Navpad Oli is a festival celebrated twice a year by Jain community, once in the month of Chaitra (March-April) and then in Ashwin (September-October), according to the Hindu calendar. It falls between the seventh lunar day and full moon day in both the months. The term ‘Navpad’ is a compound of two words, i.e., ‘Nava’ meaning nine and ‘pada’ meaning post, thus people pay their respect to the nine supreme posts or deities of the universe.
The nine posts are explained as follows-
Arihant- He symbolizes purest soul who has destroyed all his inner enemies like anger, greed, ego and deceit. There are no earthly attachments and the soul has learned to live in an equilibrium. Mantra A group of sacred words chanted in order to gain something, be it materialistic pleasures or peaceful mindto be sung while praying to this post is ‘Aum Rhim Namo Arihantanam’. The first day is dedicated to the worship of Arihant and the color and grain chosen for the day are white and rice respectively.
Siddha- He stands for another pure soul that doesn’t have a physical body. He remains in motionless rest and is always joyful and at peace. He is known as a universal observer. Mantra for this section is ‘Aum Rhim Namo Siddhanam’. The second day is dedicated to Siddha who is a liberated soul.
Acharya- ‘Aum Rhim Namo Aayariyanam’ is the mantra to be recited for this post and the third day is dedicated to Acharya who has the ultimate decision making authority. He is the prime motivational force behind the monks and nuns and he is represented with golden yellow color. The fourth day of the festival is dedicated to him, a spiritual master.
Upadhyaya- People chant ‘Aum Rhim Namo Uvajzayanam’ for this post and day forth is dedicated to him. He is responsible for academic activities. He is also the teacher of monks and nuns and thus should know all the philosophies related to the life of Jains. He is like a lieutenant and a spiritual teacher.
Sadhu- Mantra to be chanted is ‘Aum Rhim Namo Loe Avva Sahunam’ for the fifth post who is a monk. He grants renunciation while leaving all the comforts of a house and a familial life behind. He only follows the holy path that leads to salvation. Performing penance and austerity is his prime motive. He doesn’t have any money nor does he own any eatable items. He doesn’t cook and live on the food provided to him by others. He cannot possess any materialistic thing like clothes or slippers. He travels barefoot and wears as minimal as a white cloth around his body. He cannot lie, steal, perform violence, have sexual experiences and possess earthly things. The color and grain dedicated to him are black and Urad dal (black lentils called Vigna Mungo) respectively. The fifth day is dedicated to meditate on Sadhu.
Samyag Darshan- One can chant ‘Aum Rhim Namo Dansanassa’ for the post. The term ‘Samyag Darshan’ means the right view and only the one who has the right perspective or the right thought can do the rightful. To follow the path of righteousness, one needs to have a right view and only then salvation can be attained. The color associated with the day is white whereas people fast on sixth day and consume only boiled rice.
Samyag Jnana- Mantra to be recited is ‘Aum Rhim Namo Nanassa’ for the achievement of right knowledge. One should have right wisdom and that will lead to the right perspective which will ultimately lead to the path of salvation. Color associated with the day is white and just like the previous day, people only consume boiled rice. Day seventh is associated with Samyag Jnana.
Samyag Charitra- ‘Aum Rhim Namo Charittassa’ is the mantra chanted while praying to the post which is related to the rightful conduct of a being. The rightful conduct is also one of the attributes which lead to the path of salvation. One should always have a right conduct and never harm or hurt anyone, either consciously or unconsciously. One needs to pay respect to elders, love to children and show compassion to all the living beings.
Samyag Tap or Austerity- People chant ‘Aum Rhim Namo Tauvasa’ for the ninth post. Samyag Tapa means to perform penance. One should stay away from all the worldly desires and should never give in to physical needs. Fasting is the most appropriate way to do so as it will keep an equilibrium between the internal and external forces. Imbibing qualities like modesty and compassion is also must. Only boiled rice should be consumed on the day and the color associated is white.
People fast for nine days and the ritual is known as ‘ayambil’, in which one can consume only one meal a day. It should be plain food sans spices, salt, sugar, oil and butter. No animal or plant should be hurt, thus consumption of milk, vegetables and fruits is also prohibited.
Another ritual that is performed during these days is called ‘Siddhachakra Puja’ in which people take almost half day to prepare a circular mystical diagram. It is a symbol of liberated soul which is free from the cycles of life and death. It is created on a floor using various lentils and worshipped while reciting mantras to attain salvation. The diagram has nine petals and they are associated with nine posts mentioned above.
Praying during this period can be very beneficial in terms of monetary gain. One can earn all kinds of wealth and be free from financial worries. The importance of keeping the fasts and following a strict routine for the nine days can be experienced both physically and mentally. A person stays fit and away from physical ailments after consuming only boiled grains for few days. The body is detoxicated of all the harmful and junk food particles in our system. The festival also encourages meditation which helps in attaining inner peace and spiritual growth. One stays focused and determined and it becomes easy to make choices in the times of chaos and confusion.