General Guidelines for Navaratri Sadhana
Time of Day
The most auspicious time of day for performing sadhana is known as “brahmi muhurta,” which occurs from 3:30 to 4:30 AM. If it is not possible to do sadhana at this time, any time before 9 AM is also very good. The evening time starting at dusk is also excellent for practices. However, any time of the day becomes golden and auspicious when we worship Divine Mother, so there’s no need to worry excessively about timing.
It is very important to take a complete bath and wash the hair before commencing any sadhana. Clean clothes in natural fibers, like cotton or silk, can be worn. One beautiful tradition is to wear clothes in bright, auspicious colors during Navaratri. Colors that are considered especially sacred to Divine Mother include golden yellow, bright red, emerald green, turquoise blue, and white. Wearing these colors is a form of color therapy, and helps us to absorb certain aspects of Divine Mother’s energy.
Silence and Diet
If possible, it is very, very auspicious to maintain silence during Navaratri. Even if silence cannot be maintained for the entire nine days, at least try to maintain silence for an hour or two in the early morning or evening. This will enhance one’s energy and increase longevity. Try to eat sattvic vegetarian food, like rice, dal (lentils), fruits, nuts, vegetables, and organic dairy products. This will help the devotee to stay in a peaceful, positive frame of mind.
If possible, it is very auspicious to offer light to Divine Mother during Navaratri. Ghee lamps are ideal, as these help to purify the atmosphere and increase sattvic vibrations. Offering light to Divine Mother increases auspiciousness and inner light. A ghee lamp can be placed on one’s shrine during worship or meditation. If anyone is not comfortable offering the lamps, just offer light mentally to Devi. By offering light, we are requesting inner radiance and the light of wisdom from Divine Mother.
It is also very good to offer sattvic food items, like fruits, nuts, or sugar candy. For those who are accustomed to offering cooked items, rice pudding made with milk and ghee is a wonderful offering. Any food offered to Devi becomes charged with radiant spiritual vibrations, and whoever eats that prasadam will be tremendously blessed. By offering food, we are giving thanks to Mother Earth as well as asking Mother to provide food to all of Her children. When offering food, make sure to use food containers that are not eaten from directly. Whoever distributes the prasadam should use the right hand to offer it to devotees, and devotees should make sure to receive the prasadam only with the right hand.
At the conclusion of one’s practices, it is very good to perform arati using 1, 3, 5 or 9 wicks. Any Devi slokas, mantras or stotras can be sung during the arati. Sri Mahishasura Mardini Stotram is especially auspicious during arati, and is sung during every evening arati in Amma’s Ashrams.