We all know Navratri is a 9 day long festival that celebrates different manifestations of the Divine femininity. But, besides its spiritual significance, these auspicious 9 days also present us with an opportunity for personal development. How? Read on, to find out.
Let us begin with knowing a little more about Navratri. There are 4 Navratri in a year, 2 that we celebrate, are grouped as Pratyaksh (प्रत्यक्ष) Navratri, while the other 2 are called Gupt (गुप्त=secret) Navratri, Marked in blue in the figure below.

It, thus can be seen that the 4 Navratri occur at regular intervals of 3 months, dividing a year into 4 quarters. These 4 Navratri can be considered as ‘Check-points’. Here’s how these ‘check points’ present us an opportunity for personal development —

Making Resolutions

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We all make New-year resolutions every 1st January, most of which don’t last long, and only the most strongly followed ones survive for a month or two. Instead of feeling disheartened by the fate of these resolutions, how about giving ourselves more chances to make resolutions and then trying our best to follow them through? How about taking each Navratri as an opportunity for jotting down a list of new habits you might want to inculcate and the ones that you want to quit, of goals that you want to achieve and places you want to visit?

Its is interesting to note that the gupt Navratri of Paush/Magh falls around New year. So, New year resolutions are already in place. Right? Also, Vasant Navratri (Also known as Chaitri Navratri) that starts with the Hindu New year celebrations as Ugadi or Gudi Padwa, almost coincides with Financial New year. How about doing your taxes and taking care of your investments before this Navratri?

The 4 Navratri can be used as check points that are spread 3 months apart, to list Goals, weigh options, review progress, make necessary changes, device new strategies and put our priorities in order, thus improving our chances of Success.

Health

Most Hindus fast during the two Pratyaksh Navratri. Some fast for all 9 days, some just on the 1st and the last day and some don’t at all. There is no compulsion. Also, it should be noted that ‘fasting’ is NOT starving. In fact, fasting helps us to control and reform our eating habits and presents an excellent opportunity to detoxify our body. Fasting when coupled with Lemon therapy and Water Therapy, in addition to detoxification, can do wonders for those who wish to shed a few extra pounds. Also, since every Navratri occurs at the onset of a new season, fasting during this time can help one’s body to adjust to the seasonal changes.

In addition to its strictly physical effects, fasting can also serve as a powerful workout for one’s will power. Resisting body’s cravings for food and taste, conditions mind’s control over body. Aren’t most of the disorders that our generation faces, an outcome of unrestrained gratification of the senses?

Another advantage that I found, from personal experience, is that when while fasting one takes simple meals consisting of fruits and dairy products, enough for a healthy body, it leaves one with extra time for other things. It may not seem much while you read about it, but I’m sure those with experience will agree.

Let us try and begin to see beyond the usual portrayal of India’s rich cultural heritage and find the hidden wisdom of our forefathers in our customs, traditions and rituals.

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