Navratri means “Nine Nights”.
Navaratri is the longest Hindu festival where each of its nine days holds its own significance. Navratri commences with Pratipada (Pratham) and ends with Navami.
As Per Vedic Shastr Navaratri occurs five times in year and categorized as-
Main popular Navratri (Major celebration as per Mythological evidence)
• Chaitr Navratri: Vasant Navratri – Spring (March – April)
• Ashvin Navratri: Sharad Navratri – Autumn (September – October)
Gupt Navratri (Secret celebration is auspicious days to perform rituals or tantriks)
• Maagh Navratri: Shit Ritu – Winter (January – February )
• Ashaadh Navratri: Grisham Ritu – Summer (June – July)
• Paush Navratri: Hemant Ritu – Prewinter (December – January)
The tenth day of Navratri festival is Vijayadashami that symbolizes the winning of purity over evil.
9 divine forms of Goddess Durga with 9 different names
The Mother Goddess is worshipped in her 9 divine forms with different names Goddess Durga in north India, Goddess Kali in East India, Goddess Saraswati in south India and Goddess Lakshmi in west India.
1. Mata Shailputri – First day of Navratri – Embodiment of the power of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
2. Mata Brahmacharini – Second day of Navratri – Filled with bliss and happiness, way to emancipation – Moksha.
3. Mata Chandraghanta – Third day of Navratri – worshipped for peace, tranquillity, and prosperity in life.
4. Mata Kushmanda – Fourth day of Navratri – the creator of the entire Universe, Spreads light in all directions.
5. Maa Skanda – Fifth day of Navratri – gods commander in chief in the war against the demons.
6. Maa Katyayani – Sixth day of Navratri – daughter in the form of a goddess.
7. Mata Kalratri – Seventh day of Navratri – ‘Shubhamkari’ one who does good things.
8. Mata MahaGauri – Eighth day of Navratri – representing calmness and exhibits wisdom.
9. Mata Siddhidatri – Ninth day of Navratri – supernatural healing powers.
Reasons For Navratri Celebration
According to legends: Navrati celebrates the victory of good over evil.
Mahishasura, who had a buffalo’s head received a boon from Lord Shiva. When his arrogance grew, he started troubling the gods and humans. Mother Durga ended the demon’s evil by killing him.
Traditional Hindu mythology: Lord Rama started the tradition
It is believed that Lord Rama started the tradition of celebrating Navratri just before winter. He performed Durga Puja before he left for Lanka and returned victoriously.
Hindu religious custom: Praying brings health, wealth and prosperity
Goddess Durga embodies the representation of creation, power, and destruction. Her blessings are bestowed on us in the form of Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati on Navratri. In the first three days of Navratri, the Goddess is venerated as Durga, the following three days, Lakshmi is worshipped and the concluding days are dedicated to Saraswati.
Vedic Shastr’s Auspicious Planetary positions: Day and night are same.
During both popular Navratris, the length of the day and night are roughly equal. The rising moon phase of the transition from one season to another is similar (autumn to winter and winter to spring). These periods are auspicious for fasting to keep ourselves healthy for the rest of the year.
Ayurved: Seasonal Biochemical changes in body
The start of the increasing moon phase in the Indian lunar calendar is the date when the biochemical changes in the body become conducive to performing of various purifying observances of mind and body. So the fasts undertaken in the period are most beneficial and it is believed that fasting during this period would bring more health benefits.
Hindu scriptures: Controls Inner Thieves
As per all Hindu scriptures – Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavata Purana and Yajnavalkya Smriti; Praying and fasting is good to control the major weaknesses of the human personality. As well to gain victory over negativities and to get moksh.
1) Kaam (Lust)
2) Krodh (Anger)
3) Lobh (Greed)
4) Moh (Attachment)
5) Ahankar (Ego)
6) Darr (Fear)
7) Irsha (Jealousy)
8) Ghrina (Hate)
9) Paschataap (Guilty)
7 Types of celebration: Regional celebration patterns
1. North India – Panjab
The people from north India specially Panjab, perform fasts to show their devout austerity to Goddess Durga- the symbol of Shakti or power. A Jagrata is performed where devotional songs are sung in the honor of Goddess and keep awake the whole night.
The fast is performed for the first seven days, which breaks on the eighth day of Navratri by organizing a feast for nine young girls known as Kanjak and gifted red Chunri.
2. West India, Gujrat and Maharashtra
West India, Gujrat, and Maharashtra are the centroids of the most vibrant Navratri celebration. A clay pot known as Garbha or womb is the source of life on earth. The dance is also termed as Garbha that derives its name from the iconic clay pot.
Dandiya Raas is another contemporary attraction of this festival where people dance in coordination with each other. In Dandiya Raas event, sticks of equal length are used for the dance. Married women exchange the gesture of ‘Sau Mangalyam’ by putting Haldi and Kumkum onto their foreheads.
3. South India, Kerala
South India, Kerala celebrates the last three days of Navratri i.e. Ashtami, Navami and Vijaya Dashami. Goddess Saraswati is worshipped during the last three days, they firmly believe that Saraswati Mata will grant them the wisdom of learning and knowledge. They place the books and musical instruments in front of the Goddess on Ashtami. They pray the Goddess for granting them knowledge and education. On Vijaya Dashami, they take the books out for learning.
4. The Dravidian state
The Dravidian state, Tamil Nadu devotes the nine days of Navratri to Goddess Durga, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati. Women belonging to the Iyer community invite their married female and gift them symbols of marital goodwill- bangles, earrings etc.
They create a special makeshift staircase ‘Golu’ that consists of nine steps symbolizing the nine days of Navratri. Idols of Gods and Goddesses are placed on the stairs that are handed over from generation to generation.
5. Andhra Pradesh, South East India
Navratri is celebrated as ‘Bathukamma Panduga’ in Andhra Pradesh, South East India. The term celebrates universal motherhood. Women prepare ‘Bathuka’ which is a beautiful stack of seasonal flowers which often appear like a pot.
They have the ritual to position themselves in the centre and sing songs dedicated to Goddess Shakti. After performing the ritual, they float away from the Bathukkas in lake water.
6. West Bengal
In West Bengal, Navratri has its synonym as Durga Puja. Durga Puja is considered to be the most joyous and important festival for the Bengalis. It is celebrated with a great pomp and lavishness. This is a temporal sight when the festival begins from the sixth day of Navratri – Shashthi.
Maa Durga is welcomed to her maternal home from the heavens. Idols of Goddess Durga along with her children-Kartik, Ganesh, Lakshmi and Saraswati are sculpted in the Durga Puja. The festival becomes worth considering if one talks about Navratri.
7. The central part of India
It is the most important festival for the Hindus in the central part of India – especially Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh. For the nine-day, they play and enjoy Ram Lila. The tenth day of the festival is popularly known as Dussehra.
While Navratri festivity ends everywhere on the tenth day, it marks the beginning of the festival. People gather together in a pompous mood, marking the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after killing the demon, Ravana. On Dussehra.
The nine days is a period to celebrate purity and goodness. The Goddess is always present within us to enlighten.