India is a land of festivals and celebrations. Each Indian festival has its own significance behind its celebration. Navaratri is dedicated to the worship of Goddess Durga; one of the most important Hindu festivals is celebrated with great reverence and faith across the country. It stretches over a period of nine days, with each of the nine days being dedicated to one of the nine forms of the Shakti of Goddess Durga.
In India, the divine feminine is referred to as Goddess/Shakti. Shakti is an energy, awareness or realization of human which is neither created nor destroyed. Shakti is the energy of the Lord. Without the divine Shakti, even Brahma, Vishnu & Shiva is also powerless. To save the universe from demons and destruction Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva of Hindu trinity united their powers to manifest the supreme Shakti - Goddess Durga.
Hence Goddess Durga is the personification of Universal mother who with her Energy & Power protects the whole earth from evils & destruction.
The nine days of Navaratri is an auspicious time to perform and observe spiritual practices for awakening of Shakti.
Navaratri is observed to welcome Goddess Durga and worship her nine different forms.
When is it observed?
Though Navaratri is the very auspicious and longest Hindu festival where each of its nine days holds its own significance but when it falls on Hasta Nakshtra it becomes much more important & favourable.
As in 2014, Navaratri begins on Hasta Nakshtra, hence it becomes very fortunate to request the Mother for prosperity, wealth and success.
Navaratri 2014 commences with Pratipada and ends with Navami. Vijayadashami is the tenth day of Navaratri 2014 festival that symbolizes the winning of purity over evil.
This year Navaratri will be celebrated from 25th September 2014 to 3rd October 2014 on bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashwin.
The dates of Navaratri are dependent on the lunar calendar and hence keep changing every year.
Navaratri is also known as Maha-Navaratri or Sharad Navaratri & are considered as most auspicious period to perform devotional sadhanas & tantrik pooja too.
In her nine manifestations during the nine days of Navaratri, Ma Shakti is worshipped as Shailputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skanda Mata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Maha Gauri and Siddhidatri.
Below are the given dates to celebrate Ambe Maa each day in her different forms in Navaratri:
25thSeptember- Pratipada- Ghatasthapana- Shailputri Pooja
26th September-Dwitiya- Chandra Darshan- Brahmacharini Pooja
27th September-Tritiya- Sindoor Tritiya- Chandraghanta Pooja
28th September- Chaturthi- Varad Vinayak Chaturthi - Kushmanda Pooja
29th September- Panchami- Lalitha Panchami- Skandamata Pooja
30th September- Shashthi- Katyayani Pooja
1st October- Saptami- Saraswati Awahan- Kalaratri Pooja
2nd October- Ashtami- Durga Ashtami- Mahagauri Pooja, Saraswati Pooja, Sandhi Pooja
3rd October- Navami- Sharad Navaratri, Siddhidatri Pooja- Ram Navaratri, Ayudha Pooja
And Dashami- Durga Visarjan- Vijayadashami, Dussehra
Navaratri is a Hindu festival to worship Goddess Shakti. The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit; Nav meaning Nine and Ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi-Trinity of God worshipped in a female form.
Hindu community worship Durga as goddess of energy (power) who removes the miseries from one's life. Durga is wife of Lord Shiva in form of Parvati.
Nav means nine, it also means New. The nine nights of navaratri are celebrated to revive and to renew the inner wisdom of our lives.
Goddess Durga symbolizes the representation of creation, power, and destruction. In the first three days of Navaratri, the Goddess is worshipped as Durga (destruction), the next three days is worshipped Lakshmi (Power) and the last three days are dedicated to Saraswati (Creation).
Durga the Mother Divine is riding on a Lion. The lion is of great significance here - it's brave, ferocious and remains as defence not offense. Saraswati sits on a rock, meaning that Knowledge once acquired will always be with you, it's as firm as a rock, unshakable. Laxmi on a lotus floating on water mean the wealth is tenuous, could sink any time. If you have the Knowledge, wealth will come - sooner or later.
Why do we celebrate Navaratri?
According to legends, Mahishasura- a worshipper of Lord Shiva had grown into a malicious demon and started on a binge to kill innocent people. To stop his vindictive activities to take over the three Lokas or realms, Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesha of Hindu trinity united their powers to manifest the supreme Shakti - 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 Navaratri festival.
As per Hindu mythology, there is another legend attached to Navaratri. It is believed that Lord Rama worshiped 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 effigy of Ravana is burnt in most parts of our country.
From the Vedic age worshiping the Goddess Durga is in practice.
The "Devi Sukta" and "Isha Sukta" of the Rigveda and "Ratri Sukta" of the Samveda similarly sing paeans of praise of sadhanas of Shakti. In fact, before the beginning of the legendary war between the Kauravas and Pandavas in the Mahabharata – a foundational Sanskrit epic in the Hindu tradition – Lord Krishna worshipped Durga, the Goddess of Shakti, for the victory of the Pandavas.
Lord Brahma is cited in the Markandey Purana as mentioning to Rishi Markandey that the first incarnation of Shakti was as Shailputri. Further 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.
Since the Vedic Age of the Rishies, the devotional practices recommended during Navaratri are primarily those of Gayatri Anushthana.
As guided by the rishis, specific sadhanas and upasanas of the Gayatri Mantra were sincerely practiced during the festival period of Navaratri by every aspirant of spiritual enlightenment.
Navaratri is celebrated five times a year. They are
1. Vasanta Navaratri
2. Ashadha Navaratri
3. Sharad Navaratri
4. Shakambari Navaratri
5. Paush/Magha Navaratri
Of these, the Sharad Navaratri of the month of Ashwin and the Vasanta Navaratri of the Vasanta kala are the most important.
Vasanta Navaratri also known as Basanta Navaratri, Chaitra Navratras or Raama Navaratri. It is celebrated in the month of March or April every year. It ends on the 9th and final day is celebrated as Ram Navami.
Sharada Navaratri also known as Maha Navaratri or Shaaradiya Navaratri. It is celebrated in the months of September or October every year. The 10th day after the 9 nights is celebrated as Vijayadashmi - the celebration of good over evil. It is also called Dussehra.
To invoke the Goddess Durga on first day of Navaratri, a Kalash symbolising Goddess Durga-the Universe, is installed in centre of a small circular sand block, surrounding which is seeded with barley or wheat grains.
This is called "Ghatasthapana". A lamp is kept lighted near to it at all times during Navaratri. On 10th day seed's sprouts shoot large which are signifies growth, prosperity & fertility are given to devotees as blessing of goddess.
Many people do fast for 3, 5, 7 or 9 days during Navaratri and avoid eating Meat, alcohol, grains, wheat, onions, garlic etc.
Reciting 'Durga Stotra', "Durga shaptasati" & 'Chandipath' during Navaratri is considered highly auspicious. The 108 names of the Goddesses are chant with proper Pooja rituals, japas, and hymns during Navaratri.
Jyoti Kalash, Kumari Pooja, Sandhi Pooja, Navami Homa, and Lalitha Vrat are other famous rituals and events which are observed during 9 days Navaratri.
A very significant ritual is performed on 'Ashtami' or 'Navami' is 'Kanya Pooja, which involves worshiping nine young girls, in pre-puberty stage, representing the nine forms of goddess Durga. Devotees break their fast after feeding them.
In Gujarat and Mumbai navarati is celebrated by garba and dandiya which is a dance to celebrate the victory of the goddess. Other states like Punjab keep mata ki chowki at places which is jagrans (staying awake all night) by worshipping goddesses. After nine days Mataji is given vidai (visarjan).
In West Bengal, men and women celebrate 'Durga Pooja' with great devotion and reverence like Ganapati festival is celebrated in Maharashtra. In West Bengal people install idol of Durga in each street with huge grandeur. Prior to devi idol visarjan the women put sindoor on each other's fore-head that is called "Sindoor-khela".
On this day in the famous Ramleela grounds in Delhi, huge effigies of the ten-headed demon king Ravana, Meghanath, his son, and Kumbhakarna, his brother, stuffed with explosive materials are torched by an arrow to symbolize the ultimate triumph of good over evil.
In some parts of South India, Saraswati puja is performed on the 9th day. Ayudha Puja is conducted in many parts of South India on the Mahanavami (Ninth) day with much fanfare. Weapons, agricultural implements, all kinds of tools, equipment, machinery and vehicles are decorated and worshipped on this day along with the worship of Goddess.
Navaratri is also an auspicious and religious time traditionally for starting new ventures.
Mantra to recite on Navaratri:
Ya devi sarva bhutesu, shanti rupena sansitha
Ya devi sarva bhutesu, shakti rupena sansthita
Ya devi sarva bhutesu, matra rupena sansthita
Namastasyai, namastasyai, namastasyai, namo namaha"
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