Light rain showers before an auspicious event are considered celestial blessings.

The Nav Durga Sadhana at the sacred and serene sadhana sthala, Sri Badrika Ashram, began with a light drizzle, a divine prelude to the Sharadiya Navratri celebrations.

The format of the event was new – planned and executed meticulously by the ashram team. Setting the tone softly and gently, Sadhvi Nishtha took all those present on a visual cosmic journey with extended meditations on Mother Divine streamed virtually from the Sadhana app.

The power of collective devotion and invocation filled the hearts of all present with the fragrance of Ma’s love and blessings forging an instant and very intimate connection to Swamiji and Sri Hari.

On day 1, the divine presence of the gentle and graceful Ma Shailputri made its way into everyone’s heart. Seated on the magnificent celestial bull, Nandi, holding a golden trident and a tender pink lotus, embodying both ferociousness and utmost softness She enthralled the devotees who embarked on a visual journey to the snow-clad peaks of the Himalayas. The session concluded with Swamiji’s voice, chanting day one’s three powerful mantras, which felt like a profound initiation into the first day’s sadhana

Devotees basked in the bliss of Divine Mother’s presence after the morning meditation and waited with happy anticipation for the upcoming book reading session.

Sadhvi Nishtha meticulously selected the most aweinspiring tales, steeped in devotion from the Shrimad Devi Bhagawat Mahapurana.

The first day’s narrative unfolded with narration of the tale of Bhagwan Hayagreeva.

‘Once Lord Narayana’s head was cut off by the string of his own bow while he was immersed in yogic sleep. The despairing devatas appealed to the Supreme Goddess who comforted them and guided them to attach the head of a horse to the torso of Lord Narayana. Thus revived by the grace of the Mother Goddess, Bhagwan vanquished the demon who was also named Hayagreeva.’

The stage was all set for a journey into the heart of Ma’s devotional world!

At 11 a.m. daily, in the cosy temple setting, Sadhviji unwrapped tales like these from the ancient text. Devotees immersed themselves in stories of Ma’s various aspects: Her appearance, the esoteric meanings behind Her attributes and how to focus on the divine connection with each form, and invoke the energy within our own consciousness.

It felt reminiscent of ancient times, where eager listeners gathered around wise sages, immersing themselves in the devotional ecstasy of the scripture. The lesser footfall due to Swamiji’s absence turned out to be an unexpected and a special boon to all those who were blessed to be a part of this event.

The atmosphere was special and almost familial. It allowed the devotees to feel and experience the divinity of Sri Hari up close and personal. Nobody was a stranger. All were just Her children, a family.

Ma beckoned us back to the temple at 4.30 p.m. for a powerful abhishekam performed to the mystical and hypnotic chants of Sri Lalita Saharanama. Devotees watched as milk, yoghurt, honey and water cascaded down the intricately sculpted black form of Sri Hari. While adorning the majestic form of Sri Hari, Raghu Swamiji left the doors of the garbha griha open postabhishekam, which was a visual feast for those witnessing the Lord’s shringar [adornment] for the first time.

Later in the evening, the captivating and rhythmic beats of the dholak and manjira beckoned devotees back to the temple. Agam and Gandhali, both trained vocalists, called out to Ma in their soothing voices, singing Her glories. Following this, Raghu Swamiji and Prabhu Swamiji blew the conch bringing everyone together in reverence for Bhagwan’s evening aarti, after which devotees clad in shades of red, immersed themselves in the chants of the day’s mantra in the enveloping evening serenity of the ashram.

Every morning in the wee hours, with just a hint of chill, everyone gathered on the roof of the new block where the yagya kundas had been arranged to perform fire offerings.

The holy vibration of the sacred mantras in the auspicious Brahmamuhurta along with the fragrance of samidha [wood], ghee, camphor and charu, created a most uplifting, calm, and cleansing atmosphere. As the sacred fire burnt our afflictions, banished our darkness and purified our minds, it left us with gratitude and devotion for the Mother who loves us unconditionally.

Despite Swamij’s absence, his unmistakable presence was palpable through the Sadhana App.

After the yagya, devotees meditated and chanted in the temple’s deep and powerful silence until the morning aarti and meditation session.

On day 2, Devi Brahmcharini’s visualisation showcased her holding a kamandalu and japa mala, symbolising austerity and penance. Day 3 focused on Devi Chandraghanta, armed with fierce weapons in eight of Her 10 arms and the other two raised in mudras of blessings and protection.

Day 4 saw the devotees meditating on the effulgent form of Ma Kushmanda, the primordial mother, who created the entire universe with just her radiantly loving smile. Day 5, belonged to Ma Skandmata whose form was pictured carrying no weapons, epitomising Her loving and caring aspect where she holds baby Skanda in Her lap.

Emotions ran high on day 6 as devotees venerated Devi Katyayani, vanquisher of the fierce demon Mahishasura. On a sudden wave of inspiration Sadhvi Nishtha suggested that everyone write down whatever was bothering them the most and offer it at Ma’s feet, seeking Her help, grace and blessings to overcome it. This actually came as a big powerful surprise to many who did the exercise, as we found ourselves feeling lighter and unburdened in many ways. Ma’s grace had found us almost effortlessly with simple effort.

The fearsome and formidable form of Divine Mother, Devi Kalratri, was worshipped on day 7 and day 8 was dedicated to the benign and gentler aspects of the Mother Goddess with Devi Maha Gauri personifying the dazzling light of pure knowledge.

On day 9, while worshipping Ma Siddhidatri, who bestows the pinnacle of spiritual attainment on Her devotees, Sadhviji guided everyone in a most beautiful visualisation exercise on all nine forms of Ma asking us to focus on the one form that resonated most with us and offer our love and devotion at Her feet. This was the form that we were pulled to the most, the One who chose to reveal Herself to us, the One form whose energy we needed the most at the time. Sadhviji guided us to trust the process and not judge or be surprised by who appeared in front of us. It was a powerful and visceral experience of Ma’s energy in our own consciousness as She most lovingly bestowed Her grace on all present.

Drenched in sweet devotion, sadhaks devoted their entire days to Divine Mother.

From the morning yagyas to visualisations, reading Her glories from the scriptures, chanting Her powerful vedic and tantric mantras, evening abhishekam, and soulful bhajans and rousing kirtans, each moment was Ma-centric. In the high-octane 9-day celebration at Sri Badrika Ashram, there was no time for anything but Ma. Join us in 2024 Navratri for a grace-filled experience. As a perfect finale, rain blessed the morning yagya on the ninth day.

Narayani Namostute!