NAVARATRI STARTS TODAY
The Devi Puja, or Celebration of the Divine Mother will take place at Chicago's Sivananda Vendanta Center over nine nights and one day, starting Saturday, September 19.
From their newsletter:
"The festival of Navaratri presents a great opportunity for spiritual uplift and renewal for all. We will celebrate with a series of nine "pujas", or ritual worship, each held in the evening on nine consecutive days. Through each puja we will honor a particular aspect of the Divine in the form of the Mother. The festival ends with a final puja in the morning of Vijayadasami, the "Day of Victory". Please see the words of Swami Sivananda below for a fuller description of the festival and its significance. A link to a detailed article by Swami Sivananda at the website of the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh is included at the end of this email.
"All are welcome to attend the pujas, at no charge. Donations to help cover costs, and donations of flowers or "prasad", offerings of sweets or fruit, are welcome. Help in preparation of the pujas is also welcome, please call if you can offer a little of your time or if you have any questions."
The puja schedule will be as follows:
Saturday, September 19th: 8pm (Durga)
Sunday, September 20th: 6:15pm (Durga)
Monday, September 21st: 9pm (Durga)
Tuesday, September 22nd: 9pm (Lakshmi)
Wednesday, September 23rd: 7:15pm (Lakshmi)
Thursday, September 24th: 9pm (Lakshmi)
Friday, September 25th: 9pm (Saraswati)
Saturday, September 26th: 8pm (Saraswati)
Sunday, September 27th: 6:15pm (Saraswati)
Monday, September 28th: 6am (Vijayadasami, Day of Victory)
Spirutual Significance of Navaratri
by Swami Sivananda
"During Navaratri, or the Nine Nights, the Divine in the form of the Mother is worshipped with great devotion. On the first three nights, Durga or the destructive aspect of the Mother is worshipped. On the succeeding three nights, it is the creative aspect or Lakshmi that is adored. And on the last three nights, the knowledge aspect or Saraswati is invoked. The tenth day is the Vijaya Dasami day or the Day of Victory.
"There is a special significance in this arrangement. When the Devi is worshipped by a devotee in this order, as Durga She first destroys the evil propensities that lurk in the mind. Then, as Lakshmi, She implants therein the divine qualities conducive to spiritual unfoldment. Then as Saraswati She bestows true knowledge on the aspirant.
"The tenth day commemorates the victory of knowledge over ignorance, or goodness over evil. Aspirants are initiated on this day. On this day the carpenter, the tailor, the mason, the artist, the songster, the typist and all technical workers do puja for their instruments and implements. This is Ayudha Puja. They behold and recognise the Sakti or Power behind those instruments and worship the Devi for their success, prosperity and peace."
Read more here.