Importance of Navratri.
“Navratri” or “Navaratri” is a synchrony of two words – “nava” (means nine) and “ratri” (means night). Joined together, it converts to nine nights. The festival of Navratri, which extend over 9 nights and 10 days, is one of the most valued festivals in Hinduism and celebrated during the autumn season. It lays importance on the worship of Goddess Durga or Shakti, which symbolizes the energy of the universe, in her nine different forms. Of the four types of Navaratris – Chaitra Navratri, Paush Navratri, Magha Navratri, and Sharad Navratri – celebrated in India throughout the year, Maha Navratri or Sharad Navratri is measured as the most propitious.
According to the Hindu calendar, the festival is celebrated in the month of Ashvin, Which typically falls in September and October, according to the Gregorian calendar. This year, Navratri will be recognized from October 17 to October 25, 2020, and the 10th and last day will be celebrated as Dussehra.
Importance and Significance of Navratri
When it comes to the value of Navratri, like every other Indian festival, the core message remains the same – the victory of good over evil – but the stories and the history differ. Even across the geography of India, while the eastern and north-eastern states pass on to the celebrations as Durga Puja, for the northern and western region, it is a nine-night festival that is recognized to celebrate the victory of Rama over Ravana.
It is believed, that Goddess Durga fights with demon Mahishasura and beaten him. To celebrate her win and Mahishasura’s beat, the day is marked to worship and honour the Goddess. The first day of the festival, Mahalaya, begins with remembering Goddess Durga. It marks the ending of the period of Shradhh or Pitri-Paksha. On the sixth day, the goddess is greeted into homes of people and pandals. The celebrations prolong for the next few days and on the 10th day (Vijayadashami) the statue of the goddess is engrossed in the water. In North India, the nine-day festival is noticed to celebrate the victory of Rama over Ravana. For nine days, Ramlila is performed on stage, and on the tenth and final day, when Rama ‘kills’ Ravana with his bow, the festival is celebrated by flaming statues of Ravana and his brothers Meghnad and Kumbhakaran. Throughout the festival, people dress up in traditional clothing, observe fasts, and offer prayers.
Stage decorations, performance of stories and the mythological legend, recite of sacred writings, prayers, and dances such as dandiya and garba are performed to keep in melody with the courage of the festival. Families and friends get together to visit pandals and take part in the celebrations. On the last day, the statue is either engrossed in water (in case of Durga Puja) or the statues are flamed (in case of Dusshera). India is famous as the land of colorful, exciting festivals across the world. Here, religion and holiness are an indivisible part of the social as well as enriching fabric; thus, every festival celebrated by Indians has a profound meaning, motive and meaning attached to it. The festivities, spectacle and show are all joyful features of the festivals but the core remains the traditional principles impart in one generation from the other. During this festival, people pray to Goddess Durga as she is believed to be the symbol of positive outer space energy. Each of the nine days of Navratri is devoted to the worship of different forms of the generous Mother Goddess.
Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva together created Goddess Durga.
The nine days is devoted to Goddess Durga’s nine avatars and considered very auspicious. In each part of India, it has a different significance.
- The story associated with Navratri is the skirmish that occurred between Goddess Durga and the devil Mahishasura. Mahishasura had been granted endurance by Lord Brahma and had been told that he could only be crushed by a woman. He attacked Trilok (Earth, Heaven and Hell), and the Gods were not being competent to defeat him.
- Finally Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva together formed Goddess Durga, who finally beaten Mahishasura. She battled with him for 15 days, and the devil kept changing his form. Mahishasura would take various forms to baffle Goddess Durga. Finally, when he changed into a buffalo is when Goddess Durga killed him with her trishul. It is on the day of Mahalaya that Mahishasura was slaughtered. Each day of Navratri has a different colour attached to it. On each day a separate form of Goddess Durga is worshipped. They are Goddess Shailputri (Day 1), Goddess Brahmacharini (Day 2), Goddess Chandraghanta (Day 3), Goddess Kushmanda (Day 4), Goddess Skandamata (Day 5), Goddess Katyayani (Day 6), Goddess Kaalratri (Day 7), Goddess Mahagauri (Day 8) and Goddess Siddhidatri (Day 9).
- In the East and various parts of North east India, Navratri is celebrated as Durga Puja, where the festival signifies the triumph of Goddess Durga over devil Mahishasura, signifying the victory of good over evil. In the Northern and Western parts of India, Ram Leela is held, ending in Dusshera, where statues of Ravana are set on flame to signify Lord Ram’s triumph over Ravana.
Devotees, during the nine days of Navratri worship Goddess Durga and seek her blessings. According to Hindu tradition, one who worships Durga Maa during this time can accomplish deliverance and also can get his/her wishes rewarded.
History of Chaitra Navratri
Navratri is divided into three parts to worship three different features of three Goddesses. According to Hindu belief, Lord Shiva allowed his wife, Durga to visit her mother for nine days only. This is the reason why many Hindu women visit their homes during the Navratri season. By the way, Goddess Durga also killed the devil Mahishasura during this period. Thus Goddess Durga is worshipped during the Navratri as a symbol of shakti, which means eventual strength. Worshipping Durga gives internal strength to the devotees.
Worship of Goddess Durga
The first three days of Navratri are devoted to Goddess Durga, a combatant embodiment of the supreme mother. During these days, her power to conquer all evils and vices is respected. On each of the three days, three different embodiment of Durga are worshipped. On the first day, the Goddess is prayed in Kumari form, which indicates her in the appearance of a girl child. On the second day, she is worshiped as Parvati, which is an epitome as a young woman. And on the third day, she is worshiped in the form of Kali, which signifies her deadly strength and will to destroy all immorality. Goddess Kali also means the adult stage of a woman.
Worship of Goddess Lakshmi
It is assumed that after the heartfelt three-day worship of Goddess in the Durga form, a person attains victory over his/her inner voice, like ego, anger, lust, fear etc. and only then he/she can move onward to achieve spiritual wealth. Thus, Goddess Lakshmi, who is believed to be the bestower of sacred, money-oriented wellbeing and prosperity, is worshipped from the fourth to the sixth day of Navratri. However, on the fifth day, the Mother Goddess is worshipped in the form of Saraswati, the deity of knowledge and wisdom as per the Hindu religion. On this day, all learning instruments, like books, pen, and musical instruments of the household are placed in front of the goddess and a diya is lit. This custom also indicates that wealth and wisdom go hand in hand.
Worship of Goddess Saraswati
On the seventh day of Navratri, the virtuous and all knowing form of Mother Goddess, Saraswati is worshipped. People plead to her for true religious direction and clarity of mind. On the eighth day, a detailed yagna (ritualistic fire sacrifice) is performed to reconcile Goddess Durga, before she is offer farewell. During the yagna, the give up of clarified butter (ghee), rice pudding known as kheer and sesame seeds are prepared.
Worship of Kanyas
The last day of Navratri festival is known as ‘Mahanavami’. This day is measured very fortunate as per the Hindu religion. On this day, nine girls, who still have to reach teenage years, are worshipped with great devotion. These nine girls symbolize the nine personifications of the divine Mother Goddess. The girls are welcomed into the home by washing their feet and are offered Prasad and new set of clothes at the end of the puja by the devotees. Thus, Goddess Shakti represents the immense power of God, which does the work of formation, protection as well as demolition. The worship of Goddess Shakti re-confirms the scientific theory that energy is everlasting. It cannot be produced or shattered, it is always there.