Navaratri

11 min read
Posted on April 28, 2022

Navaratri is a prominent Hindu festival that is celebrated for nine nights, ending on the tenth day with Dasami. There are four Navaratris celebrated throughout the year, as per Hindu Calendar. They are Sharda Navaratri, Chaitra Navaratri, Magha Navaratri and Asadha Navaratri.

Navaratri

Navaratri is a nine days festival celebrating the victory of good over evil. It is celebrated in reverence of Shakti or the Supreme Feminine energy, known as Kali, Durga or Parvati. The word ‘Navaratri’ means ‘nine nights’ There are four types of Navaratris celebrated every year as follows:

  • Shardiya Navaratri: Derived from the word ‘sharad’, meaning autumn. This is the most celebrated form of Navaratri. It Falls on the first day of the fortnight of Ashvin Maa Durga is worshiped along with Ganesha, Shri Lakshmi, Mata Parvati, Shivji and Karthikeyan. Noticeably, through ayudha puja, Saraswatiji is worshipped for peace and knowledge on the ninth day especially in South India.
  • Chaitra Navaratri: Second most celebrated Navaratri, Chaitra Navaratri falls in the lunar month of Chaitra (march-april), which is considered as the first month of Hindu Lunisolar calendar. Nine forms of Shakti are worshiped during the nine days of Chaitra Navaratri.
  • Magha Navaratri: Occurs in the lunar month of magha (January-February), it is also known as gupt Navaratri. Also observed as a day called Vasant Panchami, it marks the official start of spring. Goddess Saraswati is worshipped through arts, music and kite flying. Some people also offer prayer to Kam dev on this day.
  • Ashada Navaratri: It is also observed as Gupta Navaratri and occurs in the lunar month of ashadha (june-july), at the start of the monsoon.

DEITIES ASSOCIATED WITH THE FESTIVAL:

Nine forms of Shakti are worshipped on nine nights of Navaratri, with specific representation and symbolization.

Day 1: Shailaputri

Day2: Brahmacharini

Day 3: Chandraghanta

Day 4: Kushmanda

Day 5: Skandamata

Day 6: Katyayini

Day 7: Kalaratri

Day 8: Mahagauri

Day 9: Siddhidhatri

  • Shailaputri: Shaila Putri means, ‘the daughter of mountains.’ In this form, Durga is depicted riding the bull Nandi, holding trisula in right hand and lotus in left. She is an incarnation of Mahakali. She is actually a restructured form of Devi Sati, also known as Hemavati. She is considered to be the mother of nature.
  • Brahmacharini: An incarnation of Parvatiji, Brahmacharini is worshipped on the second night of Navaratri. Brahmacharini means the one who observes austerity. She is the unmarried version of Parvati, represented with bare feet, japamala in one hand and kamandal in the other, showing the way to moksha or liberation.
  • Chandraghanta: Tritiya day commences worship of Chandraghanta roop of Parvatiji. It is said that Parvatiji, after marrying Shivji, forced her forehead on half-moon (ardhachandra). Chandra is said to reside on her forehead ever since. She has three eyes, ten hands carrying weapons and rides a lion to battle against evil.
  • Kushmanda: Worshipped on Chaturthi tithi, she is associated with bringing light in darkness and is shown with 10 hands carrying various holy objects and weapons. She rides a lion, symbolizing courage and strength.
  • Skandmata: Skandmata (Mother of Kartikeyan), is worshipped on the fifth day of Navaratris, depicting protection to her infant Kartikeya. She is represented with four arms, holding an infant in the upper right arm and lotus in the upper left arm. Her lower left arm is in a blessing posture while the lower right arm holds a lotus, symbolizing calm and peace.
  • Katyayini: An incarnation of Durga, she was born out of saint Katyayna. She is the most violent form of mata, with eighteen arms and riding a lion. She is believed to be an amalgamation of Lakshmiji, Parvati ji and Saraswatiji. Observed on Shashtami day, this day also marks the beginning of Shardiya Durga puja.
  • Kaalaratri: Worshiped on Saptami, this is the most ferocious form of Durgaji. It is said that Parvati removed her pale skin and wore a tiger skin to kill evil Shumbh and Nishumbh. She is the more fearsome embodiment of Shakti, with anger in her three eyes, weapons in her four arms and riding a lion, ensuring that devotees will be protected from any harm.
  • Mahagauri: It is said that Kaalratri took a dip in Ganga water and obtained a warmer complexion depicting positive vibes. She looks extremely beautiful, clad in white clothes, holding a trisula in one hand and a danru in the other. She is said to wash all sins of past, present and future. The day starts with kumara puja and pushpanjali.
  • Siddhidhatri: The ninth night is dedicated to Siddhidhatri, a giver of supernatural power. She is depicted as Mahalakshmi sitting on lotus, with lotus, Sudarshan chakra, a conch shell and a trisula in her four hands. But she is actually Parvatiji. It is also called ‘Ardhanarishvara’, a form of Shiva and Parvatiji, which is half Shiva and half Parvati. Navami is very important and animal sacrifice is also done in some places on this day.

ORIGIN AND SIGNIFIGANCE:

It is said that Mahishasura was granted immortality by Brahmaji with an exception that he could be killed by a woman. Mahishasura, took advantage of this boon and ruled all the three celestial bodies, earth, hell and heaven and no one could defeat him. Thus, Trimurti came together and created Durga to end him. It was a 9 day long battle between Durga and Mahishasura. He kept changing his form, to confuse Durga. But when he turned into a buffalo, Durga killed him with a trisula and the day is called as Mahalaya day and Durga came to be known as Mahishasura Mardini.

CUSTOMS, TRADITIONS AND RITUALS:

Navaratri is uniquely celebrated in almost every state of India. Some common traditions pertaining to Navaratri are:

  • Astra puja is dedicated to worship of weapons.
  • Barley is sown and has a significance of wealth and prosperity.
  • Colour code for all the nine days.
  • Shondi puja is mentioned as the auspicious last 24 minutes of Ashtami tithi.
  • Celebrating nine forms of Maa Durga and her powers.
  • Murti of Durga is set in the house and worshipped in a ritualistic manner.
  • First three days are devoted to Durgaji, her power and wisdom namely Kumari,
    Parvati and Kali.
  • Fourth and sixth day is dedicated to Lakshmiji and Saraswatiji, called as Lalita
  • Bhagwan of Art and intellect is worshipped on the eighth day and Yagna is also observed.
  • Ninth day is for Mata Siddhidatri and then comes the Dussehra.
  • On last ninth day, nine kanyas, who have not attained puberty, are invited, and are
    worshipped as matayein, and treated with yummy delicacies and given gifts.
  • In northern parts of the country, Garba is also performed.

Color representing each day and its significance:

Day 1: Pratipada – Red: Passion and auspiciousness

Day 2: Dwitiya – Royal Blue: Divine energy

Day 3: Tritiya – Yellow: Joy and cheerfulness

Day 4: Chaturthi – Green: Nature and prosperity

Day 5: Panchami – Grey: Destruction of evil

Day 6: Shasti – Orange: Tranquility and knowledge

Day 7: Saptami – White: Peace and purity

Day 8: Ashtami – Pink: Love, feminity and kindness

Day 9: Navmi – Blue: Stability, inspiration, wisdom and health.

One should also ignite ghee jyoti to eliminate negative energies of the house. Before Navaratri, the house is cleaned to welcome Mata rani and fast is observed for all nine days by devotees. Those observing Navaratri vrat, can consume only sattvic food items like potatoes, fariyali atta, fruits, milk, curd. Non-veg food and consumption of roots is strictly prohibited. A person should also have disciplined behaviour. On the last day of Navaratri, havan is performed with members of the family.

PUJA VIDHI AND VRAT KATHA:

Day 1:

The day 1 marks the beginning of the new year as per Hindu Lunar calendar. Ghatasthapana is done on this day. Ghata or Kalash is the place of abode of Maa Durga for these nine days and Ghata Sthapana means, installing the Ghata for Ma to reside. This Kalash is then worshiped for nine nights of Navaratri. The sthapana is done as per the pratipada tithi, which mostly falls in the first three halves of the day. One cannot do Ghatasthapana during Amavasya or night.

After Ghatasthapana, Ma Durga is worshiped as Shailaputri on day 1. Shailaputri puja is done and Ma is believed to bless devotees with success in everything they desire to start.

The day 1 celebrations end with Chandra Darshan, which means offering prayers to the moon. People break their fast only after seeing the moon. Donations of food, vegetables, white cloth, sugar, rice etc are made to Brahmins to please Bhagwan Chandra.

Day 2:

The second day of Navaratri is full of enthusiasm for women as they clad in vibrant traditional attires, apply mehndi and accessorize with heavy jewellery. It is like a celebration of womanhood and is called Sindhara Dooj or Saubhagya Dooj.

Ma Brahmacharini is worshiped on this day. Brahmacharini is believed to be the unmarried manifestation of Parvati. She is the epitome of willpower and determination and blesses devotees with the same. People perform Brahmacharini Puja to offer prayers to Ma and seek her blessings.

Day 3:

The third day is the celebration of marriage between Bhagwan Shiva and Mata Parvati. Gana means Shiva and Gaur means Gauri. Gangaur puja is performed on this day, It is also known as Saubhagya Teej. Women hold fast and pray for the long life of their husbands. In North India, the Gangaur festival is celebrated for 18 days extensively and is culminated by visarjan of Gauri image in a water tank or well.

The third day is dedicated to Ma Chandraghanta by performing the Chandraghanta Puja. Maa Chandraghanta is known to bless devotees with bravery, courage and power. She also relieves her devotees from mental tribulations and physical sufferings.

Day 4:

This day is the celebration of the glory of Varad Vinayak, son of Ma Parvati. This day is celebrated as Chaturthi and people offer prayers to Ganpati in his Varad Vianayaka form. This is called Varad Vinayaka Chauth when Ganpati bestows his devotees with blessings for knowledge and success.

Ma Kushmanda is the fourth avatar of Durga and is worshiped on the fourth day of Navaratri and Kushmanda Puja is performed. She is known to be the creator of the Universe who eliminated darkness and brought light. She is said to control the solar system. Devotees pray to Ma Kushmanda on this day seeking directions and guidance in life and eliminating darkness.

The fourth day is also celebrated as Lakshmi Panchami. The murti of Lakshmi is cleaned with panchamrit and puja is done by offering coconut, flowers, banana leaves, sandalwood, supari, red thread and rice to her. Ma Laksmi is worshiped on this day for wealth and prosperity.

Day 5:

The fifth day of Navaratri is also celebrated as Naag Panchami. Naag Panchami is celebrated because it is on this day that King Janamejaya, the son of King Parikshit and grandson of great warrior Abhimanyu, stopped the Sarpamedha yagna performed to avenge Pariskshit’s death. It was the fifth day of the Lunar calendar. On this day, the murti of Naga is worshiped and offerings of garlands, honey, milk, sesame seeds are made to the murti. People prepare kheer and offer it to snakes by placing them in front of anthills.

Maa Skandamata is revered on the fifth day of Navaratri in Skandamata Puja. This is the mother of Kartikeya who was chief general of the army in the war against asuras. Skandamata is worshiped to attain knowledge as she is said to have the power to instill knowledge even in the illiterate.

Day 6:

The sixth day is the celebration of the birth anniversary of Yamuna, known as Yamuna Chhath. People perform Chhath puja, and those living near river Yamuna, take a dip in the holy water on this day. A strict fast of 24 hours is observed, which is broken only after performing rituals the next morning.

Ma Katyayani is worshiped on this day and devotees inherit inner strength and courage by worshiping this sixth form of Durga, Katyayani. People make offerings of Sandalwood, flowers, incense sticks while performing the Katyayani Puja.

Day 7:

The seventh day is the day of Maha Saptami when devotees worship Goddess Shakti. A sacred meal is prepared and distributed as Prasad to all visitors on Maha Saptami. The Maha Puja begins on this day. Some devotees also worship Ma Saraswati on Maha Saptami.

Kalaratri Puja is performed on the seventh day as it is dedicated to the seventh form of Durga, Kalaratri. She is the ruler of planet Shani. Devotees offer prayers and seek the blessings of Ma Kalaratri to eliminate any negative influence of wrong people and evil forces in their lives. Ma Kalaratri is known to bless devotees with status and power. She is also worshiped by people who want to attain siddhis.

Day 8:

The eighth day is celebrated as Durga Asthmai, a day when massive murtis of Maa Durga are installed in Pandals, homes and offices. The fast or vrat observed on this day, is called durga Ashtami Vrat, and the one who observes this vrat with complete surrender and devotion, is known to be blessed with success and good fortune. Durga Chalisa is recited on this day in remembrance of Maa Durga.

Kanya Pujan is a special feature of this day when young girls who have not reached puberty are offered special bhog comprising of chana, puri and halwa and are paid respect to, by cleansing of feet, by older women, as a reverence of Maa Durga.

Annapurna Ashtami and Sandhi Puja are also performed on this day.

Mahagauri Puja is performed on this day to worship the eighth form of Maa Durga, Mahagauri. Devotees are blessed with serenity and peace. They observe fast and seek the blessings of Mahagauri and some also end their Navaratri fast on this day.

Day 9:

The grand 9 nights long festival culminates on this day and is celebrated as Rama Navami. Lord Rama is believed to have been born in the middle hours of Hindu day and the puja, known as Madhyayan puja is performed during this time only. The vrat on this day is called eight prahar vrat, which means from sunrise to the next sunrise. Fasting that is done without any particular desire in mind is called Naimitikka and the one which is observed with a particular desire in mind is known as Kamya.

The form of Durga worshiped on this day is Siddhidhatri and devotees worship Ma Siddhidhatri to attain siddhis and powers and wisdom.

 

Katha:

Once, there was a Brahmin Sunantha. He was a great devotee of Durga and prayed every day. He had a daughter who was obsessed with her beauty and she could not pay attention to puja, which made her parents angry. To teach her a lesson, parents got her married to a lepor. She had faith in Durga and on the first day of marriage, she went to a jungle and Devi appeared before her. She told the girl that if she succeeded in doing the Navaratri vrat for nine days, her husband would turn into a rich, handsome and healthy man. She did the same and lived the rest of her life with peace and happiness.

CELEBRATIONS ACROSS THE COUNTRY:

Navaratri festival is celebrated in every state of the country by different names and with different customs and flavours. However, the basic reason is the same – Celebrating the victory of good over bad and getting blessings of all the nine forms of Maa Durga.

Navaratri celebration in Gujarat: One of the most awaited festivals of Gujarat, is Navaratri. People keep 9 days fast and, on every evening, an earthen pot with holes and diyas inside called as Garbi is lighted and women dance with it. During Navaratri, Garba and Dandiya raas are the most celebrated dance forms, by both men and women, wearing traditional dresses with dandiyas in hands.

Navaratri celebrations in West Bengal, Odisha, Assam and Bihar: In the eastern parts of India, Navaratri is celebrated on the last four days viz. Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dasami. Durga Puja is the most enthusiastic festival celebrated in these states. Big pandals with murti of Durga sitting on lion, asur Mahishasur, Ganeshji, Lakshmiji and Saraswatiji, are erected. Women and men wear beautiful traditional dresses, especially women wear traditional red sarees. Sounds of dhol, dhak, dhunuchi dance and fragrance of incense fill the aura with purity and freshness. The festival is so grand that it is widely known that Durga puja of West Bengal is a ‘must watch’ event once in a lifetime.

Navaratri celebration in Andhra Pradesh: Kolu celebration of Navaratri in Tamil Nadu, is ‘Batukamma Panduga’, which means, ‘come alive in all Mata forms.’ Women make beautiful flower stack called as Batukamma and adorn beautiful saree and jewellery. They dance in front of Batukamma, for nine days and on the last day, do visarjan of Batukamma in a lake.

Navaratri celebration in Tamil Nadu: Lakshmiji, Durgaji and Saraswatiji are worshipped each for three days. People wear traditional clothes and visit friends, family and relatives, exchange gifts, clothes and sweets. One special feature is Kolu, which is actually a staircase of 9 stairs, with a doll on each stair, representing nine Devis. These dolls are passed on from one generation to the next.

Navaratri celebration in Kerala: In Kerala, it is for the last three days on which Maa Saraswati is worshipped. A book is placed in front of Saraswatiji, on Ashtami and taken out for reading after Navaratri.

Navaratri celebration in Karnataka: Karnataka follows the tradition set by Vijayanagar dynasty in 1610. It is called Naada Habba and the festivities continue for all the 9 days. Processions of elephants and fairs of handicrafts are held.

Navaratri celebration in Maharashtra: Each of the nine days is celebrated with much enthusiasm. Married women invite their female friends for a haldi kumkum ceremony, called ‘Saumangalyam’, which means that the wife remains with husband till death. Women dress in traditional wear and play Garba all the nine nights.

Navaratri celebration in Himachal Pradesh: Navaratri celebration in Himachal Pradesh is a bit different. Here Navaratri is celebrated on the tenth day by the name Kullu Dussehra, in which, murtis of Devi are taken out in procession.

Navaratri celebration in Punjab: In Punjab, people keep fast for seven days and on Ashtami, they invite 9 girls and one boy for prasadi. After serving the kanyas, they end their fast. This ritual is known as Kanjika. Jagratas are quite common in Punjab with mandlis singing bhajans of Mata, throughout the night and keeping the energy high.

BENEFITS OF CELEBRATING THE FESTIVAL:

Celebrating the feminine power, the creator and the mother, brings joy, strength and wisdom. It helps in overcoming all difficulties in life, related to relationships, finances, career or self-growth. It purifies the soul and gives us a chance of redemption.

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