Generally Hindus have an intuitive relationship with the Divine and visiting places of worship, pilgrimages, regular fasts, rituals and seeking blessings of saints and sages has enhanced their spiritual life. Generally Hindu religion is sustained through the medium of rituals and one such observance is called Nava-Ratri that is held during the period of Puratassi which corresponds to the English months of September /October. The principal objective of Nava-Ratri (nine nights) is to propitiate the Goddess that symbolise every form of energy that prevails in the universe and to seek blessings thereof.
As nature builds everything by forms and numbers one legend has it that the duration of nine nights is based on a scientific principle. The digit nine contains within it all the other numbers of one digit but is contained in none of them. For instance the digit three is contained in nine but nine is not contained in three. So the rationale is that Mother Devi contains within her the whole universe and no form with limitation can contain Her who is infinite.
Nava-Ratri is observed to propitiate the Goddesses that symbolise every form of energy for human sustenance. According to Hindu legends this observance is the longest in the Hindu almanac and the most suitable to engage in sadhana (path of spiritual discipline). Nine days are considered auspicious for this purpose and dedicated to Mother Durga/Kali, Mother Luxmi and Mother Sarasvathie. The first three days Mother Kali the consort of Lord Shiva is being invoked to eliminate human desires (vasanas). Once these vasanas are cleared the next three days are to develop a sublime spiritual personality. This stage is identified as Mother Luxmi whose consort is Lord Vishnu. The final three days is when one is ready to receive divine knowledge of Mother Sarasvathie. Being the consort of Lord Brahma Mother Sarasvathie is observed with a culmination of festivities.
The day following Saraswathie Pooja is called Vijaya-Dasami where it is believed that it signals the beginning for a successful occult practice. Such occult practice was identified in the Mahabharata Wars where the Pandavas who concealed their weapons in a vanni tree that enabled them to pursue a life of incognito.
During this period of Nava-Ratri the President and his cabinet wish all Hindus peace and happiness and may all your undertakings be filled with compassion and goodness.
Dr Dorie Moodley
South African Hindu Maha Sabha