India — Festivals
Maha Navratri — Marks the worship of Goddess Durga
Festival of Navratri (literally nine nights), also spelled Navaratri or Navarathri, is a significant nine-day Hindu festival celebrated in the autumn every year. There are four seasonal Navratri. Sharad Navratri is the most popular and significant of all four. That is why Sharad Navratri is also known as Maha Navratri.
The festival, which marks the worship of Goddess Durga, begins today on September 21, 2017 with religious fervor and gaiety. The festival is celebrated in the bright half of the Hindu calendar month Ashvin (seventh lunar month), which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October. Navratri begins on Pratipada (day 1) of Ashvin, Shukla Paksha and ends on Navami (day 9) of Ashvin, Shukla Paksha. The nine days festivity culminates on tenth day with Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami.
Indian Festival of Maha Navratri — September 21, 2017
Sharad Navratri (Maha Navratri) — Legend
During Sharad Navratri, Goddess Durga killed mighty demon Mahisasura. Different religious texts mention separate form of Goddess Durga who killed Mahisasura. As per Rambha Kalpa, Goddess Durga in the form of 18 handed Ugrachandi killed Mahisasura. However, as per Neelalohita Kalpa, 16 handed Bhadrakali killed Mahisasura and as per Shwetavaraha Kalpa ten handed Katyayani killed Mahisasura.
However, most religious texts agree that it was demon Mahisasura who was killed by one of the ferocious forms of Goddess Durga. Hence, the victory of Goddess Durga over evil is celebrated during Navratri.
It is also believed that Lord Rama also worshiped Goddess Durga during Sharad Navratri. On the advice of Lord Brahma, Lord Rama invoked Goddess Durga and sought her blessings before waging war against demon Ravana. As Lord Rama invoked Goddess Durga during her sleeping period, since then the untimely invocation of the Goddess Durga during Sharad Navratri is also known as Akal Bodhan of Goddess Durga.
Sharad Navratri (Maha Navratri) — Navratri Deity
Apart from Goddess Durga, nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshiped during Navratri.
As per Shaiva Sampradaya, mostly followed in North India, presiding deity of each Tithi from Pratipada to Navami during Navratri are as following:
Indian Festival of Maha Navratri — Nine Forms of Goddess Durga
Sharad Navratri (Maha Navratri) — September 21 to 29, 2017
- Pratipada (Day 1) – Ghatasthapana, Shailaputri Puja
- Dwitiya (Day 2) – Brahmacharini Puja
- Tritiya (Day 3) – Chandraghanta Puja
- Chaturthi (Day 4) – Kushmanda Puja
- Panchami (Day 5) – Upang Lalita Vrat, Skandamata Puja
- Shashthi (Day 6) – Katyayani Puja
- Saptami (Day 7) – Maha Saptami, Kalaratri Puja
- Ashtami (Day 8) – Mahashtami, Durga Ashtami, Kumari Puja, Mahagauri Puja
- Navami (Day 9) – Maha Navami, Navami Homa, Siddhidatri Puja
Celebrations — Navratri Observance
Numerous rituals are followed during Navratri. These rituals vary from state to state. The most common rituals which are observed and traditions which are followed during Navratri are as follows:
- Ghatasthapana on the first day of Navratri
- Worshiping nine forms of Goddess Durga
- Nine days long Navratri fast
- Sowing Sapta-Dhanya (seven grains)
- Installing Jyoti Kalash for nine days
- Recitation of Durga Saptashati
- Performing Dandiya and Garba in honor of the Goddess
- Adorning as per nine Navratri color during Navratri
- Kanya Puja or Kumari Puja
- Chandi Homa
Celebrations — Regional Variance
Navratri is observed as Durga Puja in West Bengal and Assam. Although the concept of Durga Puja and Navratri is same and timing of both festivals overlaps, the rituals and observances significantly differ for both festivals.
On the first day of Navratri, we worship Goddess Shailaputri due to her importance among all nine forms of Goddess Durga.
Legend: After the self-immolation as Goddess Sati, Goddess Parvati took birth as the daughter of Lord Himalaya. In Sanskrit Shail means the mountain and due to which Goddess was known as Shailaputri, the daughter of the mountain.
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah