The meaning of Navaratri, 9 Nights of Goddess Energy
Autumn signals ever colder, darker nights and this can leave many of us feeling physically and emotionally fatigued. At times of weakness we need to summon strength and this can take many forms. So it's fortunate that October usually signals the start of Navatri – the 9-day Indian festival devoted to Durga – the Goddess of Shakti/power and strength.
Nava-ratri translates to ‘nav’ meaning 9, ‘ra’ meaning night and ‘tri’ meaning the three aspects of mind, body and soul. This festival happens when we celebrate spring and sowing seeds and autumn, when we reap the harvest. The exact dates are determined by the lunar calendar and the celebrations pay homage to the 3 aspects of Goddess Durga as Kali, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Together the three aspects of Durga represent the divine feminine energy that creates all that is. Here we share with you how you can tap into the divine at this sacred time and in doing so supercharge your inner strength to bring you greater fulfilment and peace.
For the first three nights of Navaratri, meditate on the destructive aspect of Durga as Kali – a symbol of change, power, creation, preservation and back to destruction. Here we see Kali as the destroyer of ego and mind-made personality that cultivates fear based thinking, leading to anger, greed and hatred. This is not a time to deny these aspects of your personality, as to deny is to strengthen. Instead use this time to reach a greater understanding of when and where these mind-made habits took form and how they are triggered in the present. Realise deeply you are not these labels and allow the feelings to come and then go. Thank these feelings for bringing you closer to the aspects you wish to cultivate, which are your true nature. Let Kali guide you to turn anger into patience, greed into trust and hatred into love. Above all this is a time to simply surrender, knowing that nothing is permanent. Kali is often depicted with her tongue hanging out and you may know this stance from yoga - you exhale the negative and let it go.
Spend the next three nights meditating upon the Divine Mother as Lakshmi – the Goddess of Abundance. Depicted with four arms, sitting resplendent on a full-bloomed lotus with gold coins cascading from her hands, Lakshmi represents the beauty and bounty of nature. Her four arms represent the four ends of human life: “dharma” or righteousness, “kama” or desire, “artha” or wealth and “moksha” or liberation from the cycle of birth and death. This is the perfect time to connect to your heart space and get clear on what abundance means to you. Trust that the abundance meant for you cannot be taken and is simply waiting until you are ready to receive the download and that can only happen when you get clear and free from free of fear. During these three days, give freely of all you would love to receive. Nurture yourself by creating sacred space for beautifying, balancing rituals, buy yourself something special and then wear it - special occasion or not; savour good food, give compliments and be open to receiving them - this is the time to feel abundant with all your being. And if you don't do it already, now is the time to write your gratitude journal - fill it with all you already feel grateful for and watch it multiply.
On the final three nights, meditate upon the Divine Feminine as the wisdom-bestowing aspect known as Saraswati. The Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts and wisdom, Saraswati brings the joy of learning and of self-realisation. This is an excellent time to sign up for a course, read inspiring articles, read a translated version of the Gayatri Mantra to further deepen your knowledge and create a mediate practice. Equally, it is a time to create a ‘to don’t list’. Learning should be fun and if you have a long list that is not getting done, ask yourself if you ever really wanted to do it in the first place? Why set yourself up to fail? Who are you proving things to and for? Use this time to truly connect to what you want and give up everything else. Think about all the lessons you have learnt and give thanks for growing wisdom.
Throughout the 10 days focus on breathing as an opportunity to inhale the qualities you wish to nurture and exhale the qualities that no longer serve you. Traditionally, the 10th day concludes by offering 9 girls from the local neighbourhood treats of some kind, be it sweets and clothing - basically you are adoring and offering to the divine goddesses. We offer gratitude to the Divine Mother and celebrate in a state of sat-chit-ananda or truth-consciousness-bliss and conclude with Vijayadasami (Vijay -victory and dasami - tenth day), symbolising the victory of the Goddess over all demonic forces. Think about the small but significiant victories you have made as you have focused on Durga and give thanks for how far you have come. Thank you to Kamil Sekerali for his brilliant illustration and to our beautiful customer Anoushka Silvaome for instigating and co-writing this article.