Today is Maha-Navami – the 9th Day of Sharad Navratri. The day of the last battle between Devi and Demons and tomorrow we will be celebrating Vijay (Winning) of Devi over the Demon on their tenth day of battle.
The literal meaning of Navratri is Nine Nights and still, over time we have somehow constricted this festival to daytime celebration only with activities like Garba Dance, Going to Temples, Fasting with specially made fast thalis, etc.
In all these, we have forgotten the true meaning and significance of these sacred and precious nine days which demands a celebration of our inner energy and not outwardly festivities. Whoever named it Navratri and not Navdin must have understood what these 9 days must represent in our life. It’s up to us now to fully understand its true meaning and change our ways to celebrate the divine in its most authentic way.
The night is the time of rest, of relaxation, of letting go, of surrendering, and of disconnecting from this world and connect to our inner self. In the worldly affairs that consume us daily, we forget to connect with the inner, and our higher self. Navratri which falls during summer and winter solstice, a special astronomical placement, is the best time to detach ourselves from our daily mundane tasks and worries, and instead go back to that cosmic energy to rejuvenate our mind and soul.
The best way to do so is to meditate and chant her name through mantras. When I say ‘her’, I mean the divine cosmic energy. It is peculiar that we have attached the significance of Devi Pooja to women empowerment and feminism, but the divine does not have any gender. It is Energy. It is Purusha and Prakriti. To simplify it we may call it male and female energy, but it does not literally translate to males and females as in man and woman. It is just energy without any gender or body shape. One is a vessel, and another is the action done through that vessel. One is passive another is active. Sun and Moon. Day and Night. Thus, mostly all our festivals are derived from the lunar cycle including Navratri.
Come to think of it, in this harsh world maybe we need more of this feminine energy in all of us. That is why on the final day we break our fast by first offering it to Kanya(s) (small girls). This too we have taken into the literal meaning and go after the small girls who represent virginity and haven’t menstruated yet. We forget that everything in Sanatan Dharam has a deeper meaning than selecting girls to feed based on their age and look. It should be a day where you feed your qualities which are more like a Kanya; surrendering towards mother, innocent, lust-free, observant, student not master, willing to change, and many more. We need to empower and nourish these qualities of us before we go back to this world of Maya. We all need more kindness, more compassion, more empathy, and yet be more creative, more active, and more constructive; don’t forget to be all this while still sitting on a Lion.
These 9 days/nights are to celebrate this energy, the lunar, female, and active part of it. To do that first step is to detach from another side of female energy, the Maya. That is why our rituals tell us to fast, stay away from lies, deceit, and otherworldly poisons, and instead of it, deep dive into nights of meditation. Fasting is done not to please Devi. Just think of it this way, if you consider her your mother; no mother is happy to see her kids starve themselves. She would never ask her kids to stay hungry to please her. Fasting is done to give much-needed rest to our body so that it can rejuvenate too. It saves energy when our body does not need to spend much time digesting food all day. Instead, this energy is spent in connecting with the divine. Those who fast by eating all day and relishing the specially made fasting treats, need to ponder on this.
I do not understand why this notion was built into us that we should always be full, our tummy should not be empty. We never let our stomach be empty or feel hunger. As soon as we felt the first pang of hunger, we try to fill it up with as much food as we can. In true essence, we should only eat what our body needs for survival. In fasting time, we stay away from certain foods and eat only at certain intervals. This helps our digestive system not to spend much needed time and energy on digesting a cocktail of heavy food on a full stomach.
When we eat light, our body feels light and comfortable. Our mind is awake and not dull from food effects. Our senses are sharp too. When we detach from the outside, that is the time to go inside. Time to seek what is inside us. Time to gain by connecting with the cosmic energy which runs this universe. Just think how joyous these 9 nights would be when you are dancing with this cosmic energy filled with her love and abundance. How joyful… there is bliss in this fasting and meditation. Chant her mantra and invoke her inside you. So much energy, so much love within you. A Raas-Leela of Krishna and Radha’s pure love where divine is dancing with the soul as its lover. So much bliss.
Do this dance every night with your higher self and your days would be nonstop celebrations of love. In the daytime, offer her prayers and be grateful for all you have received. Dance as much as you can; be joyous,; share with your family, friends, and neighbors; visit holy places and get submersed in their vibrations. Celebrate Big.
Nine days of self-improvement, nine nights of raising your energy from Muladhara chakra to meeting him at the heights of supreme power, nine days and nights of fighting this inner battle with your demons and emerge Vijayi (winner) on the tenth day. That is how I see this Navratri for all.
Wish you all a Happy Navratri and Vijayadashami.