In 2017, Navaraatthiri, along with Vijayathasami, is being celebrated for 11 days at
Sri Kandaswamy Temple, Kuala Lumpur
The term, Navaraatthiri means ‘nine nights’; hence the Navaraatthiri festival is normally observed for nine days, followed by ‘Vijayathasami’ on the tenth day. Nevertheless, this fast, inclusive of Vijayathasami, is observed for a period of nine or eleven days in certain years. Why this happens?
The important fact to noted, before going further, is ‘a day’ is not equivalent to ‘a thithi’. A ‘thithi’ can be generally said to be ‘a phase of the growing (waxing) or fading (waning) moon. One such phase of the moon is not always equivalent to ‘24 hours’. Apart from the ‘paurnami’ and ‘amaavaasai’ ‘thithis’, there are fourteen ‘thithis’. There called by the names, pirathamai. thuthiyai. thiruthiyai, sadhurtthi, panjami, sashti, sapthami, attami, navami. ehaathasi, thuvaathasi, thirayothasi and sadhurtthasi; during the period of Navaraatthiri, this year, the respective length of hours for these ‘thithis’ are: 23’ 39”,
24’ 11”, 24’ 43”, 25’ 11”, 25’ 35”, 25’ 53”, 26’ 01”, 26’ 00”, 25’ 50” and 25’ 32”.
Due to the fact that a particular ‘thithi’ lasts for more than 24 hours at times, and for less than 24 hour at times, two ‘thithis’ are registered to be occurring in one day or one ‘thithi’ will be registered to exist for two days, occasionally. Certain ‘thithis’ will be indicated to be valueless, although they are shown to be occurring on a particular day. Though we define a ‘thithi’ to be a phase of a waxing or waning moon, yet establishing the existence of a particular ‘thithi’ involves technical and minute calculations.
Without going into intricate technicalities, let us try to get a relatively clear picture of the idiosyncrasies in fixing a ‘thithi’ for a particular day. If we look through the ten days we are observing the Navaraatthiri fast for the year 2017, the fourth ‘thithi’, sadhurtthi, is indicated to be occurring on Saturday 23.09.2017; the sixth ‘thithi’, sashti, is recorded to be occurring on Tuesday 26.09.2017. Logically, sashti will be expected to occur one day after sadhurtthi; in other words, there should be one clear day between the sadhurtthi and sashti; but there are two clear days before sashti is to be observed in the Tamil month of Purattaasi this year.
From the view-point of Navaraatthiri, theoretically, the Goddess is prayed in the aspect of Goddess Paarvathi on the ‘thithis’, pirathamai, thuthiyai and thirithiyai, in the aspect of Goddess Lakshmi on the ‘thithis’ sadhurtthi, panjami and sashti and in the aspect of Sarasvathi on the ‘thithis’ sapthami, attami and navami. This year sadhurtthi falls on 23.09.2017 and sashti falls on 26.09.2017. This means that there are four days stretching from sadhurtthi to sashti, namely 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th of September; hence Lakshmi Poojaa will be observed for four days, and therefore the festival also stretches for ten days; including the day of Vijayathasami, it becomes eleven days.
Prepared by Dr. K. Thilagawathi