Vedic Holiday: Navaratri – Journey toward Enlightenment:
Your Guide to the Celebration
A special time of year begins on Saturday, Oct 17th with the new moon in Virgo, Navaratri. These 9 days and nights begin from the first day of the journey of the new moon towards its fullness. Each day the sap of our energy rises chakra by chakra to reach the crown. Traditionally, the days are spent at the temple listening to pujas and often fasting until after the pujas are done. The first three days are particularly intense and a time of purification and letting go of your deepest patterns.
The nine days symbolically represent the nine months in the womb from conception to birth and the journey up the chakras from the base chakra the first day to the crown chakra in the latter part of the journey and then toward full realization.
On the first day, Oct. 17th, we invoke Durga as “Ma Shailaputri.” She is the daughter of the great Himalayas. She has made up her mind to rise from the great earth below to the heavens above. She is invincible and immovable like the great Himalayas itself.
Below is a beautiful description of the Navaratri Holiday by one of my teachers, Komilla Sutton:
“According to the Puranas, Durga also fought the demon Mahishasura in her form as Goddess Chamundeshwari, and on the 10th day, she emerged victoriously. These wars, for a spiritual aspirant, are the wars we fight with our inner demons so that we can progress on the path of self-realization. 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. For 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 the 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 honors an aspect of Divine Mother and step by step the aspirant.”
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. (Oct 17-19th) 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 demon of Rahu: the desires, the needs, and 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. (Oct 20-22) 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. (Oct 23-25) 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 Lakshmi helps you to preserve what is good already and take positive steps towards making yourself wealthy, both materially and spiritually.
Finally, Goddess Saraswati gives the knowledge and 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 realization.
This holiday is about Durga, who rides on her lion and has the courage to fight fear and overcome Rahu, the demon of fear, addiction, and sensual obsession as she heads on her 10-day journey of victory over ignorance to the higher crown chakra.
END OF PART 1