REENA SINGH explains the spiritual significance of the Navratris
In the pre-pandemic days, Navratris marked a happy period of worship, prayer, fasting and feasting as people went all out to celebrate the nine nights preceding Dusshera. On a similar occasion a couple of years ago, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati of Parmarth Niketan had asked the people gathered for the sacred daily aarti on the banks of the Ganga in Rishikesh to take a sacred pledge to ensure that we give the same love and reverence to all manifestations of the Mother Goddess.
She did not mince words as she gently told the satsangis surrounding her “that all of the Divine Feminine energy in Durga, Ganga, Saraswati, and Parvati lives in our daughters, sisters, wives and mothers. We must ensure that they are free from violence, discrimination – all of the things we would never dream of doing to any of the goddesses in the mandir.”
Indeed, each of the nine Navratri nights celebrates and worships a divine aspect of the Divine Mother, Goddess Durga. Each of those nine nights also represents nine forms of ego which through the grace of the Devi, we can be free of so that we embark firmly on a truly spiritual path. Each day has a significance and you move to a higher state of consciousness as you worship the different forms of the goddess on different days.
As you celebrate the Divine Mother’s nine forms, you embrace aspects of her personality and in the process, vanquish all the evil demons that lurk both within and outside of the self.
Two festivals run parallelly here. The Navratris flag off the nine-day Ramlila enactments all over the country that culminate on the tenth day as Dusshera, when Lord Rama kills the evil Ravana, a classic symbol of victory of Good over Evil. Alongside, the last five nights of the Navratris are celebrated as Durga Puja.
It also signifies nine days of fasting, a practise many adopt to detox their systems or look upon it as plain austerities to help them attain a more meditative state.
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati explains that the nine days dedicated to the worship of the Mother Goddess finally culminate “in a beautiful ceremony in which people bring into their homes, and temples, nine young girls from their neighbourhoods and dress them up, worship and feed them and do puja to them.” This is done to remind us that the Mother Goddess, the Divine Feminine we worship lives in the form of our daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers. Adds Sadhviji, “The goddess, the Shakti we worship in our temples, lives in the women of this planet. This means that we must ensure that they are free from violence, discrimination, oppression, suppression, and free from all the things we would never dream of doing to the deities in a temple.”
Sadhviji adds that the ceremony tells us that the “Same reverence, awareness, love and care that we bestow upon the deities in the temple,” should be showered on our daughters, wives, sisters, and mothers. “They are the divine manifestations of the Mother Goddess on earth. And we must ensure to care, love, and respect them so that they are safe and protected.”
She takes it a step further and adds that “It is the same sentiment with which we must look upon Mother Nature, Mother Earth and the Divine Mother Goddess, in their tangible form.”
Reena Singh has more than 37 years’ experience in senior editorial positions in The Times of India (TOI) and Genpact. She was Deputy Editor with TOI’s spiritual newspaper, The Speaking Tree, where she spent nine years.