Q: Please can you advise when Navaratri is commencing and how do we utilise this period to get the maximum blessing from the Mother. What is the daily ritual that must be done for the nine-day period? | SL
A: There are nine magical days and nights during Navaratri, October 7 to 14, to get physical, mental and spiritual strength and rejuvenation with certainty. There are two Navaratris that occur annually. The first Navaratri is known as Chaitra Navaratri which occurs during March/April. The other is in September/October and this is known as Shardiya Navaratri. This year, Shardiya Navaratri in South Africa will last for eight days. Astrologically, one should tap into the cosmic energy provided in abundance during this time. Whatever your faith, I encourage all to be more devoted to Allah, Jesus or Buddha as per your religion, to raise your luck rapidly in this short period. If you follow Hinduism, then worship Mother Durga, Lord Rama and Lord Hanuman more in this auspicious period. There are two main solar influences in astrology each year. The seasons are determined by the direction in which the sun moves. 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. Our bodies and minds undergo considerable change on account of nature’s changes. Ayurvedically, our digestion is weakened in these periods. Fasting is recommended for health, spiritual and material benefits. These two main solar influences are considered very sacred periods to worship Mother Durga (Goddess Shakti) as per scriptures. It is recommended in our holy books to worship Goddess Shakti during this time, enabling one to achieve greatest results with maximum benefits in a short period. If one fasts on these magical days, it will bring prosperity, power, progress and peace until the next Navaratri. Astrologically and spiritually, these days are auspicious. During Navaratri, 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 Navaratri is dedicated to one form of Goddess Durga. Her nine forms are: Maa Shailputri, Maa Brahmachaarini, Maa Chandraghanta, Maa Kushmaanda, Maa Skanda, Ma Kaatyayani, Maa Kaalratri, Maa Mahagauri and Maa Sidhidaarti.
Customs and rituals recommended:
- Read Durga Saptshati daily, if you know the rules to read.
- Read the Ramayana every day and complete it by the last day of Navaratri. Scriptures indicate it is auspicious to have the Ramayana recited at home, at least once in a lifetime. It brings unity and love in the family. According to the epic Ramayana, Lord Ram performed the chandi pooja, so as to seek the divine blessings of Goddess Durga to ensure his victory against Ravan. While performing “Anushtan” (a special type of prayer which requires strict rules and regulation), he needed to offer 108 lotus flowers to Mother Shakti. After offering 107 flowers, he realised he was short of one. As Mother Durga tested Ram’s devotion, she caused one flower to disappear. So, Lord Rama thought to offer his eyes (as Lord Vishnu’s eyes are considered lotus-like) at the Goddess’s feet. Then Mother Shakti, satisfied with the measure of his devotion, granted her blessings.
- Read the Sunderkand daily. It’s the most beautiful chapter of the Ramayana. This is the solution for anyone who is experiencing poverty, all-round problems, obstacles, misery and are stuck with one misfortune after another. If one reads it then one’s luck rises exponentially.
- At the least, fast and follow a strictly vegetarian diet, chant mantras in honour of Goddess Shakti, sing religious hymns, pray and meditate.
- In India, highly spiritual devotees live on a liquid diet, some on fruit and vegetables with no grains. Others eat grains once a day for the nine days. Devotees in South Africa should try to follow any one of these diets. If it’s not possible, then one should at the least be vegetarian on these very pious nine days.
- On the final day, 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. You should offer halwa puri and coconut to the Mother. Some people offer prasad on Ashtami (a day before). This depends on your tradition and also varies from family to family.
- People buy property, cars, start new businesses or apply for jobs during this period to become more successful.
- Some devotees of the Mother do “Akhand Jyoti” – one diya or lamp is burned throughout the nine days and care must be taken that there is enough ghee or oil in the diya all the time. Keep the diya in the temple or prayer area where it does not get much breeze. Akhand Jyoti will destroy all the negativity in your house. Astrologically, if you observe the ritual with full faith, you will instantly build your confidence, willpower and gain the strength to overcome your problems. In turn, your energy and aura will help you gain victory over your enemy, obtain good health and peace. If you follow the above sincerely and dedicate this time wholeheartedly to Mother Durga, then you can pacify the planets, remove the evil eye (Nazar) and negative vibrations. It is very easy to please Mother Durga. Engage in more good karma by informing other relatives and friends about the immense benefits of performing this fast.