Navaratri is a widely celebrated festival by Hindus across the world. This 9-day festival is celebrated by worshipping Deity Shakti (Divine Energy). Navaratri commences on the first day (Pratipada) of the bright fortnight of the Hindu lunar month of Ashwin.
In this vrat (Vowed religious observance), a clay pot is installed in a sanctified section of the home. A lamp is placed in the pot and it is kept lit for 9 days. The pot symbolises the Universe.
The uninterrupted lit lamp is the medium through which we worship the brilliant Primordial energy Adishakti (meaning, Shri Durgadevi).
During Navaratri, Shri Durgadevi’s Principle is more active in the Universe. When we understand the spiritual science underlying the various rituals in the worship of Shri Durgadevi, we become worthy of absorbing more of the Shakti Principle, thus acquiring more of Her grace.
2. History of Navaratri
This vrat (Vowed religious observance) was advocated by Sage Narad to Prabhu Shriram so that He could kill Ravan. After completion of this vrat, Prabhu Shriram attacked Lanka and finally killed Ravan.
The Goddess fought with the demon Mahishasur for 9 days from Pratipada to Navami and finally killed him on the Navami night. Since then, She came to be known as Mahishasurmardini, the annihilator of Mahishasur.
3. Importance of Navaratri
Whenever tamasik (Tama predominant), demoniacal and cruel people become powerful and start troubling the sattvik, righteous humans, the Goddess incarnates to reinstate Dharma (Right-eousness). This is the vrat of this Deity.
During Navaratri, it is believed that the Goddess Principle is a thousand times more active than usual. To get the maximum spiritual benefit from this Principle, chant : || Shri Durgadevyai Namaha || as much as is possible during the period of Navaratri.
4. Who to worship during Navaratri ?
Navaratri begins on Ashwin Shukla Pratipada (26th September 2022). According to one school of thought, Shri Mahakali (who has a Tama predominant temperament) is worshipped on the first 3 days of Navaratri to reduce the Tama component in ourselves.
Then, over the next 3 days, to enhance the Raja component in ourselves, Shri Mahalakshmi (who has a Raja predominant temperament) is worshipped; and on the last 3 days, to intensify spiritual practice, Mahasaraswati (who has a Sattva predominant temperament) is worshipped. Chant the Names of these Deities during these days.
(To learn more, obtain your copy of Sanatan Sanstha’s Spiritual text – ‘Shakti’ from the Sanatan centre nearest to you.)
5. Continuous burning of a lamp
One of the observances during Navaratri is that a lamp is kept lit continuously for 9 days. Following are the benefits of this ritual :
• The distress caused by negative energies reduces, thus reducing the heaviness in the environment
• Due to the radiant vibrations emanating from the lamp, the jiva (Embodied soul) benefits according to its bhav (Spiritual emotion)
• The Shakti Principle in the Universe gets attracted to the light of the lamp, and everyone around it benefits
• The sattvikata (Spiritual purity) and Chaitanya (Divine consciousness) in the environment increase
• The embodied soul gets the experience of Anand (Bliss) and Shanti (Peace)
Atonement to take if burning of the lamp is interrupted :
• Fast the entire day without a single morsel of food or drink (known as the absolute fasting)
• Chant 1 to 10 turns of the mala (108 recitations = one turn) or one turn of the mala for every minute the lamp was not lit
In Hindu Dharma, ‘Garba’ means singing devotional hymns praising the Goddess with rhythmic clapping.
Singing devotional hymns is a way to awaken Shri Durgadevi from Her meditation through the medium of the manifest spiritual practice of rhythmic clapping, and appealing to Her to assume the destructive form for Her activity in the Universe.
Why perform Garba with three claps ?
The destroyer form of the Goddess is awakened by the musical rhythm of the three claps through the vibrations of Ichha (Will), Kriya (Action) and Jnan (Knowledge), representing Deity Brahma, Shri Vishnu and Deity Mahesh Principles respectively.
Deity Brahma, Shri Vishnu and Deity Mahesh are the three main manifest energies of God. During Navaratri, the maraktattva (Destroyer Principle) of Shri Durgadevi gets awakened slowly and gradually. The destroyer form of the Goddess is channeled through these three energies.
By clapping three times, the energy of resolve of the Goddess gets activated. Hence, it is more desirable and fruitful to praise the Goddess through the rhythmic three claps. The meaning of the three claps is :
• The first clap is related to the Deity Brahma Principle, which is symbolised by the Ichhashakti (Energy of will). As a result, the Ichhashakti of Deity Brahma gets awakened in the Universe. This energy also gives approval to the wishes in the mind of the embodied soul according to its bhav (Spiritual emotion).
• Through the second clap, the Kriyashakti (Action-related Energy) waves of Shri Vishnu Principle provide energy to the embodied soul for performing actions.
• Through the third clap, the Jnanshakti (Knowledge-related) waves of Deity Shiva Principle fructify the actual act, and from its result, give the desired fruit to the embodied soul.
The act of clapping generates Tejtattva (Absolute Fire Principle), so it becomes possible to awaken the destroyer form of the Goddess through the claps.
The act of clapping is symbolic of worshipping the Tejtattva. Invoking the Goddess by singing devotional hymns and moving around in a circle while clapping helps in the awakening of bhav towards the Goddess.
Celebration of Navaratri : It is our duty to be alert and prevent harm to our culture
In today’s times, young boys and girls, who are sexually attracted to each other, consider Garba a medium to come together ! This leads to immoral activities. After Garba, these youngsters loiter around instead of going home. The Police report that such youngsters leave their homes under the pretext of Garba and indulge in drinking and misbehaving on the streets. A Gujarati Periodical brought out the shocking news that there is a significant rise in the incidences of abortions in unwed mothers in Mumbai and Gujarat a few months after the Navaratri festival.
Sales of contraceptives increase manifold during the Navaratri, ‘Love Jihad’ flourishes too in this period. Therefore, it is our duty to make our children aware of these dangers.
Malpractices prevalent in Garba have an adverse effect on Hindu Dharma and can put an end to Hindu customs, traditions and cultural values. Despite all this, the politicians remain passive. With a view to safeguard their political interests, politicians allow people to do whatever they want, instead of guiding them on the correct path. During the festive period, rules related to noise pollution and morality also take a backseat. Although these are well-known facts, politicians as well as the administration ignore them.
Malpractices in Garba have an adverse effect on Hindu Dharma and can put an end to our customs, traditions & culture !