Navratri festival dedicated to the worship of the Hindu deity Goddess Durga. The word Navaratri literally means nine nights, nava meaning nine and rathri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi are worshiped. The tenth day is commonly referred to as Vijayadashami or Dussehra. Navratri is a very important and major festival in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Karnataka during which the traditional dance of Gujarat called “Garba” is widely performed. This festival is celebrated with great zeal in north India as well, in Bihar,West Bengal. Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.
Significanc of Navratri Festival
The beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn are considered to be important junctions of climatic and solar influences. These two periods are taken as sacred opportunities for the worship of the Divine Mother Durga. The dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar.
Navaratri represents a celebration of the Goddess Durga, (the or Power). The Navaratri festival or “Nine Nights festival”.
Traditions during Navratri Festival
- Navaratri is celebrated four times a year. These are Vasanta Navaratri, Ashadha Navaratri,Sharad Navaratri and Paush/Magha Navaratri.
- Gupta Navaratri, also referred as Ashadha or Gayatri or Shakambhari Navaratri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Ashadha (June-July). Gupta Navaratri is observed during the Ashadha Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon).
- Sharad Navaratri is the most important of the Navarathri. It is simply called Maha Navaratri (the Great Navaratri) and it is celebrated in the ‘pratipada’ (first day) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvina. Also known as Sharad Navaratri, as it is celebrated during Sharad (beginning of winter, in month September-October).
- Paush Navaratri is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Paush (December-January). Paush Navaratri is observed during the Paush Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon).
- Magha Navaratri also referred as Gupta Navaratri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (mother Goddess) in the month of Magha Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon).
This is celebrated during Vasanta Ritu (spring season) (March-April). This is also known as Chaitra navaratri as it falls during the lunar month of Chaitra.
- In days long ago by, King Dhruva Sindhu was killed by a lion when he went out or hunting.
- Preparations were made to crown the prince Sudarsana. But, King Yudhajit of Ujjain, the father of Queen Lilavati,and King Virasena of Kalinga, the father of Queen Manorama, were desirous of securing the Kosala throne for their respective grandsons.
- They fought with each other. King Virasena was killed in the battle.
- Manorama fled to the forest with Prince Sudarsana and a eunuch. They took refuge in the hermitage of Rishi Bharadwaja.
- The victor, King Yudhajit. Crowned his grandson, Satrujit, at Ayodhya, the capital of Kosala.
- He then went out in search of Manorama and her son. The Rishi said that he would not give up those who had sought protection under him.
- Yudhajit became furious. He wanted to attack the Rishi. But, his minister told him about the truth of the Rishi’s statement Yudhajit returned to his capital.
- Fortune smiled on Prince Sudarsana. A hermit’s son came one day and called the eunuch by his Sanskrit name Klebba.
- The prince caught the first syllable Kli and began to pronounce it as Kleem. This syllable happened to be a powerful, sacred Mantra.
The ceremony at which the princess was to choose her spouse was arranged. Sashikala at once chose Sudarsana. They were duly wedded. King Yudhajit, who had been present at the function, began to fight with the King of Benares. Devis helped Sudarsana and his father-in-law. Yudhajit mocked Her, upon which Devi promptly reduced Yudhajit and his army to ashes.
Thus Sudarsana and Sashikala returned to the Ashram of Rishi Bharadwaja. The great Rishi blessed them and crowned Sudarsana as the king Kosala.
Sudarshana descendants Sri Rama and Lakshmana also performed worship of Devi during the Sharad Navaratri and they were blessed with her assistance in the search and recovery of Sita.
It commences on the first and completes on the tenth day of the bright half of the lunar month Ashwayuja/Asvina. (September-October)
The Navaratri festival has to be celebrated during the bright fortnight of the month of Asvina, in the order of pratipada, to navami according to the Dhaumya-vacana.
FORMS OF SHAKTI
Nine forms of Shakti are worshipped during the Navaratris are which are worshipped as per the traditions of the region.
- Durga , the inaccessible one
- Amba or Jagadamba, Mother of the universe
- Annapoorna devi, The one who bestows grains (anna) in plenty (purna: used as subjective)
- Sarvamangala, the one who gives joy (mangal) to all (sarva)
- Chandika or Chandi
In Northern Region following nine forms of Devi are worshipped.
Shailpurtri, Siddhidatri, Mahagauri, Kalaratri, Katyayani, Skandamata, Kushmanda, Chandraghanta, Brahmacharini
The Navaratri commences on the first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvin, The festival is celebrated for nine nights once every year during the month of october, although as the dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar, the festival may be held for a day more or a day less.
- Navaratri is celebrated in different ways throughout India. In North India, all these Navaratris are celebrated with much fervor by fasting on all nine days and worshiping the Mother Goddess in her various forms.
- The Chaitra Navratri culminates in Ram Navami and the Sharad Navaratri culminates in Durga Puja and Dussehra.
- The dussehra of Kullu in Himachal Pradesh is particularly famous in the North.
- Navratri festival in Gujarat is one of the main festivals. Garba is dance which people use to dance during Durga Pooja with the groups and live orchestra or devotional songs.
- The last four days of Sharad Navaratri take on a dramatic from in the state of West Bengal. This is the biggest festival of West Bengal.
- These idols are worshipped for five days and immersed in the river on the fifth day.
- In Western India, in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, Navaratri is celebrated with the famous Garba and Dandiya-Raas dances.
- In Goa, zatra begins during Navaratri, entire Antruz (Ponda) is highly decorated. The Saraswat Brahmin temples are beautifully decorated and the idols are taken out for worship.
- The idols are dressed and adorned with flowers, sandalwood paste,turmeric and kumkum.
- In South India, people set up steps and place idols on them. This is known as golu. In Karnataka, Ayudha puja,the ninth day of Mysore Dussehra, is celebrated with the worship of implements used in daily life such as computers, books,vehicles, or kitchen tools.
- Mysore is well known for the festivities that take place during Dussehra, the state festival of Karnataka.
In Kerala, three days: Ashtami, Navami and Vijaya Dashami of Sharad Navaratri are celebrated as Saraswati puja in which books are worshiped. The books are placed for puja on the Ashtami day in own houses. Traditional schools and in temples.
In Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh, people celebrate Bathukamma festival over a period of nine days. It is a kind of navaratri celebration.
- Navaratri is divided into sets of three days to adore three different aspects of the supreme goddess or goddesses. During first three days, the goddess is separated a spiritual force called Durga also known as Kali in order to destroy all evils and grants boons.
- During, the next three days, the Mother is adored as a giver of spiritual wealth, lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees inexhaustible wealth.
- The final three days are spent in worshiping the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati, In order to have all-around to have all-round success in life, believers seek the blessings of all three aspects of the divine Mother.
- Eighth day is traditionally Durgashtami which is a grand celebration in Bengal and Bihar.
North Indian Celebrations
In North India, as the culmination of the Ramlila which is enacted ceremoniously during Dussehra, the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna, and Meghanada are burnt to celebrate the victory of good (Rama) over evil (Ravana) forces on the ‘Vijaya Dashami’ day.
Navaratri is celebrated in a large number of Indian communities. The mother Goddess is said to appear i nine forms, and each one is worshiped for a day.
These nine forms signify various traits that the goddess influences us with. The Devi Mahatmya and other texts invoking the Goddess who vanquished demons are cited.
During the eighth or ninth day, Kanya Poojan, pre-pubescent girls are ceremonially worshipped.
FOOD DURING NAVRATRI FAST
The navaratri fast is observed from the first day to the ninth day. Some people confine to milk and fruits during these nine days. Most devotees take the meal once in a day.