Ashram Celebrations : http://www.artofliving.org/in-en/navaratri-celebrations
Celebrations at AOL HK Center: Oct 15, 7-9pm
Navaratri means nine nights and the new night. Creation happens in darkness,in the womb of the mother and underneath the soil. Nine months in the womb are like nine long nights where the spirit takes human form. Night provides rejuvenation and rest. People come home from work at night and celebrate, rejoice, and pray. At night,the entire creation goes to sleep, including the Ashram night watchman.
These nine nights of Navaratri are precious; they are enriched with subtle energy. Sixty-four impulses of the Divine Mother govern the subtle creation and are responsible for restoring all earthly and spiritual benefits. These impulses are contained within one’s awakened consciousness. The nine nights of Navaratri are celebrated to rekindle those divine impulses and to renew the inner depth
of our lives.
Cleanse your body and cleanse your soul.
Cleanse your body with water;
Cleanse your soul with Knowledge, pranayam,Sudarshan Kriya, and meditation.
As we take nine months in our mother’s womb, before we are born, we take these nine days to go back to our source. These nine days are to be spent in meditation, satsangs, silence and knowledge.
During this period, the first three days are of the Kaali,the Adhishthata (the Authority) of Tamo Guna, the next three days are of Mahalakshmi, the Adhishthata of Rajo Guna and the last three days are of Saraswati, the Adhishthata of Sata Guna.
And when we move from Tamo through to Satva, the Victory happens; victory over our own devilish tendencies, like Raag Dvesh (cravings-aversions), Raktabijakshur (inherent ‘tendencies in our DNA.: which can be changed only through satsang) and Dhumralochan (the laziness of Mahishasur, the”bull; one who’s eyes are clouded with small-mindedness)
Upavaas (what is normally understood as Fasting) actually means ‘sitting close’; close to the Guru. And when you are close to the Guru, the Self, you are in so much bliss, that you forget to eat or drink! You don’t feel hungry or thirsty. And now that has become a false notion about’ Upavaas’. We relate it to fasting. It is good to fast once in a while, for a day or two. However, it is not worth eating fried foods in the name of Upavaas (Saboodana wada, fried potato, etc). Eat fruits. The main thing is to listen to the body. Give it a break from the daily grind of digesting three meals, etc. When you attend to the body and it is rested, the mind also becomes peaceful. You do not have to fast to please GOD. Do it to purify your body and mind.
Observing silence is also good. Everyone need not observe silence, avoid useless talks. Ardha Maun (partial-silence) is fine. Keep silence with a smile and Upavaas happens. At the end of the nine-day Aradhana, let there be newness in us.
Nav also means new. These are nine new nights. Krishna used to do a lot of Devi Pujas during Navaratri. He said; “I take a dip in my own Prakruti (nature), and come out to create new”. So, take a dip in your own nature and come out fresh and new. The more we go deep within ourselves, the more this Creation rejoices in celebration. These Yagnas have all the aspects of life so beautifully covered within them. It comprises of dance, music, food, celebration and everything. Not a single aspect of life has been left out. So, be within yourself during these nine days. Do not let any complaints happen.
Complaints drag you out; keep you rooted in the mud outside. Drop it all with a smile and go within. The diverse aspects of the Holy” Spirit are invoked during these nine days. And like the nine months of formation spent in the womb, spend these nine days within and form a new spirit.
Then all the bad karmas and impressions are washed away. Navaratri purifies the individual consciousness and then the universal consciousness, the creation.
NAVRATRI – The Power of Devi Shakti
‘Nava’ means ‘nine’ and ‘Ratri’ is made up of ‘Ra’ which also means ‘night’ and ‘Tri’ meaning the ‘the three aspects of our life, Body, Mind and Soul. So ‘Navaratri’ means ‘giving rest to all the three aspects of our life,for nine days’.
The first three days of Navaratri, are ‘Tamasic’ days, followed by three ‘Rajasic’ days and ending with three ‘Sattvic’ days. At night all the artis are performed for the Devi – the enjoyer of everything. So there is classical dance, music and various musical instruments being played. Each day has special implications, yagnas, poojas and homas are performed. Among the things offered to the fire are hundreds of different herbs, fruits, garments, and mantras, all creating a gloriously divine atmosphere to drown in? Our ancestors felt the inadequacy of words and so they expressed themselves with symbols … for instance, we offer flowers and fruit to God. The ‘flower’ is a symbol of what we are – so full, attractive and so light – so beautiful. Fruits are symbols of completeness. In the life cycle of a plant, fruits signify completeness. Also the fruit is the ultimate result. That is how we feel when we offer the symbolic fruit to God with all the gratitude for contentment in life.
We also light lamps. Indian tradition involves tall brass lamps with a swan carved at the top. This is a very beautiful symbol. It means that with the light of knowledge, one attains ‘Viveka’ a characteristic of the swan. In Sanskrit, it is called ‘Neerakshiraviveka’ meaning a swan can differentiate between milk and water even though both may be mixed. Similarly, in the context of Navaratri, there is a symbolism behind the ‘bull’ being destroyed by the ‘Devi’. What do we call someone who is very dull, thick skinned and insensitive? A buffalo! Only the Mother Divine can destroy this buffalo with the collective energy of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh! Just as a baby takes nine months to be born, the Devi took nine days to rest and what was born on the tenth day was pure love and devotion, with which the Devi conquered the buffalo of inertia and dullness! Devi Ma is not somebody holding a big ‘trishool’ in one hand.
She is a form of energy, a manifestation of the Divine itself. Therefore, sometimes, the forms taken by this Divine may be that of Ganesha, Chandi (Devi), Vishnu, Shiva….. and the manifestation, in this creation, happens in a mother’s womb…. in silence, secretly. So during these nine days of Navaratri when the Master goes into silence, the energy is in the process of getting more and more refined, well-tuned, to welcome the Mother Divine. This is called ‘Aradhana’.
Now these yagnas are not for the sages who perform them, but for the entire Universe for all the misery, sorrow, and pain in the world. The blessings of the yagnas and poojas teach the whole of humanity and a lot of good comes out of these – peace, strength, prosperity, success and faith – which by itself, is the best blessing. Gurudev says that the ninth day is a day for honoring everything that we have, no matter how seemingly insignificant, and the tenth day is ‘Vijaya Dashmi’ the ‘victory day’. It is only after we have honored something that we can gain victory over it. This day is celebrated as the victory of the Devi over the evil forces – which is also just ‘Maya’.