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Navarātri: What is it and How do we Celebrate?

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

Spirituality is not always about transcendence, at least not in the tantrik tradition.


Tantra does honour and incorporate transcendence (Shiva) into its practices and philosophies. However, this is only one aspect of a greater whole. Many Tantrik traditions also see the divinity in immanence (Shakti); they honour the sacred in form. Navarātri is a time to worship and cultivate the divine power of Shakti.



What is Navarātri?


Navarātri is an auspicious festival happening in India and around the world that celebrates the Great Goddess. Many know Navarātri as a 9-night festival dedicated to the Goddess Durga. In some traditions, Hindu Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati are equally worshipped.


In other traditions and in the Shivoham Tantra Lineage, we worship one of the Das Mahā Vidyā-s, or “10 Great Wisdom Goddesses.” This sacred time is a celebration of good overcoming evil, the divine feminine, and working with the Goddess to bring more balance and harmony in our lives, both spiritually and materially. For Tantrika-s there are actually 4 Navarātris per year with the two most important, and the ones celebrated at Anuttara, being in Spring and Fall.


 

The Das Mahā Vidyā-s



Das = 10

Mahā = Great

Vidyā = Wisdom or Cosmic Power




In Tantra, the Das Mahā Vidyā-s are Goddess deities that symbolize different qualities that can aid the practitioner along the spiritual path. Although the Goddesses may appear to have personalities they should not be mistaken as ego but rather as energetic attributes.

Each goddess only desires to bring peace and happiness, though their methods of how to do so will vary.


Each of the Das Mahā Vidyā-s will serve the practitioner at different points in the spiritual journey. Their mythologies are meant to be taken symbolically and can therefore be present in an infinitely unique number of manifestations.


 

Navarātri in the Shivoham Lineage


In the Shivoham Lineage, supported by enlightened tantrik master Guruji Maharaj Kumar, Navarātri is a uniquely special experience. Guruji is able to feel into which of the Das Mahā Vidyā-s is most prominent on earth at the given time and we dedicate the entire festival to that particular Goddess.


Therefore, each Navarātri is different and the power of sādhanā (spiritual practice) is greatly amplified as the energy is strong and available. Practicing Navarātri at Anuttara we are guided by experienced teachers and supported by the entire Shivoham Lineage including blessings from Guruji himself.



“I went to some deep places that ‘normal’ meditation doesn’t always seem to touch on” - Sunny




How do we celebrate?


Pūjā

Derived from the word flower, pūjā refers to ceremonial worship; it is a way to offer prayer. We recite stotram-s (hymns) for the specific deity we are working with as a practice of devotion.



Mantra

Each day we sit together for mantra japa, anywhere between 1-9 hours. This is the internal chanting of sacred syllables, most often in Sanskrit, which have been empowered by a guru or teacher. The mantra-s used in Navarātri are considered to be a form of the Goddess herself and are used to awaken her energy within our own being.



Yantra

At the ashram, we build an empowered living yantra which is considered to be the body of the Goddess. Yantra is a form of sacred geometry and through its empowering process, the energy of the Goddess comes in to occupy this space, helping to amplify our practice even further.



Yajña

One of the most important tools of tantra, yajña is a sacred fire ceremony which combines both mantra and yantra. The yajña kund (sacred fire pit) is an empowered space in the shape of a yantra, and we offer to the fire sattvic or pure foods such as rice while chanting mantra. This process calls in the energy of the Goddess very strongly and through devotion and offerings, her power and Grace is bestowed upon and activated within the practitioner.



Feast

At the end of the festival, we have a group feast and share in the blessings of the celebration. There is an acceptance of the energy from the duration of the festival, an offering of blessings into the food (prasād), and through eating the food the blessings are received tenfold.



 

How to Participate


There are multiple ways to participate in Navarātri both in-person and online.


In-Person:


Come to the ashram in the secluded northern mountains of British Columbia. Practice empowered mantra, build a living yantra, participate in yajña, join our celebratory feast, practice daily worship (pūjā), sit in on supportive lectures, live in like-hearted community, and much more.


You are welcome to join for part or all of the festival. We have camping, dormitory, or cabin options available for you and all meals will be included.







“I’m very new to this, I haven’t done much seated meditation and I felt the community was very receptive when I would ask questions. I didn’t feel embarrassed to ask ‘Hey, who is Kali? What is Navarātri?’” - Georgia


Online:


Receive a mantra to work with from the Shivoham Lineage for the specific Goddess being worshipped at the time. Connect with the power of the practices happening at Anuttara Ashram and Shivoham Ashram from the comfort of your own home. This option is by donation.



For both options, it is recommended to move through our free online course “Tantrik Mantra Sādhanā” prior to, which provides an overview of the methods and techniques to practice in the most efficient and traditional way.



Conclusion


All in all, Navarātri is a way to celebrate the Divine Feminine in one of her many energetic manifestations. By honouring the Goddess, we also honour ourselves and the ways we may benefit from her blessings.


We also honour not only the pleasant aspects of ourselves like shining emotions, sharp intellect, etc. but also the unpleasant, the parts of our lives we may not like.


The Divine Feminine encapsulates all things, shining her limitless love and power upon all experience and form, which is why we bring her energy to us. Through celebration and worship, we activate aspects of the divine in and around us to support our spiritual journey, wherever we may be on the path.

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