ḍāsibhuta samasta ḍēva vanitām ḻōkaika dīpānkurām
ṣriman manda katākśa labdha vibhava brahmēndra gangādharām,
ṭvām ṭrailōkya kutumbinīm sarasijām vandēy ṃukunda priyām!
What is Navaratri?
Navarātri, also known as Sharad ( Sharan) Navarātri– a celebration of nine nights during the sharad ritu- autumn or fall season, in the month of āṣwayuja, ṣukla paksha – bright half of the lunar cycle- starting from Prathama tithi – first day – up to Dashami tithi - 10th day. The 10th day is celebrated as Vijayadashami.
What are the traditions during Navaratri?
This festival is also known as Kolu in some regions – which has become Golu- the festival of dolls and its arrangement. Socialization is one of the highlights which includes an opportunity for ladies to exhibit their artistic talent by arranging these dolls in exclusive designs, to invite young girls to each others house to view their talent, do the nīrājana and share different variety of sweet all the nine days. It is delightful to see women in their colorful dresses. On all days of Navarātri reading the Rāmāyana or at least Sundara Kānda is a common practice.
The dolls used to be idols of deities, made of mud, terracotta, porcelain, wood, bronze, ivory, sandalwood, soapstone, marble arranged in a grand manner in nine steps. Verities of international figurines are also part of collection and display in these days.
It is considered as sacred time of the year for the worship of the Divine Mother. The divine forms of mother are Lakshmi, Saraswati and Durga. Three days are dedicated to each of these forms. The continuity in which the three divine forms are worshipped sometimes differs from region to region. It is the time that is conducive to all types of auspicious activities and celebrations. One of the connotations of Durga means “fortress” that we are trapped in. This “fortress” can be broken down and become free by worship.
Scientifically speaking, there is a significant shift in climate in our solar system during this time of the year. The pure Divine Mother personifies nature too in its pristine form. The premise of worshiping is to cleanse inner-self to bring back its pristine state. Days with clear sky prevail which in turn signals attainment of inner wisdom and clarity. Just as lotus blooms in the lake, the heart lotus also should bloom and become pure being like the divine. Externally, it is a time we should fill ourselves with self-knowledge, and bring Vijaya or victory - by conquesting the ego
How do we worship during Navaratri?
From the Sri Vaishnava’s perspective, followers of Saviṣeśa ādvaita, it is Sri Tatva – Sri principle – that is worshipped. This Sri Tatva in the form of Maha Lakshmi, the divine consort of Sriman Nārāyana, is worshipped in various forms. Sri is the compassionate mother residing in the Vakshasthala-chest of the Sriman Nārāyana.
There are no stipulated rules for Sri Vaishnava’s about how to worship. Normal household practices of ārādhana and offerings are incorporated.
The Sri in eight-fold form is worshipped for eight days--
- Dhairya Lakshmi – represents courage
- Adi Lakshmi – the primordial form
- Dhana Lakshmi – in charge of wealth
- Dhānya Lakshmi – bounty aspect
- Gaja Lakshmi – for auspiciousness and prosperity
- Santāna Laskhmi – responsible for progeny
- Vidyā Lakshmi – for the domain of learning and wisdom
- Vijaya Lakshmi – for success
On the 9th day, Sri Lakshmi Hayagriva and Saraswati are worshipped along with musical instruments, other pertinent vehicles and instruments of trade.
Sriman Nārāyana in the form of Hayagriva rescued the Vedas and imparted the knowledge of the holy verses to Saraswati. On this day, we also respect Saraswati, especially her divine association and role in honouring Bhagavān Sri Rāmānujāchārya with the title of ‘Bhāshya Kāra’.
10th day - Vijaya Dashami
Vijayadashami is considered an extremely holy day of the year. Commencement of many auspicious events are undertaken on this day. Furthermore, this day signifies lord Sri Rāma destroying Rāvana, the embodiment of evil.
These 10 days are also considered to be a ten-day battle between Sri Rāma and the demon Rāvana. Sri Rama destroyed the ten heads of Rāvana (Dasha-hara). The ten heads also symbolise ten evils within all jēvātmas(self) such as
- kāma (lust)
- krōdha (anger),
- lōbha (greed),
- moha (delusion),
- mada (excessive pride),
- mātsarya (jealousy),
- ahankāra (arrogance/egoism),
- manas (mind),
- buddhi (intellect)
- chitta (will)
For the Vadakalai sampradāya, this day of Vijayadashami is also celebrated as the birthday of Sri Vedānta Deshikar.
ṣriman ṇārayanāya charnau ṣaranam prapadyē
ṣrimathē ṇārayanāya ṇamaha
ṣrimathē rāmanujaya ṇamaha
ṣri ṇigamāntha ṃahādēṣikāya ṇamaha
ṣri ṃaṇavāḻa ṃāmunayē ṇamaha