Navratri is a nine night festival dedicated to celebrating the divine qualities of Mother Nature. While this festival has been observed in India for thousands of years, as with most rituals over time, most people today no longer understand the science and significance behind the ritual and its practices. In essence, the festival reveres the dynamic aspects of cosmic feminine energy, which is the power of Nature—Energy and Matter.
According to the scientists of ancient India, the aspects of Mother Nature have three primary personified qualities – Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati. Mahakali represents destruction, Mahalakshmi represents prosperity and abundance, and Mahasaraswati represents knowledge, wisdom and creativity. Each of these qualities of Nature, or Goddesses, are celebrated for three nights each, and on the tenth day of the festival Vijay Dashmi is celebrated as the day of victory. Ultimately, the goal is for each of us, as individuals, to use these nine nights to cleanse our bodies and our being.
This cleansing occurs in both physical and spiritual domains. Benefits, therefore, are experienced through both physical and spiritual wellbeing.
The Physical Practice
Navratri is the time of the year when all nature changes its garb. It is the end of fall and beginning of winter. According to ancient Indian science, the wellbeing and evolution of Nature aligns with our inner wellbeing and evolution. The Navratri celebration, thus, is an occasion that is perfectly aligned to nature and her changing of seasons: it is a time to express gratitude to the earth and nature through the processes of healing ourselves. Eating light food, mainly raw food and foods with no gluten, helps to detoxify the body and make it feel lighter and cleansed. Detoxification prepares the body for the coming winter. Foods like buckwheat, foxtail millet and Amaranth are consumed since they are nourishing and easy to digest. Light food helps the body relax and makes it easier for the mind to focus on the even more important task of cleansing the spirit.
The Spiritual Practice
Navratri symbolizes the victory of truth over falsehood, good over evil, virtue over vice. Aside from the physical cleansing of eating light foods, avoiding gluten and heavy spices like onion and garlic, the nine nights represent a spiritual journey from darkness to light, and ignorance to wisdom.
The Goddess Mahakali is worshiped on the first three nights. The destruction of the demons by the Goddess represents the annihilation of ignorance. With the destruction of the negative tendencies of the mind and removal of negative traits and tendencies begins the nurturing of virtue.
The following three nights are dedicated to Goddess Mahalakshmi. After the destruction of negativity and cleansing comes the generation of abundance and plenty. Goddess Mahalakshmi bestows physical, mental and spiritual abundance. Mahalakshmi represents material wealth, but she also showers riches of physical well being and all the qualities related to abundance—service, compassion and love. With a purified mind we can prepare for the final awakening of wisdom.
The last three nights are spent remembering Goddess Mahasaraswati. Worship and veneration of Mahasaraswati is a symbolic practice of remembering that the source of creativity and wisdom is within all of us, and through meditation and balanced living, we all have the ability to bring out the Saraswati of creation and knowledge in life around us. Vijay Dashmi, the tenth night is the night of victory, a night of celebration, marking the battle of the mind and the senses fighting to experiencing the true self, that is pure infinite consciousness.
Meditation and other physical and spiritual exercises are all for the purpose of cleansing the spirit, in line with the devotional aspects of each day.
With the awareness of the scientific and spiritual origins of this Festival, comes an understanding of how to truly celebrate and honor these Nine Nights. Through both spiritual and physical practices, we can align ourselves with the cosmic energy of Mother Nature and the Goddesses which personify Her. Let’s welcome the new season with a wholesome body, mind and spirit!
To celebrate the Nine Nights, join us for The Goddess Festival at Devang House and enjoy a different Detox Thali each day of the festival, as well as a series of events to nurture the body and spirit.
Dr. Chhaya S. Chaudhry has dedicated her life to the science of Holistic Health and Herbal Medicines. For over thirty years, she has researched the right diets, lifestyles and therapies that allow the body to thrive in a state of balance and wholeness. She received her PhD in Integrative Health after researching natural solutions to treat and cure Type 2 Diabetes, before leading a panel of international scientists to develop herbal-medicines that address the world’s prevalent chronic lifestyle diseases without harmful side effects.