Navratri is a nine days Hindu festival that is celebrated with lots of devotion and faith. These nine days, Goddess Durga also referred as the Shakti – the power of feminism, is worshipped in nine beautiful forms. She is considered as the Mother of the Universe so she is widely called as Maa Durga. Navratri is a combination of two words, ‘nav’ means nine and ‘ratri’ means night. This festival is spread over nine nights and ten days.
During these nine days, people are seen with great enthusiasm and cheer. Many people fast during these nine days without consuming any kind of grains. Special prayers are said, songs are sung, and sweets and delicacies are offered to Goddess Durga. Different parts of India have its own ways to celebrate Navratri.
In Gujarat, people do a beautiful folk dance called as garba and dandiya. Dressed up in beautiful colorful dresses, people get fascinated by the music played by live orchestra. While playing garba and dandiya, people of different background and skills join and form concentric circles. The circles can grow or shrink, ranging from 100 to 1000s of people playing garb and dandiya. People are highly spirited during this festival. They dance for hours. Not just youngsters but even little kids are seen giving their best performance and enjoying this beautiful festival.
In West Bengal, Navratri is celebrated as Durga Puja. It is believed that Goddess Durga was incarnated with the powers of three great Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, in order to slay Mahishasura. Mahishasura was both, human as well as buffalo. He was the fiercest of all the demons and was granted a boon that no man can kill him. He created havoc in the area and underestimated the power of a women. Maa Durga battled for 9 days, and on the 10th day, she destroyed Mahishasura. Therefore the 10th day is called Vijayadashmi, the day of the victory. You must have seen the most famous idols in temples which depicts this scene where Mahishasura, in the form of a half bull, is being slayed by Goddess Durga with her trident. Durga Puja celebrates both the victory of truth over evil, and the strength and power of feminism.
In the southern part of India, the celebration of Navratri is called as Kolu. Goddess Lakshmi, Saraswati and Durga are worshiped during this festival. The Kolu is observed mainly in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. Hundreds of dolls of gods, goddesses, animals, birds and rural life are arranged in specialty built stairs that portray the culture and heritage. Kolu dolls symbolizes the spirituality and essence of life. Some of these settings depicts the mythology, lives during ancient time, and some of them get more creative by setting modern scenes. This festival is celebrated with great devotion and happiness. Families and friends visit each other homes during these nine days. Women are offered Tambulam – a form of gift which includes beetle leaves, vermilion, turmeric, coconut, areca nut, a small mirror, piece of fabric.
In northern India, this festival is celebrated as a victory of Lord Rama over the ten headed demon Ravana, where episodes from the story Ramayana of Rama and Ravana are enacted. Lord Rama is known for his quiet and kind behavior, and for his truth & honesty. After the nine nights of Navratri, comes Dusshera, where the statues of Ravana, Kumbhakarna, and Meghanada are burnt to celebrate the victory of good over evil forces on Dusshera.
During the nine days of Navratri, nine forms of Goddess Durga, called nav-durga, are worshiped in the following order:
- Shailaputri: Shailaputri is worshipped on the first day of Navratri. She is the main energy of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and was born as daughter to Himalayas.
- Brahmacharini: She is worshiped on second day. This form represents penance and good conduct leading to blissfulness and moksha. This form of Durga is related to severe penance undertaken by Sati and Parvati to attain Lord Shiva as husband.
- Chandraghanta: She is believed to reward people with her grace, bravery and courage.
- Kushmanda: She is credited with creating the world with her divine smile and is believed to improve health and bestow wealth and strength to her devotees.
- Skandamata: She is the mother of Skanda, or Karthikeya, the chief warrior of Gods. it is believed that one who worships Skandamata, is granted with salvation, prosperity, and wisdom.
- Katyayani: She is the daughter of sage Katyayan. She is associated with the fierce forms of Durga.
- Kaalratri: She is widely regarded as on of the many destructive forms of Mother Goddess- Kali, Mahakali, Bhadrakali, Bhairavi, Mrityu, Rudrani, Chamunda, Chandi and Durga. She is believed to be the destroyer of all the demons, ghosts, spirits and negative energies, who all flee upon knowing of her arrival.
- Mahagauri: She is all white and represented as pure and beautiful. She is calm and grants wisdom to her devotees. It is believed that one who worships Mahagauri gets all the relief from the sufferings of life.
- Siddhidatri: She is one who fulfills all the wishes and grants boons.
This festival gives great importance to women and young Girls. During the eight and ninth day kanak or kanya (young girl) puja is performed. Nine young girls are worshiped representing the nine forms of Maa Durga. Young girls are invited to many homes and are offered food and gifts as a symbol of respect to Goddess Durga. Their are welcomed with great love and devotion and blessings are taken. According to ancient Hindu scriptures young girls are considered pure and they are worshiped as a form of Maa Durga, hence they are given importance during Navratri.
Different regions has different ways to celebrate this beautiful festival, with one thing in common, this festival marks the victory of truth over evil forces.
Wish all our readers a Joyous Navratri and Happy Dussehra. May Goddess Durga take away all your worries and bless you with health, wealth, and prosperity.