There are 6 Navarathris in Honour of Divine Mother of our Universe - one for each Rithu (season), and this navarathri falling in the sharad rithu is the most important one as it is the one recommended for householders.
Navarathri schedule for different parts of the world.
Navaraathri austerities begin from September 25, 2014 for all places in the earth except for those living in U.S.A., Canada, and other countries of the American continents. Those living in U.S.A., Canada, and other countries of the American continents should begin the Navarathri austerities from September 24, 2014 itself.
Durga pooja is to be observed on October 2, 2014 throughout the world except those living in U.S.A., Canada, and other countries of the American continent. Those living in U.S.A., and other countries of American continents (both North and South America), should observe this on October 1, 2014 itself.
Mahaa Navami (Saraswathy Pooja, Ayudha pooja) should be celebrated on October 3, 2014 throughout the world - except in U.S.A., Canada, and other places in the American continent who must observe this on October 2, 2014 itself.
Vijaya Dasami should be observed on October 3, 2014 in all countries to the West of India and in India. It should be observed on October 4, 2014 in all countries to the east of India.
Methods of celebrating Navaraathri.
It is traditional to keep "Kolu" - an arrangement of dolls during Navaraathri. This is to signify that Our Divine Mother resides as Inner Soul in all Forms. Some people make the arrangement in such a way that the various steps of the kolu represent the Order of Evolution - like keeping invertebrates and such other forms of lives in the bottom step, keeping dolls representing human life in the middle of the kolu steps, and keeping dolls representing Divine Legends, Dasa Avataars, etc. on the top most step of the kolu arrangement. It is traditional to keep 5 rows (to represent Five Elements of Life), 9 rows (to represent the Nine Forms of Divine Mother), 11 rows (to represent the 11 forms of Lord Rudra), 13 rows (one in Honour of each chapter of Durga Sapta Sati), or 15 Rows (one in Honour of each syllable of Shri Vidhya panchadasaakshari mantra) as per one's convenience; traditionally, people avoid arranging the kolu in 7 rows for sentimental reasons (there is a belief that such an arrangement in 7 rows might affect financial prospects).
I request all our members to perform simple worships as per their convenience during the Navarathri period and become recipients of Divine Grace. This is a period when we Celebrate our Universal Mother - so, that joy should be there in our minds when we observe this austerity (we should not be unnecessarily tensed or make this too complicated with too many taboos! One does not think of protocols when approaching one's mother - but just go with the moment with unbounded joy and affection; such should be our attitude when we worship Our Universal Mother during this period - assuming we are all Her Children and we are invoking Her Presence in our homes - celebrating this with affectionate respect and joy).
Recital of Lalitha Sahasranaamam, Dasa Mahaa vidhya sthothrams, simple Devi sthothrams, Abhiraami Andhaadhi, Lalitha Anubooti, Soundarya Lahiri, Dugra Sthothram, Chandi Path (Durga Saptasathi), etc. can be auspicious during this period.
During this period, we should consider all women as Forms of Divine Mother and treat them with courtesy and respect. One who observes the Navarathri austerities intensely, but insults women knowingly/ unknowingly does not get the benefit of the austerities. Remember this, and treat women (including those in your own family) with affection and respect [Ideally that should be the case always! Because Shastras say that where virtuous women are honoured, Divine Grace visits even in an uninvited manner! This is the reason why women should take special care to safeguard their basic dignity, be affectionate and gentle in dealings with family members, avoid letting corrupting thoughts/ behaviour patterns enter their life styles, etc. in an attempt to maintain their Divine nature that is intrinsic to them; All higher forms of lives spring from the feminine gender of the species, and a virtuous woman is a living Form of the Universal Mother - and can be a source of happiness and Grace to herself and to everyone who is blessed enough to move with her).
Those who have Tulsi plant in their houses, can offer prostrations to that Divine Plant and pray for prosperity and Divine Grace in its vicinity. (All the Holy Rivers are in subtle forms in the roots of the tulsi plant; All Divine Forms are manifest in the middle portion of the Tulsi plant, and All Vedas and Holy Scriptures are manifest in the tips of the Tulsi plant, as said in the Puranas).
Offering Go-Poojaa (prayers to Cow visualized as embodiment of all Divinities) on Fridays and Tuesdays of Navarathri period can give unlimited merit.
It is also auspicious to read a small portion of Divine Legends that depict how the Gracious and Kind Mother Manifested in Angry Forms to annihilate all enemies to peaceful life on Earth every night during this navaraathri period, and invoke such Manifestation of Power in our lives also to annihilate all our enemies (both intrinsic like anger, greed, laziness, and ignorance within us, and our external enemies/ unruly elements who try to disturb peaceful and gentle citizens in the society unnecessarily).
Recital of Chandi Paaraayanam is a powerful remedy not merely for our families but for ensuring peace in the land where we live in. In fact, if austere persons of Faith keep reciting the Chandi Path and Shri Rudram regularly, and if there are many of them in a land, shastras proclaim that the elements of nature's Fury like floods, pestilence, droughts, etc. will never harm that land and prosperity will rein in that land. So, it is partly our duty as Universal Citizens to offer special worship to Divine Mother during this period and pray for relief to all the distressed souls who have been harassed much by the floods in Northern parts of our blessed land, and also pray for peace throughout the world in these troublesome days where you can never read a newspaper without coming across some inauspicious event/ mishap in one corner or other of the earth.
SPECIAL WORSHIPS AT MY PLACE DURING NAVARATHRI.
As usual special worships will be done in this regard at my place - BUT WITH A CHANGE....since a baby is expected in my family any time during first week of October 2014, I have decided to end the homams on the Upaanga Lalitha Vratam day - on 29th September 2014 itself - scheduling the Mahaa chandi homam on September 29, 2014 on Upaanga Lalitha Vratam day instead of the Vijaya Dasami day which is the day when I offer the Mahaa chandi homam every year. After the Upaanga Lalitha Vratam day, I will continue the austerities - but without homams till the news of the baby's birth is received. (This is to avoid possible ritual impurity in the process; if I schedule the austerities till Vijaya Dasami and take sankalpam to that effect, and the child is born before Vijaya Dasami it could be tricky....If the birth is unexpected, we are covered by Dharma shastraic dictum that says that a person in deeksha sankalpam is free from any ritual impurity on account of birth/ death till the period is over; BUT, when we know that medically something is possible during the period, we can't take umbrage under that emergency doctrine!)
I think it is Divine Play in my life - I have been blessed to perform the Chandi homams every year without any break for the past many years, and this year too, the baby was expected only around mid-October, and was thinking that I can observe the Navarathri austerities unhindered by the tides of samsaaraa.....But suddenly obstetrician is of the opinion (as also corroborated by the opinion of other elder ladies in the family and the neighbourhood) - that the child may be born earlier than expected, and given that clue, I don't want to risk scheduling the Mahaa chandi homam at a time which may clash with the birth of the baby in the family. Let us see how things happen ultimately....But, luckily I could get the opinion of a senior yogi who pointed out at the alternate way of doing it in 5 days concluding with the Upaanga Lalitha Vratam, and I am following that guidance and scheduling the performance as a 5-day observance as against the usual 10-day deeksha.
Regular readers of the blog and persons who used to avail Chandi homams/ part-sponsorship of the austerities in the previous years may avail the same for the 5 days of Navarathri this year instead of for the entire period of 9 days due to reason stated above. I leave the matter to your individual discretion whether you wish to be a part of my austerities as usual, OR, you wish to avail the performance elsewhere....
The part-sponsorship of each day's austerities (beginning from early morning till night.....Ganapathy homam, Laghu chandi homam, Full recital of Devi Mahaatmyam, Lalitha Sahasranaamam, Soundarya Lahiri sthothras, Dasa Mahaa Vidhya japams, Select verses from Devi Bhagavatam, etc.) is Rs.4800 (rupees four thousand eight hundred only) for one day's part-sponsorship. Those who wish to be part-sponsors for more than one day's rituals are also welcome to do so (You can avail it for maximum of 4 days - till the day before Upaanga Lalitha Vratam this time).
Mahaa chandi homam is planned on September 29, 2014 on Upaanga Lalitha Vratam day. The part-sponsorship for this Mahaa chandi homam on September 29, 2014 is Rs.24000 (rupees twenty four thousand) - all costs inclusive - including cost of gold coin, silver coin, silk saree, rare herbs, and other pooja articles to be offered in the Mahaa Poornaahuti.
If you wish to be a sponsor for the entire period of 5 days, the suggested sponsorship offering is Rs.44000 (rupees forty four thousand only).
After the Mahaa chandi homam is concluded on September 29, 2014, I will continue the austerities till the new of the baby's birth is received.....and I will include the sponsors of the earlier days' austerities in the sankalpam on such days on a honorary basis. In fact, I am planning a Shakti Chakra Vyuha Pravesha austerity in one of the days after September 29, 2014 - if Divine Mother permits that. I will erect a prashna chart after September 29, 2014 to decide on the modalities of that, and in such a sadhana, I will pray for the welfare of everyone in general and my disciples/ people who have supported my austerities in particular.
Even those who are unable to offer sponsorships for these rituals need not feel let down; prayers are offered for Universal Welfare at the end of each day's austerities, in addition to the prayer for specific special sponsors, and the prayer for Universal Welfare covers everyone - including you!
May Divine Mother Bless us all.
Pandit R. DAKSHINAMOORTHI