Navratri is the festival of nine (Nav) nights (Ratri) dedicated to Goddess Durga. During these nine days, the Goddess is invoked and worshipped by millions of worshippers and people observe fast and indulge in various festivities. Goddess Durga (Devi) is the Adi shakti and the most prominent Hindu Goddess. She is also fondly called Maa (Mother) as she bestows love and affection on her worshippers like a mother. Navratri festival is celebrated twice a year, once in March-April known as Chaitri Navratri marking the after-autumn harvest or harvesting season and second and more popular one, Sharada Navratri (September-November) followed by Dusshera (the festival of victory of Lord Rama over the Demon king Ravana). The Festival marks the victory of good over evil. The Festival not only is dedicated to Goddess Durga but other deities like Lord Rama, Ganesha, Lord Shiva and Goddess Laksmi and Saraswati are also well-regarded and worshipped.
THE EMERGENCE OF GODDESS DURGA:
As per the legend or Hindu mythology she fought many battles with various demons who were Anti-Gods. They (Mahishasura, Madhu-Kaithab, the evil king Shumbha and Nishumbha) tried to threaten peace and spread Adharma (Evil deeds) by overturning the rule of Indra (the ruler of heaven). The God’s wandered homeless on Earth without any power. They found solace in the Trinity (lord Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma) and prayed them to restore peace and prosperity among heaven and Earth. In their guidance, all the deities concentrated their power on one thing and the power took a shape/form of a woman known as Goddess Durga. They even showered the Goddess with their weapons and various gifts. Goddess Durga chose a lion as her vehicle. Goddess Durga in turn heard the grievances and pain of the Gods and promised them to kill the various demons time and again. She killed the entire army of demons especially the buffalo demon, Mahishasura.
CELEBRATION OF THE NAVRATRI FESTIVAL:
The festival of Navratri is celebrated in all parts of the country (India). In Northern India people conduct special prayers to please the Goddess like Mata Ki Chowki or Jagaran (over-night praying of the Goddess) along with observing fast (absence of grains) during these nine days. They even recite a book called Durga Shapshati, which glorifies the act of the Goddess and how she killed various demons. Even in North- Eastern and Eastern states like West Bengal, it is celebrated with full frill and frolic with beautiful Pandaals (Stage) of the deity being organized. Gujarat state celebrates the festival by offering prayers along with the organization of Dandiya Dance/Garba (Folk Dance done with the help of sticks on devotional songs) and in some parts of the country as Saraswati Puja. On this festival married women and even girls pray to Goddess durga for a good husband or for the longevity of their life. They offer many religious products easily accessible in Navratri Puja Kits like Kumkum, Turmeric, Coconut, Shringaar (beauty products, a symbol of married life), fruits, new clothes, veil (Red Chunri) on Goddess Durga to appease her.
- CHAITRI NAVRATRI- 28 March- 5 April 2017
- SHARADA NAVRATRI- 21 September- 29 September