Navratri begins!

After doing my dark moon cleaning of the altar, I changed my altar just a little in preparation for Navratri. For the next 8 days I’ll observe this beautiful Hindu festival of Shakti principle. (I wrote about Navratri last year and recommend reading it for a little background.)

My Navratri altar

Navratri focuses on the manifestations of Durga, the Mahadevi, or in my Feri eyes, the Star Goddess, the Great Source from whom we all emerge and to whom we all return. For the next three days I’m focusing on the dark, purifying aspects, as seen in Kali. The picture of Kali, seen hung on the back of the case, is permanently affixed, as she is a deity I honor daily. While asking for boons and blessings is a common part of festivals and holidays, I like that this one kicks off with a focus on purification. It is not purification from our inherent evilness, but purification from the confusion of illusion (often self-inflicted), from obstacles to truth, and from the malaise of inaction. I’ve already made kala this morning and will make kala daily as part of my purification practice.

 

O, Kali Ma!

Slay the fears that limit my spirit.

O Kali Ma!

Dance upon the grave of my iniquities.

Many Hindus choose to fast for the entire holiday. That can mean any number of things: having only one meal a day, giving up meat, eating only grains and fruit…. ask ten Hindus, get ten different answers! I am abstaining from dairy and alcohol. (I already don’t eat grains, other than the occasional bit of rice.) I love dairy and alcohol. In fact, I have a 2/3 full bottle of bourbon sitting on my shelf and I’m not touching it! But I welcome this fast. It feels joyful and life-giving to me.

In the photo you can see a red scarf draped under my little table, with red candle holders. Sandalwood incense burns; the white shell holds two handfuls of rice as an offering. This morning I added a ramekin with turmeric in it. I’ll change out the offerings throughout the nine days. I plan to run the Iron and Pearl Pentacles, make kala, and have two sittings a day of prayer and meditation.

Already I feel the presence of Ma Durga. Her loving presence descended just a little last night, and I was grateful. This is a very personal holiday for me. I don’t have the kids involved at all. I retreat into my tiny office and sit at my altar – time just for me.

Jai Ma!

 

(If you observe Navratri, I’d love to hear how you involve your family, if at all.)

 

 

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About Niki Whiting
  • Prashant

    ..Nice Post..Yep I am observing fast for next 9 days ..then there will be celebration with Famous Garba Stick dance..Jai Mata Di.

  • http://www.haloquin.net Halo

    I didn’t know this festival was happening (or existed) but on Monday I received a book on Shakti Mantras and began reading the stories within (focussing on Durga, Saraswati and Lakshmi) and yesterday at work (the first day of Navratri) I began with mantras to Lakshmi. I love synchronicity! Today I’ve been planning to clear and rebuild my altar/s and do some more mantra work with the Goddesses, certainly an auspicious time!!! Thanks for sharing Niki.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram myownashram

      Yay! Auspicious indeed! Ma Durga and all her forms are delightful. I have found a surprising and ready connection whenever I dive deep into the Hindu tradition. Jai Ma! A blessed Navratri to you!

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  • http://ardhanarishwar.wordpress.com Dhrishti

    I’ve celebrated this each year since I began identifying as Hindu. The holiday’s manifestation looks different for me each year. My local temple holds festivities each night of the holiday and I sometimes go. Often the celebration is entirely at-home only and usually ends up being a very important and private time for me – Durga has always been dear to me, and the various roles of motherhood, too. I follow Mata Amrtanandamayi Ma, and since she’s known as Durga incarnate I have spent more than a few Navratris simply holding puja for her in the morning and again eveningly. Because of the nourishment I see coming from The Mother, I don’t usually fast in any way. Instead I enjoy fuller meals and partake somewhat slower than normal, giving special attention to how Mother fits into the Hindu mealtime prayer (Brahmarpanam…).

    Thank you for sharing!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram myownashram

      As I am pregnant this year, I have chosen not to fast, but to abstain from beef for the nine days. I usually avoid beef two days a week, but extended it for this holiday.

      I really love how everything about Hinduism can be as complex or as simple as time and life allow. I never cease to be amazed at the ‘juice’ in this tradition. I never, ever wish I had spent less time at my altar. I always walk away from my efforts nourished. Ma is very good!