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Navaratri 2018

by Amrita McKinney

Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) celebrated the nine days of Navaratri October 10-18, 2018. Navaratri is a special time of year for Hindus as they honor the feminine presence of Durga in her nine manifestations. One could feel the love and Divine Mother’s presence radiate throughout the ashram during this holy time.

Over the course of the nine days, the ashram provided talks on the meaning and significance of Navaratri. Morning and evening aartis brought together the ashram community to worship and give thanks to Divine Mother.

On the 13th, the SRSG community was invited to Sadhana Mandir for an evening of kirtans led by Ragani, a long time disciple of Swami Rama. Ashram staff provided transportation to the event, and a crowded room of participants enjoyed an evening of lively and soulful chanting to Divine Mother.

Local pundits, sitting alone or in the company of other pundits and sadhakas, continuously chanted the 1000 names of Divine Mother from the Shri Lalita Sahasranamam. As one walked by or visited the Tara Devi and Shiva Temples to sit or meditate, the unbroken chanting infused the air. It was a wonderful reminder of how important it is to give thanks and take time to reflect on the presence of the Divine in our daily lives.

On the first day of Navaratri, seeds of barley are planted. The sprouting of seeds is a Navaratri ritual throughout India. The green shoots grow taller each day and express the gift of life and the fertility power of the Goddess. On the last day, the pundits distribute the shoots with prasad.

The celebrations culminated on the ninth morning with the Hindu custom of Kanya Puja. Nine young girls were invited to participate. Each girl represented one of the nine manifestations of Durga. The girls, donned in bright, colorful dresses, and one boy, representing Bhairava, sat in a row under the tent erected between the two temples.

Swami Ritavan lovingly washed their feet in rose petalled water. A mauli (sacred thread) was tied around their right wrists; a tilak with a few grains of rice is applied to their foreheads.

Each girl’s head was covered with a red and gold lace-like headscarf. How they radiated. Indeed, they looked like miniature devis! The ten children were served a special prasadam luncheon by Swami Ritavan, ashram staff and sadhakas, and each was gifted an envelope of money as a gesture of love.

On the evening of the 19th, as the ashram returned to its gentle quietness, celebrations continued throughout Rishikesh as the enactment of the battle of good over evil drew to a close.

In love and light, amrita




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