Navratri, one of the important, sacred and colorful festival in Hindu Religion. Navratri worships Goddess Durga as Nav Durga. Moreover festival is about knowing and praying various forms of Goddess which are the epitomes of power. These feminine aspects have the ability to bring in anything desired. Navratri is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian cultural sphere. The festival comes twice a year, firstly in the month of chaitra and secondly in month of ashwin as per Hindu Calendar. The month of chaitra falls in the Gregorian months of March and April. While Ashwin Navratri festival falls in the month of september or october. However, in practice, one that is post-monsoon autumn festival called Sharada Navaratri is the most observed in the honour of the Devi Durga.
Navratri In Different Parts Of India
Even though the whole India celebrates the nine day festival but it involves various aspects. Each state of India has its own colour so are the ways of celebrating festivals.
As in the eastern and north eastern states of India, the Durga Puja is synonymous with Navaratri, wherein goddess Durga battles and emerges victorious over the buffalo demon to help restore Dharma. Whereas in the northern and western states, the festival is synonymous with “Rama Lila” and Dussehra that celebrates the battle and victory of god Rama over the demon king Ravana. While in Western states, females worship Durga in the form of small earthen pots (Garbi) for nine days. They lit a continuous lamp for whole 9 days. Traditionally they sing aartis and bhajans in the night. Usually people gather around the devi statue and garbi for dance in traditional folk dance viz. Garba. The word garba composes of Sanskrit words Garbha and Deep. Lastly in southern states, the victory of different goddesses, of Rama or Devi Saraswati is celebrated.
What To Celebrate In Navratri
In all the cases, the common theme is the battle and victory of Good over Evil based on a regionally famous epic or legend such as the Ramayana or the Devi Mahatmya.
Nine Days – Nine Goddesses
Navratri Day 1 – Celebrating Nav Durga Shailputri
The first day of navratri has an association with Devi Shailputri (literally “Daughter of Mountain”), an incarnation of Parvati. In fact in this form Goddess Durga is born again after demise of Sati at the house of Himalaya and her consort Maina. Sati is the form of Durga in the previous birth and the companion of Lord Shiva. The Goddess was named as Shailputri because she is the Putri (daughter) of Shaila (mountain). In this form she rides Nandi, the bull, with a trishula in her right hand and lotus in her left. She is the provider of all good fortunes.
Day 2 – Devi Brahmacharini
Then on the next day people in India worship Goddess Brahmacharini. As Brahmacharini, another incarnation of Divine Mother Parvati, she forfeit to achieve her goal to have Shiva as her husband. Other names of Goddess Brahmacharini are Tapas Charini, Aparna and Uma. The deity Goddess holds a rosary (mala) in her right hand and kamandal in her left. She is always represented barefooted. Hence keeping the lifestyle of devotee she did a great penance. In fact the name brahmacharini means the one who lives the life of Brahman (The supreme god). She followed the path of devotion, penance, tapa. Goddess Brahmacharini is the bestower of wisdom and knowledge. Truly worshipping Goddess Brahmacharini, gives good fortune and removes all the obstacles from our life.
Day 3 – Celebrating Devi Chandraghanta
On day 3 we celebrate the festival by worshipping Devi Chandraghanta – the married form of Maa Parvati. Chandraghanta Devi is the Goddess of spiritual and internal power. People who have unnecessary enemies and severe obstacles in life should worship the Goddess to set themselves free. She always keeps her devotees away from all hindrances and provides contentment in life.
Navratri Day 4 – Celebrating Nav Durga Kushmanda
Goddess Kushmanda is the Goddess of day four. Believed to be the
creative power of the universe, Kushmanda associated with the bestow of
vegetation on earth. She is having eight arms and riding on a Tiger.
Kushmanda Mata puja brings you good health, gives wealth and strength. By worshipping Kushmanda Devi, devotees get her blessings, energy and power.
Navratri Day 5 – Celebrating Nav Durga Skandamata
Day 5 is the day of Goddess Skandamata as Nav Durga. She is the mother of
Skanda (or Kartikeya, Murugun). She symbolizes the transforming strength of a mother when her child is in danger. She is depicted riding a ferocious lion, having four arms and holding her baby. Goddess Skandamata brings happiness, peace, and prosperity into the house.
Navratri Day 6 – Celebrating Devi Katyayana Or Katyayani
Goddess Katyayana or Katyayani is the sixth aspect of divine feminine energy. She is an incarnation of maa Parvati as the warrior. She is shown to exhibit courage to kill MAHISHASURA. As a warrior Goddess, she is one of the most violent forms of Goddess adi shakti. Moreover in this avatar, Katyayani rides a lion and has four hands. It is believed if girls are facing issues for fixing a marriage then they can pray Maa Katyayani. In order to obtain a happy and smooth marriage life Devi Katyayani is worshipped. She ensures harmony and peace in married life.
Day 7 – Celebrating Nav Durga Kalaratri
The day 7 or Maha Saptami is the day for worshipping Maa Kalaratri (Maa Kali). It is the most ferocious form of Goddess Durga. It is believed that Mother Parvati removed her fair skin to kill the demons Sumbha and Nisumbha. Symbolically she is the destroyer of ignorance and darkness from the universe. This form of Goddess Durga is quite popular in West Bengal. There devotees celebrate the festival as ‘Durga Poojan or Durga Puja’.
Navratri Day 8 – Celebrating Nav Durga Mahagauri
On ashtami (the 8th day) we worship Maa Mahagauri. She symbolizes
intelligence and peace. Mahagauri is also known as Shwetabardhara. It is
believed that she is the most beautiful and glows very brightly. For this reason her name is Gauri. Maa Mahagauri purifies the souls of her devotees
and removes all their sins. She has a calming effect on the lives of her devotees and also helps them improve their knowledge.
Navratri Day 9 – Celebrating Nav Durga Siddhidatri
Day 9 (Maha Navami) is dedicated to Siddhidatri Devi. While sitting on a lotus, she possess and bestows all type of Siddhis (Powers). Here in this form she has four hands. Another name of the Goddess is Mahalakshmi Devi (Goddess of wealth, comforts, fortune, powers and more). Siddhidatri Devi wears red colored saree and rides over the lion. She holds a lotus in the lower left hand, a shankha in her upper left hand, chakra in her upper right hand and a bulgeon (Gada) in the lower right hand. Also she sits on a Lotus flower. Maa Siddhidatri grants dhyeya, dharma, moksha to her devotees.
The Real Purpose
For these nine days devotees follow the sattvic lifestyle. They keep fast, chant mantra and meditate. Each of the nine aspects of feminine energy have a particular mantra and stotra. Because each mantra holds specific meaning and purpose, therefore they need to be practiced accordingly. These different aspects of the feminine cosmic energy called Nav Durga, the nine goddesses. Somewhere she is in the role of mother, at the other time doing great penance. At one place a fierce form of mahakali, and at other place peaceful as Mahagauri.
But in modern times, the festival has lost its original form and importance. It has now been matched with current modern life style. Rituals and sadhana has been transformed as per our convenience. However, it is the festival helps to win over 9 demons in our day to day life. And these nine demons are not outside but inside, which include kama, krodha, lobha, moha, ahankaar, darr, irsha, jadta, nafrat. In Navratri, fasting holds great importance, which does not just hold spiritual values but also, enhances physical, mental and personal well – being. Worshipping Goddess Durga in various forms bestows peace, energy, wealth and health to her devotees. Divine mother always protect her children.
सर्वमङ्गलमाङ्गल्ये शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके ।
शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरि नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते ॥
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