14 Oct 2015

Navaratri 2015: Day 1 - Shailaputri

“Shailaputri represents the blessing of the Guru, 'sadhana-bhakti', as She is the One that gives the Shakti, the power to activate one's sadhana to start the inner journey. This blessing is very important because it destroys the pride and ego.” – Sri Swami Vishwananda

Devi Name: Shailaputri

The first night of Navaratri is dedicated to the Goddess Shailaputri. ‘Shaila’ is a name for the Himalaya Mountains, and ‘Putri’ means daughter, so She is the daughter of King Himavan, the Lord of the Mountains. In Her previous incarnation, She was Sati, the daughter of King Daksha who immolated Herself because of Her father’s disrespect for Lord Shiva, Sati’s husband.

Shailaputri sits mounted on an ox and holds a trident in Her right hand with a lotus flower in Her left. Often times She is referred to as the most powerful and most glorified of all the forms of Durga. Shailaputri is also the Goddess of the muladhara chakra, or base chakra.

Event Highlights:

The beginning of Navaratri started at the Kali temple, where devotees gathered to circumambulate Shree Peetha Nilaya. The front of the procession carried the different deities of Divine Mother, while the back marched on despite the downpour of rain. Upon entering the tent, the deities were installed in their proper place on the altar and all the people entered and bundled up with their blankets.

Sri Swami Vishwananda was already in the tent before the procession arrived, making arrangements for the ceremonies to come. Once everybody was seated and all the preparations were in order, Swamiji gave a short talk and led a guided meditation. His speech introduced the importance of Navaratri and emphasised that one should use these nine nights to feel the Divine Mother’s Love and be transported to the abode of Narayana. As Swamiji guided the meditation, everybody closed their eyes and fixed their awareness within their hearts. Swamiji explained that, before seeing Her (the Divine Mother) outside, we have to recognise Her inside.

The ceremonies themselves began with Guru Puja. It’s important to remember why we always do Guru Puja first, as it’s only through the grace of our Guru that we may obtain the grace of the Divine Mother and the Grace of God. After Guru Puja, the customary rituals were performed that included the Kalash of the Nine Goddesses, where we invoke each Goddess into a kalash, as well as Bhairava Puja. Bhairava Puja is essential to the worship of Maa because of the blessing of Vaishnava Devi to the demon Bhairava.

All in all, between the spirited bhajans from the music team, the chanting of the Devi Sahasranam, and the vibrant decorations that supported the celebration, the night ended with Sri Swami Vishwananda and devotees alike, dancing and jumping out of love for the Divine Mother. The first night of Navaratri was one that felt complete in every way, and makes one wonder how much more is still to come, as this was only the beginning…

For more impressions from the event, please check out our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SriSwamiVishwananda