Music of the Navratri Festival, Shri Gaayatri Mandir
Worshipers at Gaayatri Mandir celebrate Noratri two times each year, at the start of summer and at the beginning of winter. The word Noratri means "nine nights" and is a celebration focusing upon nine forms, or aspects, of the Divine Mother. Spread out over the course of nine nights and ten days, the Noratri festival features a special evening service during which a pandit performs pujas in honor of the feminine aspects of the Divine.
At the main Noratri service at Gaayatri Mandir, devotees participate in ceremonial rituals that honor the deities as guests in the home or temple. Each deity first receives a welcome with pradnas, an offer to sit, washing or bathing of the feet, and gifts of garments (yellow for Durgamaa, pink for Lakshmi, and yellow or white for Saraswati). Throughout the service, devotees engage in musical offerings in the form of scriptural chanting and bhajan singing while presenting additional offerings to the deities such as rice, cloves, camphor, attar, flowers, money, and prasara.
The Noratri festival as a whole celebrates and encourages positive spiritual transformation within individuals, the community, and the world. The first three nights of Noratri, dedicated to Durgamaa, focus upon the destruction of baser qualities and the elimination of impurities. During the next three nights, associated with Lakshmi, devotees aim to cultivate pure divine spiritual qualities as well as to develop these attributes and to further raise them to prominence. The final three days, belonging to Saraswati, allow worshipers to receive the light of supreme wisdom and of divine knowledge. Finally, on the tenth day, devotees end their previous fasting and celebrate liberation on the earthly plain.
The above information comes from the observations and reflections of students and devotees about the Noratri festival as well as in large part from an interview with Pandita Lynetteji, to whom this project owes many thanks.
Noratri Video Clips
View Noratri Video Clip #1
View Noratri Video Clip #2
View Noratri Video Clip #3
View Noratri Video Clip #4
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The following excerpts are statements made by Divan Singh in an interview that took place December 1, 2007 at Gaaytri Mandir.
Explanation of Noratri Festiva
[Noratri] which falls twice a year . . . that's the nine nights. [T]he first three nights we say prayers to Durgamaa, the second to Lakshmi, and the third to Saraswati this last three nights. But if you look at the inner aspect of this, when you offer prayer to Durgamaa, [it] is really that you can dedicate yourself for this nine nights, and you ask [that] she eradicates, she removes, evil tendencies within yourself, apart from talking about outer tendencies. Mainly if you ask for removing that inner tendency, you eventually see differently than before. So the first three nights we ask for that, and then you move, and whenever evil tendencies [are] removed, what happens? That veil [is] removed from your eyes, and imagine: you see light, and there you get into Saraswatimaa. So when one has that kind of light, which can be termed as a wealth--they say Lakshmimaa, the mother of wealth--but it does not mean from there anybody here will have to focus on financial wealth. But if one could have a clear vision, kind of just standing where you are in that light, and have that kind of vision, that kind of knowledge, what happens next? Saraswatimaa [is the] last that you worship because knowledge gets into place. The very first evil tendency moves. There is a clear vision. Now when you have clear understanding, you need knowledge and there pray to Saraswatimaa. And there you have many different [types of] knowledge: of playing instruments, of speaking properly, of singing, of retaining all the scriptures, and so many things can be achieved in Saraswatimaa.
Different Aspects of the Mother Deity
Durga, Laskshmi, Saraswati . . . looking at that, that is nine in one . . . but [we] do divide in three. Noratri is nine nights. So it's really [that] Durga comes in nine different forms. To make it simpler, looking at the administration of a country, you have the president . . . [and] all the ministers, but all head into one direction. But this one [is] responsible for finance. This one [is] responsible for education, the minister of education. Right? This one belongs to human resources. So similarly, we can look into the Noratri that [it is] not really nine different forms--some people say nine sisters . . . call it all sorts of names, which they may be not wrong. They appreciate it that way, but I see it in this [way]: it is one [in] nine different aspects.