Navaratri is the very auspicious Hindu festival celebrated to worship energy form of universal mother, Devi or Durga. The meaning of Nava+ratri is 9 nights in Sanskrit.
The universe has been created with the combination of ‘Purusha’ and ‘Prakriti / Shakti’. Purusha is the pure consciousness and Prakriti here means energy, power, movement. Purusha and Prakriti are male and female forms. When these two combine, the creation arise. The Navaratri is celebrated worshiping this Shakti or Prakriti form. Female are given high importance in Hindu tradition.
The nine day festival is divided into 3 parts. During nine days, three forms of Goddess Durga are invoked. First three days are worshipped Goddess Durga, for protection, next three days are worshipped Goddess Lakshmi, for prosperity and last three days to Goddess Saraswati, for knowledge and wisdom. When all three manifests, it is called Adi Shakti or trinity of Goddess. The three forms also represents trigunas or three gunas namely Satvik, Rajasik and Tamasic. When we balance the three gunas, the life will become complete. All the three gunas are essential with certain balance. First three days are dedicated to balance tamasic part which is represented by Goddess Durga, next for Rajasic represented by Goddess Lakshmi and last three days for Satwik guna represented by Goddess Saraswati. The symbolism behind this is that our consciousness should evolve from tamas to satvic which is ignorance to awakening. When we balance the three qualities, then ultimate divinity sprouts within us.
Different Navarathris in a year
There are four times in a year Narvaratri is celebrated. They are:
- Vasanta Navratri which is observed in the month of Chaitra (March-April)
- Ashadha Navratri which is observed in the month of Asadha (June-July)
- Sharad Navaratri (Sharannavaratri) in the month of Ashvin (Sep-Oct), It is also known as Maha Navratri
- Magh Navratri which is observed during Dec-Jan
Among these, Sharad Navratri and Vasanta Navratri are celebrated mostly. Among these Sharad Navaratri is celebrated across India with much pomp and festivities.
Nine forms of Goddess
Nine days in Navaratri are dedicated to worship nine different forms of Goddess Durga. Lord Brahma in Markandey Puran states that the Goddess Durga has nine incarnations of her. The Navaratri festival is held to celebrate nine manifestation of Goddess Durga. They are: Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayini, Kaalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri.
Day One – First day is celebrated to worship the form of Shailaputri, the daughter of Himalaya (mountain), the consort of Lord Shiva. She symbolises the begining or awakening.
Day Two – Second day is dedicated to Brahmacharini. means one who does meditation and follow celibacy. She symbolized purity.
Day three – On third day of Navratri, the third form of Shakti, Chandraghanta is worshipped. She represents courage, bravery and taming of ego.
Day four – On fourth day, worship to be done to Kushmanda, the fourth incarnation. She blesses material happiness.
Day five – Fifth day is dedicated in worshipping Skandamata, the fifth form of Goddess Durga. She blesses with power and transformation.
Day Six – Sixth day is dedicated to worship Goddess Katyayini. She symbolizes mastering one’s emotions
Day seven – On seventh day, the seventh form of Goddess, Kaalratri is worshipped. She symbolizes removing ignorance and illusions.
Day eight – On this day, eighth form Mahagauri is worshipped. She represents peace and compassion.
Day Nine – Ninth day is dedicated to ninth form of Goddess Shakti, Siddhidatri. She blessess with knowledge and wisdom.
What to do during Navratri?
Navratri is very auspicious time. During this time try to keep your thoughts and actions sacred. The nine days should be dedicated to Sadhana, Seva, Satsang.
Have bath very early in the morning
Either you can go to temple or do the puja yourself
Keep an idol or photo of Goddess Durga in puja room
Light a lamp (Jyoti or Deep). If possible light the deep throughout Navratri
Burn a incense stick and offer flowers to Goddess
Recite Mantras for Goddess morning and evening For example, Lalitha Sahasranama
If possible prepare some sweat and offer to Goddess. Then distribute the ‘Prasad’ to everyone
It is believed that worshipping young girls (less than 9 years of age) is very auspicious. Gift some red dress to any young girls
Avoid Non-vegetarian food during these days