Navratri Festival in which Goddess Durga is worshipped. In sanskrit, the word Navratri means “Nav means Nine and ratri means Nights”, i.e Navratri means festival of nine days and ten days. During these nine nights and ten days, nine different forms of Devi are worshipped and each form has it’s own significance.
The tenth day is commonly known as Vijayadashami or Dussehra. Navratri is majorly celebrated in India and in Nepal. Navratri is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm in Gujrat(India) by performing Garba. People greet each other with Happy Navratri wishes.
Navaratri represents a celebration of the Goddess Amba, (the Power). Navaratri or Navadurga Parva happens to be the most auspicious and unique period of devotional sadhanas and worship of Shakti of the Divine conceptualized as the Mother Goddess-Durga.
Though there are in total five types of Navaratri that come in a year, Sharad Navaratri is the most popular one and the rest are Vasanta Navaratri, Ashadha Navaratri, the Paush/Magha Navaratri and the Magha Navaratri.
- Vasanta Navaratri : Vasanta Navaratri, it’s nine days are dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Chaitra (March–April) and is observed during the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon) of Chaitra. The beginning of this Navaratri also marks the start of the new year as per the Hindu mythological lunar calendar (Vikrami Samvat).
- Ashad Navaratri : Ashad Navaratri, also referred to as Gupta, Gayatri or Shakambhari Navaratri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Ashadha (June–July). It is observed during the Ashadha Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon). This is mostly observed by shaktas only.
- Sharad Navaratri : This is the most important of the Navaratris. It is simply called Maha Navaratri (the Great Navaratri) and is celebrated in the ‘pratipada’ (first day) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvin. Also known as Sharad Navaratri, as it is celebrated during Sharad (beginning of winter, September–October).
- Pausha Navaratri : Paush Navaratri is observed during the Pausha Shukla Paksha, the waxing phase of moon, in the month of December–January.
- Magha Navaratri : The Magha Navaratri is also a kind of Gupta Navaratri. The waxing phase of moon in January–February marks the beginning of Magha Navaratri.
In the east, Navratri festival is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’. It celebrates because Mahishasura wanted to marry Goddess Durga as he was fascinated by her beauty. Durga agreed on the condition that he defeats her in battle first. The battle went on for nine days and nine nights. On the tenth day, Durga emerged victorious as she killed the evil, buffalo-headed demon.
In North, Navratri festival is celebrated to mark the nine-day long fight between Lord Ram and his enemy Ravana and then finally on the tenth day Lord Ram killed Ravana and thus it is then celebrated as Vijayadashami or Dussehra. Victory of Lord Ram over Ravana who had ten faces.
According to the legend, it is also said that Shiva gave permission to Durga to see her mother for nine days in the year and that’s why the festival of Navratri is celebrated happily to welcome Goddess Durga to her home. Lastly on the tenth day Goddess Durga goes back with Shiva.
9 different forms of Durga
- Shailputri – Shailputri is the first form among Navadurga and is worshipped on the first day of Navratri Celebrations. Shailputri is the daughter of Himalaya and was born in the house of King of Mountains “Parvat Raj Himalaya”, so she is called “Shailaputri” means the daughter of mountain. Shailaputri has a half moon in her forehead & she is holding a trident in her right hand & lotus flower in her left hand. she rides on mount Nandi (bull).
- Brahmacharini – The second name of Goddess Durga is Brahmacharini and is worshipped on the second day of Navratri Festival. The goddess Brahmacharini wears white clothes, holds a japa mala (rosary) in her right hand and Kamandal (a water utensil) in her left hand.
- Chandraghanta – Chandraghanta means, “one who has a half moon shaped like a bell”. Chandraghanta is also known as Chandrakhanda, Chandika or Rannchandi. Chandraghanta is worshipped on the third day of Navratri Festival. With the blessing of Chandraghanta all the sins, distresses, physical sufferings, mental tribulations and ghostly hurdles of the devotees are eradicated.
- Kushmanda – Kushmanda is the fourth form of Hindu Goddess Durga. The name Kushmanda signifies – Ku means “a little”, Ushma means “warmth” or “energy” and Anda means “cosmic egg”. It is believed that she has created the universe with her smile. Kushmanda is worshipped on the fourth day of the festival of Navratri. She bestows health, wealth and strength to her worshippers. Kushmanda has eight hands holding a discus, sword, hook, mace, bow, arrow and two jars of honey and blood. She rides on a tiger or lion.
- Skandamata – The name Skandamata comes from the word, Skanda which is another name for war god Kartikeya Mata means Mother. Shandamata is fifth from the Navadurga and is worshipped on the fifth day of Navratri. Skandamata has four hands and she rides on a lion and Lord Skanda can be seen in her lap.
- Katyayini – Katyayini is the second name given for Parvati in Amarakosha. In Skanda Purana it is written that she is being created out of the spontaneous anger of Gods, which eventually led to killing the demon, Mahishasura. She is first mentioned in the Taittiriya Aranyaka part of the Yajurveda. Katyayini is the sixth form of Navdurga and is worshipped on the sixth day of Navratri.
- Kaalratri – Kaalratri is the seventh among Navdurga and is worshipped on the seventh day of Navratri. Kaalratri is widely regarded as one of the many destructive forms of Mother Goddess – Kali, Mahakali, Bhadrakali, Bhairavi, Mrityu, Rudrani, Chamunda, Chandi and Durga.
- Mahagauri – According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Mahagauri has the power to fulfill all the desires of her devotees. Mahagauri is worshipped on the eighth day of Navratri Festival.
- Siddhidatri – Siddhidatri means : Siddhi means supernatural power or meditative ability and datri means giver. Siddhidatri is the ninth form of Navdurga and is worshipped on the ninth day of Navratri. In this form Durga removes ignorance and she provides the knowledge.