We know it’s Navarātri when we see Indian women, clad in their most elegant attire, hopping around chirpily. The men are on a completely different schedule now. They typically unleash their inner Bakāsur (a gobbling demon) to feast on the sweetmeat spread! In all, Navarātri, the nine festive nights of Devi, adds color and enthusiasm to life.
Even so, the excessive socializing for Navarātri in current times has pushed its real purpose to the backseat. This post is my humble attempt at reviving this festival’s sacredness.
Gratitude for The Seasons
The Navarātri or Navarātra fest happens four times a year – one for each of the four seasons. Going from spring to winter, the Navarātris are named after the lunar month of their occurrence. Those are Chaitra, Ashadha Gupt, Sharad, and Magha Gupt Navarātris.
Of those, the summer and winter Navarātris aptly named Gupt or hidden aren’t as well known. The spring and fall ones are most popular, with the latter being a big-ticket event. Famous or not, all four Navarātris are a time for us to express gratitude to Nature for its beautiful seasons.
Time for Personal Care
The spring and fall Navarātris are famous for a reason. Nature’s conditions make those an ideal time for celebration. Thinking about it, when the spring blooms or fall colors are in full swing, it’s easy to admire and express gratitude to Nature. Isn’t it?
At the same time, the spring and fall seasons are also notorious for bringing along flu and its cousins! During these times, to deal with external conditions, our bodies and minds go through many changes. Adept at Ayurveda, the ancient sages probably found it sane to focus on self-care at such times.
Following the ideology of Sanatana Dharma, the sages took a holistic approach to well-being. Hence, they prescribed the following routine (camouflaged as rituals) for Navarātri:
- quarantine to prevent infections
- eating sumptuous but healthy food to maintain physical fitness
- meditation for emotional strengthening
- prayer for positivity
- other self-purification activities to cleanse the mind
Ironically, a couple of weeks set aside for personal care has turned into a social event over the years!
Revering The Goddess
Here, our next logical question might be – why revere the Goddess during various seasons?
Worshipping Nature’s different facets by personification is a common theme in Sanatana Dharma. As per the scriptures, the Formless Divine manifests as Parama Shiva and Para Shakti. With them as the parents, the universe comes into being. Amongst our Divine Parents, Para Shakti is Prakriti or Nature. Hence, Nature-related celebrations were all offered to the Divine Feminine.
Additionally, Navarātris are the auspicious times when many sages performed Devi Sadhana. Numerous Shakta tradition followers worshiped the Divine Mother for ten days (nine nights). That included eulogizing the Das Mahavidya, Nava Durga, Parvati-Lakshmi-Sarasvati, and other feminine forms. Due to that, the world saw an influx of spiritual energy during this time.
The commoners were encouraged to take advantage of those pious conditions for their rapid spiritual growth. Thus, as a society, everyone invoked the Goddess during these times.
As you can see now, Navarātri is not a girls-night-out event or a party-all-night fest. It’s a Go Green, Love Nature movement! It’s the time to take care of yourself and celebrate this beautiful life, which is a priceless gift from Nature.
Further, Navarātri is the time to sync with Nature by uplifting ourselves through various spiritual Sadhanas. So that, when we learn to live in harmony with Nature permanently, every moment of this life becomes a festival.
All glories to Mother Nature!
Om Sri Matre Namaha