Navaratr || Indian hindu festival

Navaratri is one of the most important and biggest festivals celebrated across India and even other parts of the world.

It is a festival where for ten days or nine nights the various forms of the Devi or the Divine cosmic energy, the Divine Mother, is worshipped in all her forms. Every year there are four Navaratris, two of which are secret, and two of which are celebrated. But the most important one is in September/October.

“Nava” means nine, and “Ratri” means night. The literal meaning of “ratri” is a time when one turns inwards when one rests and becomes rejuvenated. In Sanskrit “ra” means that which gives solace, and “tri” refers to the Taapa Traya, or the three types of afflictions or problems, suffering, misery that comes to us in life.

On the physical level, the body or the environment, any pain, or any disease, any problem; the mental level, in the mind, the thought level; and on the causal level, which means the past impressions, the karmas, in the consciousness. So that which gives solace from all these things is what is ratri. And Navaratri is a time where the sadhaks, the spiritual seekers go deep within to rest, to become rejuvenated, become refreshed, and become free from all these afflictions, and start the year afresh.

So it is also compared to the nine months we spend in the womb of the mother, those nine nights, where the child is in the womb and it doesn’t have to do anything, it just goes within, and it comes out new.

 Now during this time, the Devi Mahatmya, a scripture, is read or recited and also chanted in the pujas and yagyas, which talks about the Devi fighting various demons and destroying those demons. And this has a very beautiful deeper meaning because the Devi represents the Shakti, the prana shakti or the power of the consciousness, the energy.

 And all of these demons, if you see the names are very symbolic.

 The first demons she slays are Madhu and Kaitabha, which stands for craving and aversion, that is what their name means. Then there are other demons like Dhumralochana, which literally means one whose eyes are smokey, whose vision is not clear. Sometimes our vision is not clear.

Then there is Raktabijasura, which means the seeds which are there in the blood, which refers to our genes. When there are any genetic problems, and even if you talk about things like cancer, these are seeds in our own blood. So these are all different types of demons, they have been depicted as demons.

Then we have Shumbha and Nishumbha, which means doubting oneself and doubting others.

There is Mahishasura, which is the inertia, the dullness, laziness, depression.

Chanda means one who opposes anybody, doesn’t agree. Sometimes our mind becomes like that, that whatever people say, we disagree. You are in such a negative mood and you are not ready to listen to anybody.

And Munda, another demon, means one who doesn’t have ahead, sometimes you simply don’t listen to people, it is like you don’t have ahead, you don’t have any ears. Whatever they say it falls on deaf ears.

So through Navaratri we invoke the Shakti, we honor and worship the Devi Shakti, the Divine energy, the Divine Mother, the Cosmic energy, we invoke it in our life, so that it may overcome all these negative tendencies, it may destroy all these negative tendencies in us, and make us free from that.

So during this time people usually fast, they have light food, just fruits, juices, or light food. Fasting purifies the body and the mind. Then people keep silence, silence purifies our speech. Then they listen to knowledge, they discuss knowledge, because knowledge purifies the intellect. They sing devotional songs, bhajans, that purifies our emotions. So all these things, the pujas, the yagyas, the mantras, it allows us to purify ourselves, go deep within, connect with the consciousness, and increase the prana shakti, raise our energy. 

So it is a beautiful opportunity to go within, go deep, and experience that Shakti which is pervading this whole creation, and that it may guide our life.
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