Every year, Hindus celebrate Navaratri in honor of the goddess Durga, a manifestation of the supreme goddess Adi Parashakti. It takes place twice, once in the months of Chaitra (March/April in the Gregorian calendar) and Ashvin (September–October), spanning nine nights and ten days. Ashwin Shukla Paksha and Chaitra Shukla Paksha both commemorate this event annually. The purpose of the Navratri festival is to honor the nine incarnations of Goddess Durga. In different regions of the Hindu Indian cultural realm, it is observed and celebrated for different reasons.
In Sanskrit, nava means “nine,” and ratri means “nights,” therefore the phrase navaratri, which translates to “nine nights.” Shailputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Mahagauri, and Siddhidatri are the nine incarnations of Goddess Durga.
Different parts of India celebrate this holiday in different ways. This festival is observed by some as the victory of good over evil (Durga’s victory over Mahishasura), and by others as the victory of Lord Rama over the demon Ravana. The majority of North Indians refer to this event, known as Ram Lila, as the triumph of Lord Rama over the demon Ravana through plays and character-based playing. And on the last day, they celebrate by burning the idol of Ravana that has been filled with pyrotechnics and explosives.
The Goddess comes to earth for these nine days to be with her devotees. The three manifestations of the goddess—Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswathi—are called upon throughout this nine-night celebration.
During the festival, Maa Durga is worshipped for 10 days and nine nights in each of Her several incarnations. It is the most auspicious and potent time to pray to Goddess Durga and carry out devotional practices.
This mythical celebration commemorates the triumph of Goddess Durga over the buffalo-headed monster Mahishasura. In terms of chronology, Mahishasura spent a number of years practicing Lord Brahma’s sadhana, which is a rigorous kind of meditation and spiritual discipline. Because of his dedication, Lord Brahma was pleased and bestowed upon him the blessing of immortality; but, he placed a condition on this blessing: only a woman could overcome him. This malevolent monster, endowed with immense immortality, began attacking the Triloka (Earth, Heaven, and Hell).
Since only a woman could vanquish him, he had incited violence throughout the entirety of Triloka, and none of the Gods could resist him. The gods then appealed to Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma, and Lord Vishnu, the trinity of gods, asking them to destroy this demonic creature. Together, the three gods made the decision to unleash a feminine force in order to destroy Mahishasura. Mother Durga (Shakti) became embodied via their united might.
Later, to save the Triloka (earth, heaven, and hell), Goddess Shakti (Durga) engaged the Mahishasura in combat for ten days. Mahishasura had changed into a buffalo on the tenth day. Goddess Durga used her weapon, the Trishul, to assault the evil man and destroy him. Due to this, Dussehra is observed on the tenth day of the Ashvin month.
Nine various incarnations of Shakti are worshipped for nine days during the Navratri season. A distinct Goddess Durga avatar is honored every day.
The nine incarnations of Goddess Durga are as follows:
Day 1: Goddess Shailputri
Pratipada, which is sometimes called the first day, is connected to the Parvati incarnation Shailaputri (“Daughter of Mountain”).
Day 2: Goddess Brahmacharini
Another incarnation of Parvati, Goddess Brahmacharini, is worshipped on Dwitiya (the second day). Parvati took on the shape of Yogini, her single self. Brahmacharini is revered for her ability to grant liberation, or moksha, as well as serenity and prosperity.
Day 3: Goddess Chandraghanta
The third day, Tritiya, honours the worship of Chandraghanta, so called because Parvati wore the ardhachandra (lit. half-moon) on her forehead after marrying Shiva. She is a symbol of bravery and the epitome of beauty. The third day’s color is grey, which is vibrant and uplifts everyone’s spirits.
Day 4: Goddess Kushmanda
On Chaturthi, the fourth day, they worship the goddess Kushmanda. The day is orange because Kushmanda, who is thought to be the universe’s creative force, is connected to the earth’s abundance of flora. She is pictured sitting atop a tiger and has eight arms.
Day 5: Goddess Skandamata
Skanda (or Kartikeya) is the daughter of Skandamata, the goddess worshipped on Panchami (the fifth day). The color white represents a mother’s ability to shift into a stronger person when her child is in danger. She is portrayed as having four arms, carrying her child, and riding a fierce lion.
Day 6: Goddess Katyayani
She is an embodiment of Durga, born to the wise Katyayna, and is depicted as displaying bravery, which is represented by the color red. She is referred to as the warrior goddess and is thought to be one of Devi’s most aggressive incarnations. Katyayani has four hands and is a lion rider in this avatar. She is a manifestation of Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati, and Parvati.
Day 7: Goddess Kaalratri
On Saptami, Kalaratri, the fiercest manifestation of Goddess Durga, is worshipped. Parvati is said to have stripped off her pale skin in order to destroy the demons Sumbha and Nisumbha.
Day 8: Goddess Mahagauri
Mahagauri is a symbol of wisdom and harmony. It is thought that Kaalaratri’s complexion became warmer after bathing in the Ganga river. This is an extremely significant day, recognized as the birthday of Mahishasuramardini rupa of Chandi.
Day 9: Goddess Siddhidatri
People pray to Siddhidhatri on the final day of the festival, which is also known as Navami (the ninth day). She is said to possess and bestow all kinds of Siddhis while perched atop a lotus. She’s got four hands here. Known by another name, Mahalakshmi, today’s purple hue expresses appreciation for the splendor of the natural world. Lord Shiva’s wife Parvati is also known as Siddhidatri.
Ayudha Puja is a rite in which tools and swords are worshipped throughout most of India. On this day, several companies also give their workers a holiday.
How is the Navratri Festival observed?
Different parts of India employ different approaches. Indians devote 10 days of their lives to celebrating Navratri with great fervor and dedication. The majority of people worship the idol of Goddess Durga, fast (eating only fruits and vegetarian cuisine), and engage in other rituals including dandiya and garba. They worship Lord Ganesha to begin the prayer, and then they turn their attention to Goddess Durga Devi. People worship to Goddess Durga Devi in order to receive protection and fortitude to combat difficulties and evil in their lives. In a very few places, some even sacrifice animals as offerings to the Goddess.
The people of Gujarat state take great pleasure in this holiday, which they celebrate in a grand manner. For ten days, people adore Goddess Durga and offer prayers while dressing elegantly in traditional garb. After the prayers, they play Garba and Dandiya, which is played with two sticks in each hand. All things considered, people celebrate this event with fervor and dedication.
During this joyous time, ten days of prayer, meditation, and chanting facilitate soul-to-soul communication and bestow tranquility and optimism onto those who practice them. Let us commemorate each Navratri with fervor, jubilation, and optimism.