“Nava-ratri” literally means “nine nights.”
During Navaratri, we invoke the energy of the universal mother, commonly referred to as “Durga,” which literally means the remover of miseries of life. She is also referred to as “Devi” (goddess) or “Shakti” (energy or power). It is this energy, which helps God to proceed with the work of creation, preservation and destruction. In other words, you can say that God is motionless, absolutely changeless, and the Divine Mother Durga, does everything. Truly speaking, our worship of Shakti re-confirms the scientific theory that energy is imperishable. It cannot be created or destroyed. It is always there.
Navaratri is celebrated four times a year. They are Basantha Navaratri, Ashada Navaratri, the Sharana Navaratri, and the Poushya/Magha Navaratri.
1. Vasantha Navaratri - in the spring season(March – April).
2. Gupta Navaratri – in the month of Ashada (June – July).
3. Sharana Navaratri – This is the most important of the Navratris, is simply called maha Navratri (the Great Navratri) is and celebrated in the month of aashivina (beginning of winter, Sept-Oct).
4. Poushya Navaratri – in the month of Poushya (Dec – Jan).
5. Magha Navaratri – in the month of Magha (Jan – Feb).
Navaratri is celebrated in different ways throughout India.
1. In North India, all three Navratris are celebrated with much fervor by fasting on all nine days and worshipping the Mother Goddess in her different forms. The Chaitra Navratri culmintes in Ram navami and the Sharad Navratri culminates in Durga puja and Dusshera.The last four days of Sharad Navratri take on a particularly dramatic form in the state of West Bengal in East Indiawhere they are celebrated as Durga Puja. This is the biggest festival of the year in this state. Exquisitely crafted and decorated life-size clay idols of the Goddess Durga depicting her slaying the demon Mahisasura are set up in temples and other places. These idols are then worshipped for five days and immersed in the river on the fifth day.
2. In Western India, particularly in the state of Gujarat, Navratri is celebrated with the famous Garba and Dandiya-Raas dance.
3. In South India,people set up steps and place idols on them. This is known as golu. Photos of typical Golu displayed in Tamilnadu style at a home in Nerul, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India is shown by the side.Navratri is also divided into sets of three days to adore three different aspects of the supreme goddess or goddesses.
First three days
1. The goddess is separated as a spiritual force called Durga also known as Kali in order to destroy all our impurities.
Second three days
1. The Mother is adored as a giver of spiritual wealth, Laksmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees inexhaustible wealth, as she is the goddess of wealth.
Final three days
1. The final set of three days is spent in worshipping the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati. In order to have all-round success in life, believers seek the blessings of all three aspects of the divine femininity, hence the nine nights of worship.
In South India, Saraswati pooja is performed on the 9th day. Eight day is traditionally Durgashtami which is big in Bengal. The 10th day is Ayudha Pooja when everyone gives their tools of the trade — pens, machinery, books, automobiles, school work, etc. a rest and ritually worships them. They start a fresh from the next day, the 10th day which is considered as ‘Vijaya Dasami’. Students also pay homage to their respective teachers as they are considered the third god (Maathaa, Pitha, Guru, Daivam – Mother, Father, Teacher & God).
During Navratri, some devotees of Durga observe a fast and prayers are offered for the protection of health and prosperity. A period of introspection and purification, Navratri is traditionally an auspicious and religious time for starting new ventures.
During this vowed religious observance, a pot is installed (ghatasthapana) at a sanctified place at home. A lamp is kept lit in the pot for nine days. The pot symbolizes the universe. The uninterrupted lit lamp is the medium through which we worship the effulgent Adishakti, i.e. Sree Durgadevi. During Navratri, the principle of Sree Durgadevi is more active in the atmosphere.
Navratri is celebrated in a large number of Indian communities. The mother goddess is said to appear in 9 forms, and each one is worshipped for a day. These nine forms signify various traits that the goddess influences us with. The Devi Mahatmyam and other texts invoking the Goddess who vanquished demons are cited. During the eight or ninth day, Kanyan Pooja, pre-pubescent girls are ceremonially worshiped.
NAVA DURGA – NINE FORMS OF DURGA
SHAILPUTRI (1ST NIGHT)
BRAMHACHARINI (2ND NIGHT)
CHANDRAGANTHA (3RD NIGHT)
KUSHMANDA (4TH NIGHT)
SKANDAMATHA (5TH NIGHT)
KATHYAYINI (6TH NIGHT)
KAALARATRI (7TH NIGHT)
MAHAGAURI (8TH NIGHT)
SIDDHIDATRI (9TH NIGHT)