In Hindu religion and mythology, the Navagrahas occupy an important role. Nava means nine. Graha means planet. Graha literally means to grab. They are probably called so because they cause eclipses by grabbing the Sun and other stars. The nine planets are:
|Ravi (The Sun)|
|Soma (The Moon)|
|Kuja or Mangala|
|Brihaspati or Guru|
Each of the planets is supposed to bestow a particular boon to humans. The Hindu astrology is based on an elaborate calculation of the positions of these planets at the time of one's birth. For example, the zodiac is divided in to twelve zones ('houses' of 30 degrees each). The planet Sun travels in to one of these houses each month. Similarly, the other planets have their times of travel through the zodiac assigned to them. As the planets travel through these zodiac signs, their relative positions with respect to each other changes and is supposed to determine the fate of the human affairs. An astrologer can draw up a horoscope of a person based on his time of birth and calculate the relative positions of the planets relative to this horoscope. The planets are also believed to influence the outcomes of historical events of entire nations and the Earth. Each planet has its own mode of circumambulation - clockwise or anti-clockwise. Each planet faces a different direction. In religious rites, the planets are represented by beetle nuts and the priest invites each planet to be present there and witness and bless the puja.