Navaratri, which means “nine nights,” is a celebration which has been observed for centuries throughout India. Navaratri honors the Devi, the great Goddess and divine Mother. It begins on the first new moon in early autumn and culminates on the tenth lunar day with the celebration of Dasera. In 2017 the ten lunar days span eleven solar days, which means there is an extra night to celebrate the Goddess.
The tradition of Navaratri is recounted in the Devi-Mahatmya, an Indian text from the Markandeya Purana. In this story the goddess Durga, who encompasses all forms of the Devi, spends nine days in battle with the buffalo demon Mahishasura. The demon embodies the ego and the forces of ignorance. The goddess Durga defeated the demon on the tenth day, or Dasera, in a triumph of light over darkness, good over evil.
In Western India, one of the highlights of Navaratri is garba dancing as part of evening worship of the Devi. Groups dance in concentric circles around the garba deep, an oil lamp that represents the light of the Devi, while rhythmically tapping small decorated sticks.
On the Siddha Yoga path, the Devi is recognized as Kundalini Shakti, the divine creative power that both unfolds the universe and propels the sadhana of an individual seeker. Once the Guru awakens a seeker’s Kundalini Shakti through the gift of shaktipat diksha, the seeker’s journey toward union with their inner divinity begins.
During Navaratri, Siddha Yogis worship the Devi, Kundalini Shakti, in three of her forms: Mahadurga, Mahalakshmi, and Mahasarasvati. Each of these forms of the Devi, in their own way, supports a seeker’s progression toward the light that is their true nature.
September 20 - 22
The first three nights of Navaratri honor Mahadurga, the form of the Devi that dissolves ignorance. Mahadurga destroys limitations and strengthens our courage. She helps us overcome fear and ignorance so we can persevere on the spiritual path and perceive our true nature.
September 23 - 26
The next four nights honor Mahalakshmi, the goddess of abundance, beauty, and growth. When we pray to Mahalakshmi, she brings spiritual wealth, inspires generosity, and helps us to recognize the abundance and beauty that exists within us and in the world around us.
September 27 - 29
The final three nights honor Mahasarasvati, the embodiment of wisdom, creativity, and artistic expression. Worship of Mahasarasvati cultivates learning, noble thoughts, and eloquent, truthful speech. She is the inspiration for musicians, artists, writers, and students.
Dasera is one of the three and a half most auspicious days in the year. In India, auspicious days and nights are determined by the panchanga, which is a traditional minute-by-minute lunar calendar. Dasera is one of the most favorable days to begin a project, especially one that involves knowledge, art, or music.
Dasera celebrates the victory of the Goddess, the triumph of the supreme light.
According to the Mahabharata epic, Dasera is also the day when the Pandava brothers returned from thirteen years of exile and re-established righteousness in the world. Upon their return, the Pandavas regained their weapons and did puja to them. Therefore, on Dasera it is traditional to honor the tools of one’s trade.