Navratri, the festival of nine nights is devoted to the reverence of the Supreme or Goddess Durga who is the manifestation of the absolute power. Celebrated in the month of Ashwin these nine nights are devoted to the Mother Goddess who exists in many forms.
During Navratri the devout offer prayers and seek her blessings to lead a peaceful and prosperous life. Goddess Durga, the ancient Navapatrika, the pagan Goddess who bestowed the peasants with a year of good harvest is the powerful Goddess who is the manifestation of the energies of Lord Bramha, Vishnu and Maheshwar appears in her fearsome form to slay the asura and reestablish peace and joy in the earth again.
Types of Navratris
There are five Navratris devoted to the worship of Shakti or Goddess Durga but only three Navratris are celebrated.
Sharad Navratri is the autumnal celebration of good harvest. Goddess Durga the symbol of Shakti is worshipped with great ardour. She slays the evil to establish peace and prosperity on the earth. This festival is celebrated almost throughout the country and especially the East.
Vasant Navratri is celebrated during spring or the beginning of summer. This Navratri is celebrated in North India. In Jammu, the Vaishno Devi temple observes.
Ashard Navratri is celebrated in the month of July-August and is called Guhya Navaratri in Himachal Pradesh.
When is Navratri held
In the lunar month of Ashwin, Navratri, the festival of nine nights is held on the first day or pratipada of the fortnight. Generally held during the beginning of October, the dates of Navratri as of other festivals are determined according to the lunar calendar.
Where is Navratri Celebrated
Navratri is celebrated throughout India. It upholds unique rituals and methods of festivity in accordance with different regions of the country.
People of Northern India celebrate Navratri with great fervour, fasting for all nine days and worshipping Goddess Durga in her nine forms. Kulu in Himachal Pradesh attracts tourists from all parts of the world for its well known festivities.
In the Southern states of India especially Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, Sharad Navaratri is celebrated by inviting people home enjoy the festivities. The process is called Golu or Bombegolu. In Karnataka, effigies of Ravana representing the evil are lighted on the tenth day of the festivity.
The ultimate 4 days of Sharad Navaratri in West Bengal is the Durga Puja, the biggest festival of the state. Beautiful clay idols of Goddess Durga are worshipped throughout the state with great fervour. The Goddess is seen in her most dynamic form, beautiful and fearsome invoking awe and bhakti in her devotees. On the fifth day or the tenth day of the festivity the beautifully crafted clay idols are immersed in the river.
Garba Dance remains the exclusive attraction of Sharad Navaratri in Western India.
Significance of Nine Nights
Navaratri is divided into 3 parts each dedicated to 3 forms of Goddess Durga. On the first three days the Goddess is invoked as Devi Durga, the restorer of peace and prosperity by slaying the demon, Mahisasur. She is the mighty Goddess who destroys all the impurities, defects and vices in an individual. The Goddess of power and energy, Durga is also worshipped in her other manifestations; Kumari, Parvati and Kali.
On the first day of Navaratri, a small bed of mud is prepared in the puja premises and barley seeds are sown on it. When the shoots are 3 to 5inches long on the 10th day, the seedlings are distributed among the devotees. The next three days of Navaratri, devotees worship the Lakshmi form of the Goddess. Goddess Lakshmi, the bestower of spiritual wealth and immense prosperity is worshipped from the 4th to 6th day of Navaratri. On the fifth day, it is traditional to display books, light lamps and invoke the Goddess of knowledge and art, Goddess Saraswati. The final 3 days of Navaratri dedicated to Goddess Sarasawati, the giver of spiritual knowledge. On the 8th day of Navratri, a holy fire is lit to perform yagna. The Goddess is then offered, clarified ghee, rice pudding and sesame seeds as an offering.
Each night of Navaratri is dedicated to nine forms of Devi Durga. The nine forms are:
Devi Maha Gauri