Navratri during the months October-September, Chaitra (spring) Navratri covering March-April, Magha Gupt Navratri around January and Asadha Gupt Navratri in June. Of these four Shardiya and Chaitra are the two most important Navratri’s.
During this auspicious time covering 9 nights and day 10, ascetics, monks, and does perusing the path of mokśa (liberation) fast, contemplate and perform purification rituals to connect with the divine female forces called śakti.
If we look closer at the science behind Navratri, you notice that these four periods each time fall during the change of season, the change of our climate from spring to summer, to autumn, to winter.
When the climate changes it impacts our body as well as our diet. Our immunity weakens and we become more prone to bacteria and mental disorders due to indigestion or wrong food habits. It is during these season’s we need to change our diet and therefore a period of fasting is recommended.
Our ancestors of Vedic times had recorded these impacts on our health system and therefore created a period of fasting, meditation and contemplation. While detoxing the body we work on our mental health, bringing positive attitude and taking control over our emotions and worldly desires.
Controlling our sensors is a major part of the spiritual journey and therefore fasting and specific diets are followed to help is grow and expand. A few benefits of fasting are noted here below.
It is advised to practice meditation during fasting. As the detoxification takes place we also work on purifying our mind from negative thoughts and invoking eternal happiness and bliss.
The current food habits create hypertension and cardiovascular problems. Fasting helps the body desalt and dilute the body.
This procedure of staying without or with light food also eliminates gas, lightens the body, improves mental clarity, provides a clean tongue and fresh breath, and preserves overall health.
Scientifically, fasting is an effective way to kindle the digestive fire and burn away accumulated toxins from the body and mind.
It rejuvenate cells and activates ketones in our body turning excessive fast into energy.
It also acts as a mental peace booster by enabling us to stay away from the regularly overburdened body and cravings.
Therapists claim that it has the capacity to instil virtues like self-discipline and calmness.
Fasting facilitates spiritual purification leading to a stronger willpower and thus elevating our spiritual intensities.
Our emotions are often steered by our digestive system, as scientist have proofed our “gut” is our second brain. Hence our negative emotions such as lust, anger, greed, attachment, ego, fear, jealousy, inertia, hate and guilt are being eliminated and cleared during the spiritual process of purification.
So far the scientific way of looking at Navratri and our health. Let’s have a closer look at the spiritual meaning and why this festivals where dedicated to the Devi’s (Goddesses).
The ancient Brihat Dharma Purana reiterates the Dasha (ten) Mahavidya (“Maha” Great – “Vidya” knowledge, the knower”) originating as a powerful form of reverence and worship.
The Devi assumes the forms of the Divine Mother with intrinsic personalities relating to the Ten Mahavidya Goddesses, drawing Śiva to every form of Her inherent, innate nature.
The festival is therefore dedicated to the different incarnations of Goddess Mā Durga, also called Parvati, the wife our counter partner of Lord Śiva, representing the Lord of Supreme Consciousness, the one whom sees beyond.
By the grace of a guru or the divine through intense sadhana (studies) and ascetic practices the sadhaka (spiritual aspirant) receives Śaktipāta, translated śakti "(psychic) female energy" and pāta, "to fall" or receives the spiritual energy which leaves us in an ecstatic state of enlightened bliss with a tremendous amount of “mother” love and compassion.
The nine days of Śakti worship symbolise dealing with our own samsaric karmas (reoccurring actions) of worldly Maya (worldly illusions). Connecting with the deeper potential of the Mother Goddess we spiritualise our lives seeking out the higher self.
Another important aspect of Navaratri celebrations is the Navagraha Shanti Puja, a propitiation of all the Nine Planets being worshipped throughout Navratri whom all influence our individual beings on Earth.
Mā Durga appeases, calms and reigns in the energies of Rahu, the lunar north node. Rahu represents the aspect of Maya-illusion and delusion in our lives. Only when we spiritualize this Rahu nature can we turn these forces into harmonizing our existence.
Sri Ganesha (the elephant God) is always worshipped first to remove all negativity, bestowing Buddhi (our intellect) to achieve our sacred goals in life.
On the first 3 days Mā Durga is honoured, decimating all negativity and misfortune. The following 3 days Lakshmi Devi is worshipped willing both spiritual and worldly prosperity. The final 3 days Sarasvati Devi is worshipped bestowing all learning and wisdom, where we honour and revere the Guru (teacher).
As mentioned earlier the festival is also dedicated to the 9 avatars of Mā Durga throughout Navaratri as she helps us to work through the darkness of our karmas. And each of her reincarnation again has her own quality and emotion. To finalise let us have a closer look at the 9 Durga diva’s and their significance.
Day 1: Śri Shailaputri - daughter of the Himalayas yielding steadfastness is known to be the earthly essence of earthly existence. Chandra (the Moon), representing is the ruling planet of this day representing peace, tranquillity, and the subconscious mind.
Day 2: Śri Brahmacharini – personifying purity, deep love and devotion. The one who walks barefoot in the forests practicing the toughest penance and hard austerity. She is graced by Lord Mangal (Planet Mars), the provider of all fortunes giving strength, courage and physical energy.
Day 3: Śri Chandraghanta – who holds the power of soma (elixir of the Moon) as the wife of Śiva, she destroys the wicked while to her devotees she is the compassionate mother showering peace and prosperity. As the wife of Śiva, Shukla (Venus) the planet of love, vitality and sensual desire shines upon her.
Day 4: Śri Khusmanda – unfolds bliss, happiness and well-being symbolizing both beauty and bravery. Radiant as Surya (the Sun) she lives within the Sun’s energy and possess healing powers illuminating us with inspiration, confidence and energy for self-development.
Day 5: Śri Skandamata - Mother of Skanda, brother of Ganesha, personifying eternal fire. She grant us oceans of wisdom, giving to her devotee’s achievements and treasures of life. Buddha (Mercury) rules the power of the mind, humour, wisdom and speech.
Day 6: Śri Katyayani – the warrior Goddess, destroyer of all demons ensures harmony and peace in married life. She also aids in maleffects of planets in our horoscope. Guru (Jupiter) represents spiritual knowledge and wisdom, expansion, growth and good fortune.
Day 7: Śri Kalaratri – Goddess of the night and the most ferocious avatar of NavaDurga. She is known for destroying ignorance and removing darkness from the universe. Shani (Saturn) is the planet of darkness obstructing our journey with limitations, oppression and pessimism.
Day 8: Śri Mahagauri – bestower of peace and endless virtues as she forgives sinners and purifies them. She relieves the devotee from all sufferings in life. Rahu, known as the northern node of our planet causes earthlings obsessive addictions, disturbances, poison and turmoil.
Day 9: Śri Siddhidatri – The supreme Goddess of mystic power, gives her devotees siddhis (supernatural, spiritual power) or the ability to achieve a sense of the ultimate source of live. She enlightens and accomplishes our journey. Ketu (the southern node) of the Earth draws our energy towards the cosmos, freeing us from attachments and dissatisfaction. Liberating us from birth and death.
Navratri celebrates not just the female Goddess but has many layers and deeper meanings all for us to connect with the higher realms of life. Therefore, offerings and prayers are done with deep śraddha (faith and devotion) and reverence that paves the way for the Devi’s benevolence and divine grace.
Keep up the good spirits during these worldly times of unrest and join me for a period of silence and meditation.
Hariḥ Om Tat Sat.
Śri Gurudev Namaḥ Hari Hariḥ Om
Jai Śri Mā
Om Ṣantiḥ Ṣantiḥ Ṣantiḥ
With love and light,
Resources that confirmed my own intuition and observation:
The Hindu Calendar: https://www.drikpanchang.com/navratri/chaitra-navratri-ghatasthapana.html
Rgyan Blogposts: https://rgyan.com/blogs/navadurga-9-divine-forms-of-goddess-durga/
Notes from Shambhavi L. Chopra
Photo's of fire yajña and offers (yummy sugarless hazelnut bliss balls)
Disclosure of my Navratri Sadhana
3 April 2020
I proudly completed my first 9 days of fasting as a part of my Navratri Sadhana. An intense divine experience living of water whilst:
- Performing daily prayers trice a day
- Performing daily yajña, fire havan/homa (sacred ritual)
- chanting: Devi suktam, Durga Suktam, Śrī Suktam, Medha Suktam and Śrī Lalitha Sahasrānam Stotram ...
- Studying the Dasa Maha Vidyas (the great cosmic mysteries), while attending my online classes of Sanskrit, Indian religion and Vedic Mantra.
- Preserving silence as per my environments limitations
One must see the positive side of COVID-19, because without this halt I would have been in my brothers forest. There I would not have sustained the freezing cold winter temperatures. (a new work point)
Besides this I was glad to share this special moment with the people I am currently sharing my life with and show them something what lies rooted in my heart.
You can read a detailed report of my fasting experience on my blog post: "A-little-string-of-purslane"
Happy Chaitra Navratri ~ Graces and gratitude to our Divine mothers and the one within. 😇🌸💗🕉🙏
Stay healthy, keep your faith and as I said before use this time to nurture your soul.
With love and light ~ Mata 💗