Navratras are celebrated to worship different avatars and forms of Goddess Durga. To please Goddess Durga, a 9 day fast period is observed. During Navratri puja, the Durga Sapshati puja and havan with proper procedures and rituals is conducted where each family member gives ahuti and takes blessings from Durga mata. The last 3 days of Navratre are dedicated to Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of education, art and creativity). The Saraswati puja vidhi and processes need to be properly understood and applied.
- After getting ready and cleaning the puja room, sit facing towards east direction.
- Place a white cloth one platform and place the idol of Ma Sarawsati on it. Decorate the idol with turmeric, kumkum, rice, garlands and flowers. Books and musical instruments can also be placed near the deity.
- Place a green coconut on an earthen pot with a red coloured cotton cloth. Light the diya and remember lord Ganesha first and pray for the successful completion of the puja.
- Chant the following mantra and remain in meditation for a while.
||Yaa kundendu tushaaradhawala, yaa shubhra vastravrutha
Yaa veena varadanda manditakara yaa shweta padmasanaa
Yaa brahmachyuta shankara prabhrutibhi devai sadaa vandita,
Saa maam pathu saraswati bhagavati nishshesha,jadyapaha.
Aum saraswathyae namah, dhyanartham, pushpam samarpayami||
- Then offer the prasadam that you have made on the banana or betel leaf. Keep elaichi and lavanga on it.
- Perform the arti with camphor and diya and ring the bell or conch simultaneously.
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Many of us believe in the philosophy of quitting their favourite edible or avoiding materialistic luxuries to please the God and receiving blessings in return for fulfilment of the desired wish. This concept is prevalent during the seven or eight days of fasting of Navratras. Yet if you are not one of those who can fast, still you have to abide by the rituals of food pattern in the house.
Remember- Strict NO to Non-Vegetarian food!
All of us are aware about the prohibition of non-veg food items and even onion and garlic during Navratri festival; so let’s explore the cause behind it.
*NAVRATRI occurs during the two major changes of season i.e. fall into winters and then winters into spring. This period has the highest probability of affecting our immune system; and such changes in the nature and environment around us also brings alterations within us. Thus it is better to go for easily digestible edibles which are healthy and nourishing and also activates the positivity within you.*
Other reasons for avoiding non-veg:
- Non vegetarian food is high in Tamasic content that consumes a much longer time for digestion and creates an aura of irritation and negativity.
- The animals are slaughtered inhumanely which leads to a cover of pain and distressing energy around the meat; which keep on growing as we consume them.
- Certain issues like respiratory diseases, heart diseases, indigestion and even cancer can be caused due to excess of proteins.
- The Sattva-guna begins to decline within one, over powered by the violent and ferocious
- Lack of positivity disturbs the spiritual experience of an individual and he deviates from his motive of life.
Though all these points mentioned above will compel you to think about it at least once, but there is no law against it and it is not a sin to eat meat. Yet those of us who prefer Sattvik over Rajasic or Tamasic are able to reach the spiritual destination, much quicker and easily.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja
The magical uncertainty of life is maintained from the beginning till the end; where we act as a protagonist in the play called ‘Life’, directed by ‘Supreme Master’. What to do or not to do or what will be the outcome of any action performed by one is an all-time question revolving in our mind. Imagine if at this situation of turmoil somebody tells us that we have the key to your closed door of confusion then he is no less than an angel for us.
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What is Prashna Kundli?
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The varied perspectives about gemstones and their relevance are quite intricate as more than rational justification, the personal testing is considered appropriate. Highlighting the craze of gemstones we head back to the great hall in which beautiful empress Cleopatra had received the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar, which was decorated with furniture studded with rare gems and Jewels. Even in recent history, the Peacock throne of the Moghuls was studded with jewels of all kind and had attracted many invaders. So be it any era throughout the world, the magical effects of gems have been witnessed.
Being of different colours and lustre, the gemstones work on the concept of colour therapy. The seven colours of VIBGYOR along with the infrared and ultra violet invisible colours, affects the human system differently. It is important to note that the wavelength of coloured light emanating from the nine planets is believed to match those radiating from each planet’s corresponding gemstone. A particular stone absorbs all kind of solar and cosmic energy and allows only a particular type of energy to pass through it; which is then absorbed by the body. If prescribed properly, this actually helps the individual in restoring the body balance and attaining self-improvement.
Other relevance of Gemstones:
The glittering gemstones are considered the secret to happiness, fortune, health and monetary bliss in life. As the ancient Gemological texts of India explain that white light is actually composed of nine colours, symbolic of the nine planets, so the particular planets radiate their energy and influence through colours. Depending upon the position of the moon sign in a particular sign of the Zodiac at the time of birth, a particular gem is allotted. Now theses gemstones are not a sure shot success mantra, if you think, but it adds on to the continuous effort of an individual and further helps to receive positive fruits. Stones have a capacity to remove the hurdles caused by faulty positioning of planets, which may halt the success in one’s life.
Gem and planetary impact:
Ruby – Red colour energy improves courage, self-confidence, blood circulation and vitality, reduces anaemia, liver and gallbladder complaints, bowel problems and skin and heart diseases. It strengthens will and purpose as the forces guiding one’s actions.
Emerald – Green colour energy is referred to encourage swiftness and freshness, as it is a nature colour that provides happiness, peace and reduces restlessness. Beneficial for wealth and property matters; and cures insomnia and depression.
Yellow Sapphire – Yellow colour energy stands for wisdom, ambition, science, and confidence; and it attracts fame, health and success to the wearer. It raises one’s vibration to the higher side of the nature and promotes actions born from a sense of duty and humanity.
Pearl – White colour energy denotes peace, simplicity, soft nature and friendship; deepens one’s emotional feeling and emotional healing. It aids in memory enhancement, cures uterine disorders, heart trouble and eye diseases, hysteria and pleurisy etc. It also increases sexual strength, removes melancholy and increases fortune.
Blue Sapphire – Blue sapphire brings mental peace and financial rewards to the afflicted person. It is the fastest working gemstone among the 9 planetary gemstones. It fortifies one’s acceptance of responsibility and one’s sense of duty. It simplifies life and encourages thrift and the reduction of the need for personal pleasure and satisfaction.
Diamond – It is said that the one who wears a diamond has a luxurious life. Diamond is supposed to enhance the name, fame and artistic quality of the person who wears it according to old beliefs. It improves stomach disorders, migraine, and cataract and helps in Soothing effect on the eyes, ears and the nervous system. It gives vitamin K. Controls pituitary glands.
Cat’s Eye- This gemstone protects its wearer from hidden enemies, sudden dangers and diseases. It may enhance one’s psychic abilities, insights, mysticism and perception of the paranormal. It may inspire one to adopt a simpler lifestyle and gravitate more toward asceticism and austerity.
The faith on this unique art may vary but if you truly believe in it, and adopt a particular prescribed gemstone, then they surely work in your favour.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja
Have you ever imagined that a symbol can rage the anger of a specific community or individuals from a particular territory? Can a symbol be associated with the pride of one and the disgust of the other?
It’s a mystery in itself that how a simple symbol can be connoted differently by various individuals and divide the entire humanity into pieces. ‘Swatika’ is one such symbol that holds various beliefs for varied individuals.
True meaning of Swastika:
Literally, Swastika means ‘of good fortune’ – ‘Su‘ means ‘well’ and ‘asti‘ means ‘being’. It marks the beginning of peace, fortune and happiness in one’s life.
- Spreading its arms in four directions, the solar symbol defines the power of Sun or Lord Vishnu.
- The four armed wheel defines the altering nature of the Universe with a fixed and stable centre as God.
- It explains the four eras i.e. Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dwapara-yuga and Kali-yuga.
- It represents the four varnas i.e. Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras.
- It defines the four basic aims of human pursuit – dharma (righteousness), artha (prosperity), kama (passion) and moksha (salvation).
- It describes the four Vedas – Rig-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda, and Atharva-Veda and the four faces and four hands of Lord Brahma.
- It is also the emblem of Ganesha, the god of good luck.
- It represents the celestial change of the Sun to the tropic of Capricorn according to Hindu astronomy.
- It carries the spirit of enlightenment that defines the flow from humankind to a higher level of consciousness.
Negative connotation related with Swastika:
The above points highlight the positive side of the coin but we can never ignore the negative connotations and beliefs attached to this symbol. Till date the sentiments of the Jews are hurt and they associate the ‘Swastik’ with evil energies. As swastika was associated with ‘Aryan identity’, Adolf Hitler adopted the swastika as the emblem of ‘racial purity’ displayed on a red background. Even before that, during the post-World War I period, a number of far-right nationalist movements adopted the swastika.
In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler wrote: “I myself, meanwhile, after innumerable attempts, had laid down a final form; a flag with a red background, a white disk, and a black swastika in the middle.” The devastating holocaust in Germany and the negative association with the Nazi party invokes the strong emotions of the Jews and has acquired a negative connotation in the West.
Significance for other cultures:
Not only for Hindus, but the symbol of swastika is also evident on the chest, palms, soles of Buddha and it symbolised the footsteps of Lord Buddha. For Jainism, it represents the four possible places of rebirth i.e. the animal or plant world, hell, earth, or the spirit world. In China and Japan, the swastika has been used to represent abundance, prosperity and long life. The Greek goddess Athena was sometimes portrayed as wearing robes covered with swastikas. For the early Christians, the symbol represented Christ, calling it a disguised cross.
Though the culture and experiences may vary the definition of Swastika, yet it is hoped that the true significance of this auspicious symbol is realized by the world, ignoring the historical past.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja
Goddess Saraswati is the store house of knowledge and wisdom, and the lover of art and music. Lord Brahma, the divine consort of Goddess Saraswati, creates the beautiful Universe and Sarsawati ji completes the process by showering the knowledge required for comprehending the creation.
The pious and serene state of Goddess is depicted by her vahan i.e. swan. The pure white swan portrays the selfless realization of true knowledge and also the discrimination between the eternal and mortal. The Goddess is also accompanied with a peacock near her image that signifies the ignorant attitude and how one is tangled in the deceptive charm of beauty. By mounting on the peacock, Saraswati ji teaches that the external appearance is transitory and should not be given priority. It’s the divine inner soul that needs to be focused and revered.
Lord Vishnu: Serpent and Garuda
Lord Vishnu also known as Narayana is the maintainer who sustains the entire creation. Lord Vishnu is the strength to maintain goodness in the Universe and he is also the remover of darkness of illusion. The connection between Lord Vishnu and his ‘sesha naag’ is renowned where the Lord rests upon sesha’s form of snake. Sesha means ‘balance’, thus the Lord is laid upon him. Snake is a symbol of time, eternity and wisdom that shows the controller of time representing the absolute truth of life.
Garuda, the eagle god is also the Vahana of Lord Vishnu that is well known for its speed and mighty wings. At one instance, Garuda wanted a place even higher than Lord Vishnu but as he got acquainted of the powers of Lord Vishnu, he became his faithful devotee by surrendering himself as his vehicle. It symbolise the numerous flying thoughts of mortals and the way they are controlled by the Almighty.
Lord Shiva: Nandi bull
Lord Shiva is the embodiment of creating as well as destroying. He is worshipped for his supreme powers and signifies the union of duality with Goddess Shakti. The vehicle of lord Shiva, Nandi bull symbolise the brutal and aggressive attitude of humans. By mounting on the top of the bull, lord Shiva tames the evil energies and also controls the sexual impulses. Shiva controls the negative impulses by riding on its back and teaches the important lesson to mankind.
Goddess Durga: Lion
Goddess Durga, another form of Parvati ji is the ferocious depiction of powerful and warrior Goddess. She is the widely adored deity renowned for female energy or Shakti. Goddess Durga with three eyes and ten arms is mounted on the golden hairy lion that symbolise the removal of dark night through bright golden light. Defeating the demon Mahishasura, mounting on the lion represents the ferocious and wild nature of both the Goddess and her vehicle. The lion acts as the celestial vehicle and portrays the lordly powers of wild beast.
Lord Ganesha: Mouse
The one without whom every important work is incomplete and without whose grace our life is doomed is our own beloved Ganesha. The remover of all our obstacles, Ganesha is the store house of knowledge, wisdom and intelligence. Lord Ganesh is often seen riding the tiny moshika raj ‘mouse’ as his vehicle which is considered weak. Mouse is related with destructive traits that spoils the food and crops, especially. Here the mouse connotes the human mind that destroys the mental peace due to evil thoughts and energies, but by mounting on the devil energies, Lord Ganesha crushes them. The faithful devotion is depicted by bestowing a peaceful mind to the devotee and teaching us the power of goodness and faith.
Lord Brahma: Seven swans
Lord Brahma is the supreme deity known for creation of this Universe. He is upmost source of knowledge and his consort Goddess Saraswati is the Goddess of knowledge and wisdom. Brahma ji is known for the creation of Vedas that are the base of knowledge for this Universe. The four head and four armed God is the symbol of four vedas, four maha yugas and the fourfold social order. He is seen mounted on the chariot lead by seven swans as swan is the symbol of knowledge and discretionary powers. Swan is known for purity that teaches us to make right decisions in our life. Swan is also known for separating milk from the mixture of milk and water that reveals the characteristic trait of Lord Brahma to make fine distinction while creating the Universe.
Goddess Lakshmi: Owl
The Goddess of prosperity and wealth is the consort of Sri Mahavishnu and is highly revered by the Hindu devotees. She is the store house of wealth, good luck, fortune, beauty, charm and riches that defines her power of showering unlimited blessings. The vehicle of goddess Lakshmi, an owl or ‘uluka’ is often a negative connotation; therefore it is considered to be associated with Alakshmi (Goddess of inauspiciousness). It is believed that during the Samudra manthan, Lakshmi was born out of Amrit and Alakshmi emerged with Halahal. As owl is known for its nocturnal activity, it is associated with ill omen but for few the ability of owl to see only in darkness symbolise the capability of going from darkness to light i.e. materialism to spiritualism. The figure of owl with the Goddess is a reminder that the wealth and fortune are a trap and our inner conscious and wisdom keeps us away from the ‘adharmik’ use of that fortune.
Lord Indra: Airavata
The most powerful and excellent warrior, known as the King of Devas and also the God of War and Weather. The term Indra is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘Ind’ meaning to be powerful and the one who defeats his enemy. He is even renowned for his arrogant traits, yet he is the chief deity in Rig Veda. To maintain dharma in all three lokas and fight against evil powers, Lord Indra is the heroic protagonist. The four tusked, white elephant is the vahana of this deity, which is said to have emerged during Samudra manthan. The mighty elephant is renowned for protecting the gates of paradise as well as other miracles. It is said that Airavata gathered water from the large lakes of Udaygiri Mountains and showers it in the direction of lord Indra; thus holding the ability of giving rise to clouds or pouring rain. The pious and spotless white creature is a symbol of purity and is known to be created during the beginning of life by Lord Brahma.
Lord Vayu: Thousands of horse
The great personification of wind, Lord Vayu is known as the initial partaker of soma juice. He is a dear friend of lord Indra and given equal respect and weightage. He is as swift as mind and also called as the God of Thoughts. He is one of the major elements of the five elements of the Universe and is also described as ‘Satata-ga’ (ever moving), ‘Pavana’ (wind), and ‘Gandha-vaha’ (the perfume bearer). He is the guardian of North West direction and the father of Lord Hanuman and Bheema. Vayu devta is often shown riding forty nine or thousand horses that helps to cover long distances swiftly within few seconds. Horse is known for its swift and mighty powers and is often symbolised as notorious and fast mind that flies from one thought to another in just few seconds. By climbing upon these horses, Lord Vayu tames the swift thoughts and brings stability and calmness in our mind. The white coloured horses that cover all the three lokas of the world are a symbol of victory over our evil and negative thoughts.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja