The name NAVRATRI is self described as a NAV and RATRA, Nav means Nine and Ratra means Night. i.e. 9 days dedicated to divine power Maa Durga , Maha-Laxmi , Maha-Saraswati and Maha-Kali. There are 5 Navratra’s in the whole year. Mainly three Navratri’s are celebrating in various parts of the country. They are Sharad Navratri, Vasant Navratri and Ashada Navratri. Hinduism is the only religion in the world which has emphasized to such an extent the motherhood of God. To celebrate a good harvest and to propitiate the nine planets, women also plant nine different kinds of food grain seeds in small containers during these nine days.
No other major religion of the world acknowledges God as part female, or is willing to fully depict her as the Goddess. But in Hinduism, the Goddess it self called Shakti, is the emanating power, the essence and the creative manifestation of the Supreme Being, who is beyond opposites. Shakti is the original power at the root of creation, limitless expansion and expressions of Nature. It is also referred to as the Âdi Shakti or Brahmm Shakti. All the visible and invisible plays of Nature are reflections of this eternal Shakti. All powers originate from it; all existence emerges from it. She is who enables the creation, growth and protection of the universe. She is the Mother of Trinity- Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. The Skanda Purana describes this fact in a telling manner– Lord Shiva without Shakti is like a shava (a corpse); Lord Shiva is "Shiva" because of the presence of Shakti in Him.
This unique broadness of Hinduism makes Navratri the world's greatest festival dedicated to the Goddess Durga . This yearly festival is celebrated for nine or ten days in diff months of the whole year. Hindus observe this festival in a wide variety of ways, depending on their region, local history and family influences. The nine-day period of Navratri is of supreme importance for physical, mental and spiritual health as it lies at the juncture of two seasons.
Brief description of five Navratrie’s of the Year.
1. Chaitra Navratri, Vasanta Navratri or Ram Navratri -:
Chaitra Navratri Is also called vasant Navratri or Ram Navratri, falls in the month of Chaitra (March) each year. is the festival of nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the spring season. Chaitra Navratri signifies the start of “VIKRAM SAMBAT” i.e the Hindu New Year. The 1st day is called a GUDI PADAWA which mainely celebrates at Maharastra state. Even it is celebrated all over India with full dedication, enthusiasm. This is one of the most auspicious occasions for Hindus and conveys pure happiness.
2. Ashada Navratri -:
Ashada Navratri, also referred as Gupta or Gayatri or Shakambari Navratri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Ashada (June – July). Gupta Navratri is observed during the Ashada Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon). Shak means Vegetable . this navratri also dedicated to Devi Shakambhari who is worship as a leafy Vegetable.
3. Sharad Navratri - :
This is the most important navratri among all the 5 navratri of the year Falls in Sharad season ( Oct –Nov) and is simply called Maha Navratri (the Great Navratri) and is celebrated in the month of Ashivina as per hindu calendar. Sharad Navratri celebrated all parts of the India on very big scale including Gujrat and West - Bengal
4. Poushya Navratri -:
Poushya Navratri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Poushya (Dec – Jan). Poushya Navratri is observed during the Poushya Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon).
5. Magha Navratri -:
Magha Navratri, also referred as is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Magha (Jan – Feb). Magha Navratri is observed during the Magha Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon).
Navratri is celebrated in different ways throughout India.
In north India people observe the Navratras, when they undertake fasts for a period of nine days. The devotees break their fast on the ninth day and invite young girl’s home, treating the girls as manifestations of Durga Maa herself. These girls, called "Kanjak Devis", are offered the traditional food of "Puri", "Halwa" and "Chana". They are then offered red bangles and chunnis (veils) to wear, along with some money, known as "Shagun". In most of India and especially in the North, Ram Lila and Navratri celebrations are not entirely separate. In the Ramayana, Rama invokes the help of Durga in his battle against Ravana, so many understand that the Goddess is being honored in gratitude during this celebration of the incarnation of Vishnu. It is not uncommon for home shrines to honor the Goddess along with Rama or even Krishna during ri. Temples dedicated to Shakti also make arrangement for pujas and vratasNavrat to mark these nine days as true symbols of devotion and adoration towards the divine mother During the nine days of Navratri, feasting and fasting take precedence over all normal daily activities amongst the Hindus.People keep fasts, go to temples, and sing devotional prayers during these nine days. In homes people place the images of goddess Durga and worship her by singing devotional songs and bhajans. Most of the people visit temples that are beautifully decorated with lights and flowers. Navratri or Navadurga Parva happens to be the most auspicious and unique period of devotional sadhanas and worship of Shakti,the sublime, ultimate, absolute creative energy of the Divine conceptualized as the Mother Goddess–Durga, whose worship dates back to prehistoric times before the period of Vedic age
In the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, it is celebrated by setting up of Golu pronounced as Golu or Kolu. It is believed that this was a means to invite people home to celebrate the festivities with them. In Karanataka, particularly Mysore on the 10th day the enacting of destruction of evil (Ravana destroyed by Rama) is displayed with the lighting of dolls representing Ravana and forces of evil.
Celebration of the Navratri in Western part of the India uniq then the another part of the India. The most important feature of the Navratri here is the Dandiya Raas, also known as Garba. Garba is the traditional folk dance of Gujarat, but it has now become popular all over the country, with many Raas Pandals being set up in many parts of the country, during Navratri.
An ornamented pot is placed in the centre, with a bright diya (lamp) kept inside it. Womenfolk dance around it in a circle, singing traditional garba songs. Mother Durga, who is referred to "Ambe Maa", is worshipped for joy, prosperity and happiness.
The Dandiya Raas is a vibrant, joyous dance that is played with dandiyas or wooden sticks. The dancers, both male and female, dress up in colourful traditional costumes and spin around forming patterns, while also dancing to the rhythm of the music. While the men wear churidar-kurtas or the traditional Gujarati apparel, the women wear colourfully embroidered, mirror-work ghagra-cholis (flare-skirt-and-blouse sets).
The Durga Puja is one of the biggest festivals in Esatern part of India. Those living in Eastern India believe in Ma Shakti as the Ultimate Supreme Being. Devotees conduct the Durga Puja during this time - a festival that is famous all over the world for its sheer grandeur. Beautifully crafted larger-than-life clay idols of Goddess Durga, killing the demon Mahisha, are set up in equally huge public pandals, temples and so on. Various pujas and cultural programmes, including dance and music shows, are performed during this period. These Durga idols are worshipped for five days and then immersed in the river on the fifth day.
It is a festival that brings crowds of devotees and tourists from many parts of India and abroad. Huge idols of the Devi are worshipped through the ten days and different manifestations of the Devi are worshipped each night. The Durga pandals are decorated brightly and the Devi herself is adorned with the finest silks and jewellery. Prayers, bhajans (singing of hyms) and homas (fire rituals) are conducted, after which there is also the Annadaan (mass feeding).
Vedic Existance of Navratri
A whole chapter in the tenth mandal of the holy Rigveda deals with the devotional sadhanas of Shakti. The "Devi Sukta" and "Usha Sukta" of the Rigveda and "Ratri Sukta" of the Samveda similarly sing paeans of praise of sadhanas of Shakti.
Before the beginning of the Mahabharat war, Lord Krishna had worshipped Durga – the Goddess of Shakti– for the victory of the Pandvas.
You will find in the Devi Sukta of the Rig Veda Samhita that Vak, symbolising speech, the daughter of the sage Anbhirna, realised her identity with the Divine Mother, the Power of the Supreme Lord, which manifests throughout the universe among the gods, among men and beasts and among the creatures of the deep ocean.
In the Kena Upanishad, you will find that the Divine Mother shed wisdom on Indra and the gods and said that the gods were able to defeat the demons only with the help of the power of the Supreme Lord.
The worship of Devi, the universal Mother, leads to the attainment of knowledge of the Self. The story in the Kena Upanishad known as the "Yaksha Prasna", supports this view. It tells how Uma, the Divine Mother, taught the Truth to the gods. Goddess Shakti thus sheds wisdom on Her devotees.
The original or Adi Shakti is beyond human comprehension. Bhagavan Krishna says in the Gita: "This is only My lower nature. Beyond this is My higher nature, the life-principle which sustains the universe".
The Upanishad also says: "The supreme power of God is manifested in various ways. This power is of the nature of God, manifesting as knowledge, strength and activity".
Truly speaking, all beings in the universe are Shakti-worshippers, whether they are aware of it or not, for there is no one who does not love and long for power in some form or other. Physicists and scientists have now proved that everything is pure, imperishable energy. This energy is only a form of divine Shakti which exists in every form.
Lord Brahma is cited in the Markandey Purana as mentioning to Rishi Markandey that the first incarnation of Shakti was as Shailputri. Other incarnations of the Divine Mother are: Brahmcharñi, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri in that order. These nine manifestations of Shakti, are worshipped as "Nava-Durga". The fifth chapter of the Rudra Sanhita of Shiva Purana also vividly describes the various Divine Emanations of Durga.
Nine Form of Durga During Navratri :
- Shailputri Devi
- Bhramcharini Devi
- Chandraghanta Devi
- Kushmanda Devi
- Skandmata Devi
- Kaatyayani Devi
- Kaalratri Devi
- Mahagauri Devi
- Siddhiratri Devi