What is Navaratri?
Predominantly known as the nine nights dedicated to Goddess worship reminiscing the Goddess’s war to restore peace, prosperity and dharma. Navaratri celebrations are commonly known to be found in Myths (Purana) where the whole war and demons are described elaborately. However, Navaratri celebrations are mentioned in scriptures (Shaivagama) which are dated far before Puranas and provide a different perspective towards Goddess worship.
Who is Shakti?
Shakti, the beloved name of The Divine Mother or the Maternal Energy who is spread across the Universe. In Shaivism, She is considered the expression of Shiva and the only one to whom Shiva’s teachings are shared first. She kindles the light in Shiva through Her questions and there cannot be another better way to explore Pure Knowledge.
The foundation of Shaivism, the Shaivagama scriptures were first shared to Shakti, who then revealed it to Saints and later practised as a religion by followers. There is no comparison between Shiva and Shakti or any analysis of Who is better than who, as they both are incomparable and inseparable, like speech and it’s intention (Vaagarthau). Shaivagama scriptures are dated along with Vedas and so the description of Shakti and the ways to worship Her are as unique and encrypted as the Vedas.
How to celebrate Navaratri?
Shaivites are initiated with certain religious practices since their childhood and their worship consists of five main deities namely, Shiva, Shakti, Ganapathi, Surya, and Chandeshwara. (Note: For some sects, Surya is replaced with Muruga). During Navaratri, a complete Yagashala (House of Worship) is created with multiples of pots and fire-pits for Goddess and ten days of worship is carried out with unique procedures and mantras. Nowadays, this practice is followed in Shaivaite temples alone.
The modern Navaratri worship, which is for either Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati or Nine forms of Durga, have all been recently designed from scriptures from Shakta tradition. Shaivite scriptures demand lots of prerequisite rituals and initiations to worship Goddess, which was more of an obstacle for common public. That is when Shakta tradition took upon the responsibility to connect people easily towards their favorite Goddesses. Kaulachara (Left-hand worship) or commonly known as Tantrism, constitutes major part of Shakta tradition in which Goddess is depicted as the Ultimate Energy (Parabrahma). Tantrism guides in almost all aspects of life under strict supervision of a Guru. The rituals of Shakta tradition such as Kundalini Yoga are quite similar to Shaivism but the philosophies behind them are far different.
The best way to celebrate Navaratri for common people would be to respect women by offering them traditional materials like Saree, jewels and sweets. If you used to practise Kundalini yoga and have long forgotten it, this is the best time to restart your practices and connect with your energy.
If you are the kind of person who decorates the house with dolls and Kalash and perform nine days of various rituals. Keep doing the great job 🙂
Have a blessed Navaratri!
Jai Mata Di
Team Vedic Seva