Festivals & Fasts


Navaratri the Nine Days of the Goddess

Vijaya Dashami / Dusshera

Nava means nine and Ratri means nights. Navaratri is celebrated four times a year as goddess worship - in winter, spring, summer and autumn. The spring and autumn Navaratri are for everyone, whereas the winter and summer Navaratri are known as gupt or secret Navaratri. These are celebrated in specific goddess temples only.

The autumn Navaratri is one of the major celebrations of goddess worship. The three goddesses, Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped. This festival is mainly about the victory of good over evil. Goddess Durga fights and wins the demon Mahishasura. This festival is also connected to Lord Rama’s victory over the demon king Ravana. The tenth day of this festival is known as Dusshera or Vijaya Dashmi, celebrating the twin victories.

The spring Navaratri ends with the birth of Lord Rama on the ninth day. During the Autumn Navaratri Lord Rama was fighting with Ravana and emerged victorious on the tenth day.

According to the Puranas, Durga also fought the demon Mahishaasura in her form as Goddess Chamundeshwari and on the 10th day she emerged victoriously. These wars, for spiritual aspirants, are the wars we fight with our inner demons so that we can progress on the path of self-realisation. The nine days are nine steps to moksha and the goddesses give our power to find our higher self.

Rahu represents the demon in our chart. Those who want to pacify Rahu; this is the best time. Although this festival is celebrated in a big way, people forget the spiritual aspect of it and its connection to our spiritual development. To fight the fears of Rahu, the rejections of Ketu, it is important to fast during the day during these nine days with the mindset to overcome our inner fears and the resolve to confront and overcome our weaknesses.

The divine mothers are a representation of Shakti and they alone give the power to their devotee to conquer all. These divine mothers are known as the Nava Durga (9 Names of Durga). Each of the days honours an aspect of Divine Mother and step by step the aspirant.

Day One: Sailaputra - Daughter of the Himalayas

Day Three: Chandraghanta - She Who is Beautiful as the Moon

Day Four: Kusmanda - She Who brings happiness

Day Five: Skandamata - Mother of Skanda, the leader of armies against evil

Day Six: Katyayani - Aspect of Mother Kali

Day Seven: Kalaratri - Kali Night of no Moon

Day Eight: Mahagauri - The Great White Goddess

Day Nine: Siddhidatri - She Who is of great spiritual Powers and knowledge

The days are also subdivided into 3 sets of three days:

Kali: The first three days are devoted to Kali, the Goddess of Destruction and Restoration. She is the wife of Shiva. It is a time of purification, a time to let go of all that is not right for your life so that the heart is clear to accept the new energy from the divine. This is also a time to control the demons of Rahu, the desires, the needs, the fears that keep us tied to the world and give rise to more and more desires and therefore disappointments in life.

Lakshmi: The second three days are devoted to Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity and wealth. She is the wife of Vishnu; it is a time of preservation of your good nature and what is good in your life and acquiring new things ethically that make your life wealthy and prosperous. Think about preserving and acquiring spiritual wealth.

Saraswati: The last three days are devoted to Saraswati, the Goddess of Wisdom, Knowledge and the Arts. She is the wife of Brahma. This is the time of receiving Divine Guidance on how to properly use all resources.

With each set of three days, you move closer to your spiritual goals. Goddess Kali helps to purify your mind and free it up for new possibilities. The mind has to be free of its old obsessions and desires, only then it is ready to take on new information. In the second set, Goddess Laxmi helps you preserve what is good already and make positive steps to make yourself wealthy both materially and spiritually. Finally, Goddess Saraswati gives the knowledge and the wisdom to embrace the path of Brahman and overcome any obstacles on the path to moksha. If we do this ritual annually then we will slowly but surely find the path to realisation.

Swami Sivananda says that to the sincere spiritual aspirant, the particular division of the Navaratri into sets of three days to adore different aspects of the Supreme Goddess has a very sublime, yet thoroughly practical truth to reveal. In its cosmic aspect, it epitomises the stages of the evolution of man into God, from Jiva, living soul to Shiva, the state of Self-realisation.

Pacifying Rahu During Navaratri

Those who would like to do upaye for Rahu, the best way is to fast for nine days. Fast during the day on fruits and eat one meal each evening. vegetarian ( no meat, fish, eggs, chicken) and no alcohol.

Clear the mind of negative thoughts by studying spiritual text, doing mantras and taking part in Navaratri celebrations. (Check in your local temple)

Ask for strength from the Devis to take you on a spiritual path.

You will need to do this regularly every year. You can also worship Durga twice a month on Navami tithi.

Prayer to Ganesha

Aadhipujyam Ganadakshyam
Umaputram Vinakayakam
Mangalam Parmamrupam
Shri Ganeshayam Namamya Ham

Ganesa Struti

Vakratund Mahakaya Surya Koti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam Kurumedeva Sarva Karyeshu Sarvada Ganesha Bija Mantra
Om Gam Ganapataye Namah

— Komilla Sutton

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