Navratri is a sanskrit word which means nine nights. During these days, nine forms of Shakti is worshipped each day. Vow is observed by the devotees to seek for the blessings of Shakti. In order to complete the fast, devotees organize a Kanya Pujan on the last day of Navratri. These days are celebrated by each and every Hindu as these are meant to be very auspicious.
Navratri : Nine Forms Of Goddess Durga
Navratri is one of the most celebrated festivals of our country. Navratri literally means the festival of nine pious nights. Goddess Durga is venerated during these nine days in her three supreme forms.
Goddess Durga embodies the representation of creation, power, and destruction. Her blessings are bestowed on us in the form of Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati on Navratri. In the first three days of Navratri, the Goddess is venerated as Durga, the following three days, Lakshmi is worshiped and the concluding days are dedicated to Saraswati.
Navratri : The 5 Navratras
There are five kinds of Navaratri. They can be categorized as:
- Vasant Navratri (Chaitra Navratri) : Vasanta Navratri will start from March 28 and will end on April 5, 2017
- Ashadh Navratri (Gupt Navratri) : Gupt Navratri will start from June 24 and will end till July 3, 2017.
- Sharad Navratri : Sharad Navratri will start from September 21 and last till September 30, 2017.
- Paush Navratri : Paush Navratri will be observed from December 26, 2017 to January 2, 2018.
- Magha Navratri : Magha Navratri dates are from January 28 to February 6, 2017)
Ghatasthapana invokes the coming of Goddess Durga; therefore, special care is taken while performing the ritual. Ghatasthapana is prohibited during Amavasya and dark light. The same is going to be followed in Navratri 2017. It is believed that if such meticulous care is not taken, it would bring the wrath of Goddess Durga.
Navaratri is the longest Hindu festival where each of its nine days holds its own significance. Navratri commences with Pratipada and ends with Navami. Vijayadashami is the tenth day of Navratri festival that symbolizes the winning of purity over evil.
Let’s give you the aroma of the Navratri mood beginning with the importance of each day of the festival.
First Day(Pratipada): Worship Goddess Shailputri
The first day of Navaratri is also known as Pratipada. On Pratipada, Goddess Durga is worshiped as Shailputri. ‘Shail’ means mountains while the literal meaning of ‘Putri’ is daughter. The Goddess is the embodiment of Goddess Durga and is believed to possess the powers of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. As per the tradition, it is auspicious to wear red clothes on the first day of Navratri festival. The Goddess is also known as Parvati, Sati Bhavani or Hemavati.
Second Day(Dwitiya): Worship Goddess Brahmacharini
This is the second day of Navratri where Goddess Durga is worshiped in the form of Brahmacharini. The name of the Goddess means as the one who follows pious strictness.
The form of Goddess Parvati grants prosperity and emancipation. It is a custom to wear blue clothes on the second and the third day of the Navratri festival.
Third Day(Tritiya): Worship Goddess Chandraghanta
Chandraghanta is worshiped on Tritiya of of Navratri. The name Chandraghanta refers to the half moon on the forehead of Goddess Durga or Chandraghanta in the shape of a bell (ghanta).
She stands for courage and valour that is essential to fight the evil.
The third day of Navratri exhibits to characteristics of bravery and courage of Goddess Durga.
Fourth Day(Chaturthi): Worship Goddess Kushmanda
On the fourth day of Navratri, Goddess is worshiped in the form of Kushmanda. It is believed to that the universe got created by the Goddess as she laughed.
It is depicted to have 8 to 10 hands. Devouts wear yellow clothes on this day of Navratri.
Fifth Day(Panchami): Worship Goddess Skandamata
The fifth day of Navratri is known as Panchami. The fifth day owes to Skandamata which means mother of Kartikeya, who is also known as Skanda. Kartikeya led the army of angels and fought the demons. Skandamata is depicted holding an infant Kartikeya.
It is customary to wear green shaded clothes on the fifth day of Navratri.
Sixth Day(Shashthi): Worship Goddess Katyayani
Goddess is venerated as Katyayani on the sixth day of the Navratri festival. According to Hindu mythology, venerated Kata performed several austerities to accept the Goddess in the form of a daughter. Impressed with the devotion, the Goddess accepted his boon.
The child born to Kata came to be known as Katyayani. Goddess Katyayani Devi is worshiped on sixth day of Navratri.
Seventh Day(Saptami): Worship Goddess Kalratri
The seventh day of Navratri venerates Goddess in the form of Kalratri, meaning a black, dark night.
Literal to its meaning, the Goddess is depicted having dark complexion with an aggressive posture. She symbolizes protection from all kinds of troubles. The Goddess is seen riding over a donkey.
Kalratri is also known as Subhankari. Orange is the colour for Saptami of Navratri.
Eighth Day(Ashtami): Worship Goddess Maha Gauri
This day symbolizes serenity and beauty when the Goddess is worshiped as Maha Gauri. Maha Gauri is depicted as being extremely beautiful, white as snow who marks to wash away sins through her purity. It is said that due to severe chastenesses, the Goddess had gained dark complexion. Lord Shiva helped her to regain her beauty once he washed her with the sacred water of the Ganges. Her replenished form attained the name- Maha Gauri.White is the customary colour of the eighth day of Navratri.
Ninth Day(Navami): Worship Goddess Siddhidatri
On ninth day, Siddhidatri is venerated. Siddhidatri embodies all the eight Siddhis. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva worshiped Siddhidatri and was bestowed with all the siddhis.
Lord Shiva came to be known as Ardhanarishvara. Devotees wear pink color on the ninth and the last day of the festival.
The last day of Navratri is followed by Vijayadashami.
The tenth day of the Navratri ultimately symbolizes the good destroying the evil. It is popularly celebrated as Vijayadashami where idols of Ravana, the demon king is burnt in many parts of India, whereas, in some places processions take place that include elephants and pious people.
After being familiar with each day of the Navratri festival, one would be eager to know the historical significance behind its celebration. Let’s discuss the mythological evidences for celebrating the Navratri festival.
Mythological Evidences For Navratri Celebration
According to legends, Mahishasura- a worshipper of Lord Shiva had grown into an spiteful demon and started on a spree to kill innocent people. To stop his malevolent activities to take over the three Lokas or realms, Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesha of Hindu trinity united their powers to form the supreme- Goddess Durga.
She entered into a war with Mahishasura that lasted for the period of nine days and on the tenth day, Goddess Durga ended the war by beheading the demon, Mahishasura. These nine days to save the universe from destruction signify the Navratri festival.
As per Hindu mythology, there is another legend attached to Navaratri. It is believed that Lord Rama venerated Goddess Durga for nine days to attain the power to vanquish Ravana. On the tenth day, Lord Rama killed Ravana that came to be known as Vijayadashami or Dussehra, when idols of Ravana are burnt in most parts of our country.
It is not surprising in the Hindu mythology when one finds vivid evidences related to the same incident. Same is the case with Navratri. Apart from the legends already described, there is one more history behind the celebration of the festival. As per Hindu mythology, Uma-daughter of King Daksha, ruler of Himalayas, married Lord Shiva against the will of her father. In response, King Daksha arranged a Yagna to avenge Lord Shiva. When his daughter, Uma visited him to take part in the Yoga, Lord Shiva was intentionally offended by the king.
Unable to bear the insult of her husband, Uma jumped into the Agni Kund, which is why she came to be known as Sati. In her rebirth, she married Lord Shiva and made peace with her parents. It is said that resurrected Sati visits her parents and stays there for a period of nine days which corresponds with the nine days of the Navratri festival.
After going in-depth into the history of Navratri, how would it be to know more about the celebration mannerisms of Navratri? Let’s take a look at the ways Navratri festival is celebrated in different parts of India.
Nine patterns of Navratri
The people from Punjab perform fasts to show their devout austerity to Goddess Durga- the symbol of Shakti or power. The fast is performed for the first seven days, which breaks on the eighth day of Navratri by organizing a Bhandara or feast for nine young girls known as Kanjak. They are also gifted red Chunris or Dupattas. A Jagrata is another special feature to them, where devotional songs are sung in the honor of Goddess and keep awake the whole night.
It is actually the most important festival for the Himachal Hindus. The tenth day of the festival is popularly known as Kullu Dussehra in Himachal Pradesh. While Navratri festivity ends everywhere on the tenth day, it marks the beginning of the festival in this state. People gather together in a pompous mood, marking the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after killing the demon, Ravana. On Dussehra, the deities from temples are taken out to roads in processions.
Gujarat is the centroid of the most vibrant Navratri celebration. A clay pot known as Garbha or womb is the source of life on earth. Women dance around the water-filled Garbha wearing vibrant costumes. This dance is also termed as Garbha that derives its name from the iconic claypot. Dandiya Raas is another contemporary attraction of the festival where people dance in coordination with each other. In Dandiya Raas event, sticks of equal length are used for the dance. Overall, the festive mood in Gujarat is a colourful affair.
Maharashtra regards Navratri as a good time to initiate things. Some prefer to buy a car, or even venture into the investing arena. The Maharashtrians find it to be an auspicious time. Married women exchange the gesture of ‘Sau Mangalyam’ by putting Haldi and Kumkum onto their foreheads. Because of Maharashtra’s proximity to Gujarat, both the states bear resemblance in its festive celebration. Each family in the two states get drenched in the mood of joy and celebration.
In West Bengal, Navratri has its synonym as Durga Puja. Durga Puja is considered to be the most joyous and important festival for the Bengalis. It is celebrated with a great pomp and lavishness. This is a temporal sight when the festival begins from the sixth day of Navratri – Shashthi. Maa Durga is welcomed to her maternal home from the heavens. Idols of Goddess Durga along with her children-Kartik, Ganesh, Lakshmi and Saraswati are sculpted in the Durga Puja. The festival becomes worth considering if one talks about Navratri.
The celebrations in Karnataka dates back to the era of Raja Wodeyar. Although, the purpose of celebration is the same i.e. triumph of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura-the resident of Mysore, the celebration is done according to the traditions of the Vijaynagar empire of 17th century. Processions of elephants are taken to roads. Exhibition of craft artefacts are an important feature of the Carnatic Navratri.
Kerala celebrates the last three days of Navratri i.e. Ashtami, Navami and Vijaya Dashami. Being the most literate state in the country, this states the reason behind its literacy (piously). Since, Goddess Saraswati is worshiped during the last three days, they firmly believe that Saraswati Mata will grant them the wisdom of learning and knowledge.
They place the books and musical instruments in front of the Goddess on Ashtami. They pray the Goddess for granting them knowledge and education. On Vijaya Dashami, they take the books out for learning.
The Dravidian state devotes the nine days of Navratri to Goddess Durga, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati. Women belonging to the Iyer community invite their married female acquaintances and gift them symbols of marital goodwill- bangles, earrings etc. A special dish ‘Sundal’ is prepared of lentil seeds and pulses for the guests. Some people also creates a special makeshift staircase ‘Golu’ that consists of nine steps symbolizing the nine days of Navratri. Idols of Gods and Goddesses are placed on the stairs that are handed over from generation to generation.
Navratri is celebrated as ‘Bathukamma Panduga’ in Andhra Pradesh. Bathukamma Panduga literally means ‘Come Alive Mother’. The term celebrates universal motherhood. Women prepare ‘Bathuka’ which is a beautiful stack of seasonal flowers which often appear like a pot. They have the ritual to position themselves in the centre and sing songs dedicated to Goddess Shakti. After performing the ritual, they float away the Bathukkas in lake water.
Navratri is the festival that represents the omnipotent motherhood. It takes the form of Maha Gauri, Goddess Durga or Katyayani Maa. Be it in any form, the festival signifies the triumph of good over evil through the hands of the supreme mother.
The nine days is a period to celebrate purity and goodness. To know more about the spiritual proceedings of Navratri, click here.
The Goddess is always present within us to enlighten.