Deciphering the Seasonal Rhythm – navratri & Sharad Purnima
Navratri is an effervescent and profoundly significant Hindu festival observed over nine days. It’s a period characterised by devotion and fasting, during which adherents venerate the nine forms of the divine feminine, also known as Durga Ma.
Each of these forms symbolises a distinct facet of the goddess and is revered over the nine nights of Navratri, encompassing:
The religious connotation
The Legend of Goddess Shakhambari Devi’s narrative of Goddess Shakhambari Devi is an enchanting saga deeply entwined with the Sharad Ritu, shedding light on the mythological underpinnings of the season’s significance. When a drought plagued the Earth, and the flora withered away, deities and mortals offered ardent prayers for relief. In response, Goddess Shakhambari Devi descended, and for nine days and nights, she significantly transformed into abundant vegetation, rejuvenating the Earth’s fertility.
This myth stands as a testament to the life-giving force of nature and divine intervention in times of crisis, elevating Navratri as a celebration of gratitude for the Earth’s abundance.
The festival commemorates the conquest of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura, symbolising the victory of good over evil. It serves as a reminder that the divine feminine energy can overcome even the most formidable challenges.
Empowerment of Women
The celebration of Goddess Durga, an emblem of female strength and divinity, promotes women’s empowerment and underscores their significance in society. It advocates gender equality and fosters respect and reverence for women.
Navratri unfolds as a spiritual and cultural extravaganza that pays tribute to the divine feminine, upholds the tenets of righteousness, and fosters communal togetherness. It serves as a reminder of the timeless struggle between good and evil, culminating in the triumph of righteousness while also affording devotees an opportunity for self-purification and spiritual growth.
Significance of Sharad Purnima
Sharad Purnima celebrates the night that the Raaslila (a circular dance) was performed between Radha Krishna and the Gopis (milkmaids) of Braj. Shiva took the form of Gopeshwar Mahadev to participate in this divine Raas.
Scientifically, the Moon and the Earth are closest among all other days in the year on Sharad Purnima. The moonlight is said to have healing properties on this night. It is, therefore, that keeping eatables and offering in the moonlight today, have healing properties
The Sharad Ritu is closely linked to the pursuit of physical equilibrium and well-being, mind & body balance. One of the simple yet profoundly meaningful rituals associated with this season is Sharad Purnima, which falls on the 28th of October, 2023. On this full moon night, it is customary to store water in vessels made of earthenware, silver, or copper and place them beneath the moon’s gentle radiance. The consumption of this moon-blessed water the following day is believed to harmonise the body and mind, a way of attuning oneself to the natural cadence of the season.
In addition to these practices, many other customs and traditions are observed during the Sharad Ritu. These include offering fragrant rose flowers, draping deities in pristine white attire, and preparing and presenting Kheer, a traditional Indian rice pudding. These rituals serve as a conduit to honour the divine and cultivate a sense of purity and devotion during this specific juncture of the year.
The article is co authored with N Radha Arora, renowned yoga expert and holistic teacher working with people with special needs.