I am writing yet another brief newsletter to inform you of the latest developments about Spring Navratri at our Ashram in India and the Ashram here. It is definitely a different time for many of us but that does not mean we cannot still connect in a very deep way. We can celebrate and thank our gracious Divine Mother together no matter how far we may be apart in distance. This edition of the newsletter is dedicated to presenting the many ways you can participate in Spring Navratri.
Notice from the Indian Ashram:
"Dear Brothers & Sisters, with a heavy heart I have to announce the cancellation of the Navratri celebrations from 25th March to 2nd April at Haidakhan Vishwamahadham. This decision has been taken by the senior leadership team as per Govt of India’s directive to contain the COVID-19 Virus infection & to prevent healthy people from getting infected. The W.H.O (World Health Organization) has declared this as a Pandemic I.e. worldwide infection. All devotees both Indian & Foreign are hereby directed not to go to Haidakhan. Anybody reaching there in-spite of this directive shall be turned back & not allowed to enter the Ashram. By Order, (Hony) Brig Dr Arvind Lal, Chairman & Senior Leadership Team, Haidakhandi Samaj"
Notice from the Crestone Ashram:
"It is with saddened heart that we share the news that the Haidakhandi Universal Ashram here in Crestone Colorado, USA, in the public and residents' best interest, has cancelled Spring Navratri, the New moon fire ceremony on March 24, and will not be open for overnight guests or use of the Ashram kitchen until further notice. We will miss having all of you here. We are going to try record some of the ceremonies so you can join in from home. Read the details below so we can stay connected."
I am reminded of a speech that Shri Babaji gave in 1983 on the occasion of the festival of Harela (celebrating the beginning of the rainy season and fertility.) He said: "Today is the auspicious day of Harela and I want to say to all of you 'Happy Harela'. This applies also to everyone in this country and to people from all other countries, to those present and to those not actually present here. I extend my blessings on this sacred occasion to every devotee of the Lord, wherever he may be. Those physically distant from here should not think they are far away - they are equally close to Me. Though they may be thousands of miles away, they can still reach me by practicing devotion."
I think we can change Harela to Happy Navratri and know in our hearts that we are all equally close to Baba and the Divine Mother by practicing devotion. Our love transcends all of the miles of the universe! I look forward to speaking and connecting with many of you at this different, revealing, and holy time.
In deep deep gratitude and love to you all, Ramloti
About Spring Navratri
Sharad Navratri or Spring Navratri is the most popular and significant Navratri amongst all the Navratris and is known as Maha Navratri. This festival is of great importance and was celebrated in the Mahabharata and Ramayana era. This is a long festival comprising of nine days and nights, the number 9 indicates Shakti – the power and energy which creates the whole universe, i.e. Creative Energy. Hence, this power of Nine Divine Nights can change the life, destiny and, future of an individual. Navratri comes in our life as a Divine Light and Power in the form of Hope.
The Navratri that we have been performing for many, many years at the Ashram here in Crestone was taught to Ramloti by Shri Vishnu Dutt Shastri. Each day consists of paduka puja (6am), hymns to Mother (6:45am), aarati (7am), Devi Puja (8am), recitation of the Haidakhandeswari Sapta Sati (8:30am), Sacred Fire Ceremony (10am), Chanting (10:45am), and Discourse (11am) from the SriMad Devi Bhagavatam. These all occur in the morning until about noon. The remainder of the day consists of a meal (if you are eating; many people do some kind of fast such as: no food, only fruits and vegetables, one meal a day), karma yoga, japa, rest, evening aarati and chanting. We are hoping to record the Devi puja, Fire Ceremony, chanting and Discourse and upload them to YouTube each afternoon, so you can follow along, even if it is one day late. It is the best we can do at this time as we have no internet in the temple and at the havan kund, we actually prefer the quiet energy. We have the aarati CD and book and the Sapta Sati CD and book available. You can purchase these and follow the scheduled timings. We also have a mala for japa from Babaji and a wrist mala from the Divine Mother for japa, as this is an excellent practice during Navratri. The Mother Mantra that I have been taught to repeat is "Om Aim Hrim Klim Chamundayai Viche". (“Om salutations to the Goddess in all of Her forms. May You bless me with Your courage and strength and allow for the speedy fulfillment of my aspirations and desires.”) So you can do the whole Navratri right in your home, or whatever part you would like.
So that you will know more about the days, I am going to describe the significance of each, what color Mother wears on that day, and the individual aspect of Mother. If you choose to sponsor a Devi Puja or a Fire Ceremony, this will give you information on what day or days would be most meaningful or helpful for you to sponsor.
About Sponsorship of a Navratri Fire Ceremony or Devi Puja
If you would like to participate by sponsoring a fire ceremony or a Devi Puja we will send you a blessed item from the Fire Ceremony and Devi Puja if you request. Just click the link under the day
you would like to sponsor and as you pay add to the comment the day you want to sponsor.
$54 sponsorship - Rudraksha, Rosewood, or Tulsi Mala
$108 sponsorship - Rose Quartz Mala or a copper, silver, brass Om Haidakhandi bracelet
$216 sponsorship - Receive the silk mala that Babaji wore to the fire that day and a bottle of Ashram-made ghee made especially for that day's fire.
The Devi Puja
Each morning at 8am we do a sweet puja to the deity of the day. The first three days of Navratri we honor Mother Durga. She helps purify and destroy the aspects in us that keep us from our spiritual path. On the next three days, we honor Mother Lakshmi, asking Her to fill in the places we have just eliminated with more satvic or life-giving qualities. The final three days, we honor Mother Saraswati, asking Her to assist us in putting our new satvic qualities into action. She is also the one that bestows Divine Knowledge on us. During the Maha Saraswati time we bless the musical instruments in the temple, since she is also the Patroness of the Arts and Knowledge. These are the Murtis or statues that we will be bathing and dressing at the 8am Devi Puja.
As we go through the individual aspects of the Mother per day, I will also include the Devi Puja Goddess, the color Mother normally wears on that day, and explain the individual aspect of the day.
It is said that during Navratri, the mother Goddess appears in 9 different forms, and each one is worshipped for a day. These 9 forms signify the various traits that are influenced by the Goddess. According to the Markendeya Puran the worship days for the various forms of Goddess Durga are as follows:
Day One - Wednesday, March 25
It is a Maha Durga day for the Devi Puja at 8am
On Wednesday Mother normally wears green colors for Ganesh.
The Aspect of the day is Goddess Shailputri Who Is The Daughter of the Himalayas. The word Shail in Sanskrit means Mountain, and Putri means daughter. Thus, Shailputri means Daughter of the Mountains. Goddess Durga is known by this name because she has incarnated from Himalayas – the Emperor of Mountains. Goddess Shailputri Embodies The Powers Of Lord Brahma, Vishnu And Shiva. Maa Shailputri is mounted on a bullock, has a lance in her right hand, and holds a lotus flower in the left hand. She is worshipped on the first day of Navratri. In her previous birth, Goddess Shailputri was the daughter of Daksha Prajapati. She was named Sati and was highly devoted to Lord Shiva since her childhood. Later on, she was married to Lord Shiva. Maa Shailputri has many divine powers.
Sponsor Day 1 Navratri Fire Ceremony
Sponsor Day 1 Navratri Devi Puja
Day Two - Thursday, March 26
It is a Maha Durga day for the Devi Puja at 8am
On Thursday Mother normally wears golden colors for the Guru.
The Aspect of the day is Goddess Brahmacharini, the Goddess of Penance and Good Conduct. This form of Mother Durga originated from the word Brahma, which means – one who observes penance or tapa, and good conduct. Thus, she is the one who practices tapasya. Maa Brahmacharini is very gorgeous. In one hand, she holds a Kamandal i.e. a water pot, and in the other hand, she holds a rosary. Maa Brahmacharini personifies love and loyalty. She is the storehouse of knowledge and wisdom. The Rudraksha beads are the most adored ornaments of this goddess. In her previous birth, Maa Brahmacharini had incarnated as the daughter of Himalaya. At that time, she was influenced by the instructions of Narada and also practiced hard penance (tapa) in order to obtain Lord Shiva as her divine consort. Hence, due to her divine penance, she was named Brahmacharini.
Sponsor Day 2 Navratri Fire Ceremony
Sponsor Day 2 Navratri Devi Puja
Day Three - Friday, March 27
It is a Maha Durga day for the Devi Puja at 8am
On Friday Mother normally wears mixed colors or pink for the Mother.
The Aspect of the day is Goddess Chandraghanta who bestows immense peace and goodness. The name Chandraghanta originated from the words Chandra (Moon) and Ghanta (Bell). This is because the Goddess has a crescent Moon on her forehead, and a roaring voice like the tumultuous sound of a bell, which makes the demons tremble with fear. Maa Chandraghanta provides immense peace and lots of goodness. She looks very bright and charming, has a golden skin color, and possesses ten hands and three eyes. Eight of the hands of this goddess hold weapons, while the gestures of the remaining two hands indicate bestowing a boon and stopping harm. This Durga Shakti rides a tiger. With the blessings of Maa Chandraghanta, all sins of the worshipper get washed away, and all the obstacles also get cleared from his/her path. By worshipping Maa Chandraghanta, one can get rid of all the worldly sorrows and fears. The devotee also becomes brave, and they can spontaneously gain success in all the areas of life.
Sponsor Day 3 Navratri Fire Ceremony
Sponsor Day 3 Navratri Devi Puja
Day 4 - Saturday, March 28
It is a Maha Lakshi day for the Devi Puja at 8am
On Saturday Mother normally wears darker colors for Shani or Saturn.
The Aspect of the day is Maa Kushmanda. Her name, Kushmanda, means a little warm cosmic egg, which has originated from the following words. Ku means Little, and Ushm means Warmth, Heat or Energy, whereas Anda means the Cosmic Egg or Universe. Maa Kushmanda resides in the inner portion of the universe or Surya Loka, and she radiates a solar aura. It is believed that when only darkness prevailed all around, Goddess Kushmanda created the universe with her Sankalp i.e. resolving power. As per the religious scriptures, during the ancient times, Maa Shakti created this universe as an Anda which means cosmic egg, just by flashing a splendid smile. She is also known as Ashta Bhujadhari – the goddess with eight arms. Maa Kushmanda holds a kamandalu, bow, arrow, lotus, a jar of nectar, discus, and mace in her seven hands, respectively. Whereas, there is a rosary (japa mala) in the eighth hand, which is capable of bestowing the eight Siddhis. The lion is the vehicle of Goddess Kushmanda. Just by worshipping Maa Kushmanda, the devotee can get rid of all his/her ailments and sorrows. Moreover, he/she is blessed with a long life span, popularity, strength and good health.
Sponsor Day 4 Navratri Fire Ceremony
Sponsor Day 4 Navratri Devi Puja
Day 5 - Sunday, March 29
It is a Maha Lakshi day for the Devi Puja at 8am.
On Sunday Mother normally wears shining colors for the sun.
The Aspect of the day is Maa Skandamata because She is the mother of Skanda, the leader of the heavenly armies. She rides a lion and holds her son Skanda in her lap. Maa Skandamata has three eyes and four arms. She holds lotus flower in two hands, while the other two hands display defending and granting mudras, respectively. It is said that by pleasing Maa Skandmata, even a fool can become the master of knowledge.
Goddess Skandmata grants salvation to Her Unfailing Devotees and all their desires get fulfilled. It also opens the path of salvation for the devotee, and as She is the presiding deity of Sun God, Maa Skandamata bestows an extraordinary glow and radiance on her devotees.
Sponsor Day 5 Navratri Fire Ceremony
Sponsor Day 5 Navratri Devi Puja
Day 6 - Monday, March 30
It is a Maha Lakshi day for the Devi Puja at 8am
On Monday Mother normally wears white color for Shiva and the Moon.
The Aspect of the day is Goddess Katyayani. As per the traditional story, once upon a time, there was a sage named Kata. He had a son whose name was Katya. In his family, Katyayana became a sage and gained worldwide popularity. He practiced penance for many years to Maa Shakti and was given a boon. Sage Katyayana requested Mother Goddess Durga to take birth as his daughter. The goddess was very pleased and accepted his request. Later on, when the cruel acts of the demon Mahishasura crossed every limit, the trinity of Gods i.e. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva became very angry. And hence, they created a goddess by distributing some part of their great power, in order to destroy the demon. As sage Katyayana was the first person to worship this goddess, she was named Maa Katyayani. Then she killed the demon, Mahishasura. Maa Katyayani's form is highly divine and dazzling. She has a golden, bright and beaming complexion. Goddess Katyayani has four arms. Her upper right hand is in the pose of banishing all fears, and the lower arm is in the pose of granting a boon. She holds a sword in her upper left hand, and a lotus flower adorns her lower left hand. Maa Katyayani rides a lion. If the worshipper completely surrenders himself or herself to Mother Katyayani, he or she is showered with boons and Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha can be easily attained by the devotee if he/she worships Maa Katyayani with full faith and devotion.