AWAKEN your consciousness and improve your fortunes in the next nine days. This is the time to rejuvenate your mind, body and soul quickly. It is known as Ramayana week in South Africa, while in India, people celebrate this time as Navrathri. People in South Africa usually celebrate Navrathri once a year, but it happens twice a year and both occasions are equally important. As we were under apartheid rule for many years, we had lost some part of our connectivity with Indian culture, custom, tradition and festivities. The first occasion of Navrathri usually occurs during the months of March and April and the other falls in September or October annually. This year, the first Navrathri occurs between April 12 and 21 and is known as “Chaitra Navrathri”. It is also the first day of the “Hindu New Year”. The second Navrathri is known as “Shardiya Navrathri”. Please note a few auspicious dates may not coincide with India due to our sunrise and sunset differences. This year we are lucky to have benefited with one extra day for Navrathri. If you are a follower of Hinduism, it is recommended you offer worship to Mother Durga (Adi-Shakti), Lord Rama and Lord Hanuman, especially during this period. However, whatever your religious inclination, I encourage everyone to show greater devotion to Allah, Jesus and Buddha, so your fortunes, according to astrology, rises quickly in a short period of time. There are two main solar influences in astrology each year. The seasons are determined by the direction in which the sun appears to move. One is when it crosses the equator and moves south and the other is when it moves north – signalling winter and summer. The beginning of summer and winter are important junctions of climatic and solar influences. Bodies and minds undergo considerable change on account of nature’s changes. Ayurvedically, our digestion is weakened in these periods. So fasting is recommended for health, spiritual and material benefits. These two solar changes are considered very sacred periods to worship Adi Shakti and all forms of the Divine as per scriptures. It is recommended in our holy books to worship Goddess Shakti during this time and this period generally lasts for nine days and nights, hence the name, “Navrathri”, which enables one to achieve greatest results with maximum benefits in a short period of time. If one fasts on these magical days, it will bring prosperity, power, progress and peace until the next “Navrathri”. Astrologically and spiritually, these days are auspicious. During Navrathri, we invoke the “shakti” (energy) aspect of God in the form of the universe’s divine mother, “Durga Maa”. Durga in Sanskrit means “remover of miseries”. Hindus believe she is the female energy behind the creation, preservation and destruction of the universe. Each night of Navrathri is dedicated to one form of Goddess Durga.
- Read Durga Saptshati daily.
- Read the Ramayana every day and complete it by the last day of Navrathri. Scriptures indicate it is auspicious to have the Ramayana recited at home, at least once in a lifetime. It brings unity and love into the family.
- Read the Sunderkand daily.
- In India highly spiritual devotees live on a liquid diet, some on fruits and vegetables and no grains. Others have grains once a day for the nine days. Devotees in South Africa should try to follow one of these diets. If it’s not possible, then one should at the least be vegetarian on these very pious days.
- On the final day, April 21, also known as “Mahanavami”, Kanya pooja is performed. Nine young girls, who have not yet reached puberty, are worshipped. Each girl symbolises one of the nine forms of the Goddess Durga. Their feet are washed to welcome the Goddess and show respect. Then the girls are offered food and new clothes, as gifts from devotees. Some people offer halwa puri as parsad on Ashtami (a day before). This depends on your tradition and varies from family to family.
- Mahanavami is an auspicious day and night. At midnight, Mother Adi Shakti appeared and at midday after a thousand years in Treta-Yuga, Lord Ram was born. Hence, we worship all forms of mother and Lord Ram. So, whenever Lord Ram is worshipped Lord Hanuman Ji is to be worshipped.
- Some devotees of mother do Akhand jyoti – one diya or lamp is burned throughout these days and care must be taken that there is enough ghee or oil in the diya all the time. Keep the diya in a temple in such a place where it does not get much breeze. This diya is called akhand jyoti (burning all the time during Navrathri). This akhand jyoti will destroy all the negativity in your house. If by chance the jyoti is extinguished then light it again.
- People buy property, cars, jewellery, new stuff, start new businesses and jobs during this period to become more successful. Astrologically, if you observe the ritual with full faith, you will instantly build your confidence, will-power, gain power to overcome your problems, have energy, gain victory over your enemy, obtain good health and peace. If you follow the above sincerely and are dedicated wholeheartedly to the Divine, then you can remove evil eye (Nazar) and negative vibrations.
In India, many celebrities like Bollywood stars and politicians, always ensure they do not miss the opportunity of the immense astrological, spiritual and material benefits gained by observing Navrathri. It is very easy to please God during this time. Engage in more good karma by informing other relatives and friends about the immense benefits of performing this fast.