Navaratri

By Rudra Shivananda

One of the great Indian festivals is that of the nine days of Divine Mother. As the name implies, this is a celebration of the Mother of the Universe, the feminine aspect of Divinity. Unlike western ideas of the feminine as only passive and receptive, a major stream of the Sanatana Dharma of India considers that the feminine power can be
active and energetic. In fact, it is by the power of Mother Shakti that things are
done in the universe!

Divine Mother

Navaratri is celebrated throughout India but the specifics vary considerably from region to region. In general, there is music, dance and lots of chanting in the nights of this festival. Also, a variety of pujas or celebratory rituals for the Mother are performed. The
main deity who is associated with the nine days is Mother Durga, who is an integration of all the divine goddesses.

There are various ways of dividing up the 9 days. One way is to dedicate the first 3 days to Durga-ma, the second 2 days to Lakshmi-ma and the last 3 days to Saraswati-ma, as these are the 3 main manifestations of the power and energy of the Lords Shiva, Vishnu
and Brahma, and represent the destruction of evil, the power of success and the creative aspects respectively.

Another way to celebrate the nine days is to dedicate each day to a specific aspect of Durga-ma:

– Shailputree-ma is the young daughter of the King of the Mountains – she inspires us to be pure and to do good to all

– Brahmacharini-ma who performed great austerities and meditations to win the hand of Lord Shiva

– Chandraghanta-ma who inspires us to crush evil especially those within our minds.

– Kushmaanda-ma inspires us to be powerful in the discharge of our duties

– Skandamaata radiates happiness, nourishment and energy as the mother of the divine child

– Kaatyayani-ma is 3-eyed and holds weapons in her ten arms to destroy all demonic forces that might harm creation

– Kaalraatri-ma inspires us to destroy ignorance

– Mahagauri-ma radiates power, compassion and beauty

– Siddhiratri-ma combines all power, prosperity and knowledge

The celebration of Navaratri can help spiritual aspirants to tap into the Divine Mother power to help in their progress on the path. It is not necessary to wait for the next occurrence of this festival to benefit from the power of the Mother. Festivals are more for the mass of humanity who needs a special time from their own ego-driven activities to focus for a few days on the blessings of divinity. For the spiritual seeker who has an attraction to the feminine aspect of divinity, then there can be a navaratri every month starting from the day of the new moon.

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