Navratri (or nine nights) is a Hindu holiday that honors Shakti or the Divine Feminine/Mother and looks to her for spiritual cleansing, guidance, and enlightenment. It lasts for nine nights and ten days. The nine nights are broken up into sets of three, and during each set a particular aspect of the Divine Mother is meditated upon. Each set of nights also corresponds with a particular spiritual goal and task.
The first set of nights are spent meditating upon the Divine Feminine in her powerful and destructive aspect known as Durga or Kali. We ask the goddess to help us identify and eliminate those aspects of our self that are not helpful, skillful, or productive, such as greed, envy, procrastination, laziness, lying, gossiping, etc. We also ask her to protect our spiritual practice from its many dangers and pitfalls.
The second set of nights are spent meditating upon the Divine Mother in her spiritual wealth-giving aspect know as Lakshmi. We ask the goddess to help us develop and maintain helpful qualities, such as patience, forgiveness, compassion, loving-kindness, and integrity.
The third set of nights are spent meditating upon the Divine Feminine in her spiritual wisdom-bestowing aspect known as Sarasvati. We ask the goddess to help us to achieve self-realization and understand universal truths such as our divine nature and the interconnectedness of living beings. The tenth day is spent offering gratitude to the Divine Mother and is spent celebrating in a state of sat-chit-ananda or truth-consciousness-bliss.
To Name These Days:
Prayers & Mantras
Chant the mantra "Om Bhavani" (“In the Name of the Divine Mother”) throughout the nine days.
Practice a breathing meditation. As you inhale, say the quality you are trying to cultivate; as you exhale, the quality you are trying to let go of. For example, on the inhale, I might say, “Breathing in Compassion” and on the exhale I might say, “Breathing out Criticism.”
Take time each of the nine days or at least once every three days to focus on the three aspects of the divine feminine that are within you and the corresponding spiritual tasks.
Days 1 - 3: Focus on your inner power and strength. Write down the qualities or habits you wish to let go of. Pick one of these and practice letting go of it.
Days 4 - 6: Focus on your inner life-giving force and nurturer. Write down the qualities or habits you wish to cultivate. Pick one of these and practice incorporating it.
Days 7 - 9: Focus on your inner wisdom and guide. Write down the spiritual teachings you wish to learn or better understand. Pick one and read an inspiring book or article about it.
Ami Bhalodkar is an interfaith minister. She is a member of the faculty of the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York City and lectures on Hinduism. In addition to providing interfaith workshops, Rev. Bhalodkar performs customized wedding ceremonies and offers spiritual counseling.