Navaratri, the nine-day festival dedicated to Devi, conveys the message of worshipping and surrendering to God. We worship God in the form of Mother, with the goal of attaining liberation and attaining all things auspicious.
In order to remove the sorrows and sufferings we experience in life and to attain divine grace and success, we must practice spiritual disciplines and worship God constantly. Festivals like Navaratri act as steps to achieve these goals.
This world is like a supermarket, wherein anything and everything is available. But first, we must figure out which of our desires are truly worthwhile.
In truth, God, or the Divine Mother, is the only goal we need to embrace. God alone is the ultimate refuge and protector.
The days of Navaratri are a time of penance to cleanse one’s body and mind. The primary observance is constant remembrance of God. During Navaratri, devotees usually observe rituals like worshipping Devi, chanting the thousand names of Devi, and reciting the Devi Mahatmyam and Devi Bhagavatam. Equally important is fasting or upavasam. ‘Upavasam’ literally means being near God and turning our senses towards Him. At the same time, we need to exercise control over food. There are people who forego food entirely or just take food once a day during this nine-day period. At the very least, one ought to forego non-vegetarian food at this time.
We gain energy not only from the food we consume, but also from breathing and sunlight. When we reduce the intake of gross food, the power of the body and mind to absorb subtle energy is enhanced. If done intelligently, one will not feel weak or tired while fasting. On the contrary, one will gain more energy, one-pointedness and peace.
Penance and discipline are practical ways to subdue to the constant waves of the mind. The more we bring the mind under control, the more strength it gains. In order to build a boat, one must bend the wood. To do so, the wood is heated. All spiritual disciplines are like this. They help to bring the mind under control. Moreover, through religious observances, we also receive the grace from the deities we worship.
All success in life comes from God’s blessings and His power. Navaratri awakens this awareness in us and teaches us not to be egoistic about our successes. May our lives become divine and blessed through right knowledge and effort. May the Divine Mother bless us all.
Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi