“Nava-ratri” literally means “nine nights.” Navaratri usually happens in late September/early October each year. The dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar. It’s usually a nine night festival that ends with Dussehra, the victory of good over evil, on the tenth day. However, some years it’s reduced to eight nights or extended to 10 nights. This is because, astrologically, some of the days occur on the same date or occur across two dates.
- Day 1: Pratipada To mark the commencement of Navaratri, a ritual called Ghatasthapana is performed to invoke the energy of the goddess. On Pratipada, the goddess is worshiped as Shailputri, an incarnation of Goddess Parvati meaning “Daughter of the Mountain”. She represents nature and purity. The color to be worn on this day is yellow.
- Day 2: Dwitiya is when the goddess is worshiped as Brahmacharini, the unmarried form of Goddess Parvati. As she undertook great penance to get Lord Shiva to marry her, she’s associated with pious strictness. The color to be worn on this day is green.
- Day 3: Tritiya is when the goddess is worshiped as Chandraghanta, the married form the Goddess Parvati. Her name is derived from the half moon on her forehead, which looks like a bell. She’s depicted riding on a tigress, and is associated with bravery and courage to fight evil. The color to be worn on this day is gray.
- Day 5: Panchami is when the goddess is worshiped as Skandamata, the mother of Kartikeya (also known as Skanda), son of Lord Shiva and brother of Lord Ganesha. The color to be worn on this day is white.
- Day 6: Shasthi is when the goddess is worshiped asKatyayani, who Goddess Parvarti morphed into in order to fight and destroy the buffalo demon Mahishasura. She represents a warrior form of the goddess. The color to be worn on this day is red.
- Day 7: Saptami is when the goddess is worshiped as Kalaratri, the dark night. She appeared to destroy some particularly evil demons in the battle against Mahishasura. She’s the goddess’s fiercest form and represents protection from all troubles. The color to be worn on this day is royal blue.
- Day 8: Ashtami is when the goddess is worshiped as Mahagauri, the younger version of Shailputri who had a very fair and perfect complexion. She represents beauty and grace, and the cleansing of sins. The color to be worn on this day is pink.
- Day 9: Navami is when the goddess is worshiped asSiddhidatri, who embodies all eight siddhis (supernatural powers). She is believed to have granted them to Lord Shiva when he worshiped her, and she also bestows them upon her devotees. The color to be worn on this day is purple.
Note that in south India, Goddess Durga is worshiped during the first three days of the Navaratri festival, followed by Goddess Lakshmi during the next three days, and finally Goddess Saraswati on the last three days.
All nine days during Navratri are dedicated to nine forms of Goddess Shakti. Most customs and rituals followed during Shardiya Navratri, which falls in the month of September or October, are also followed during Chaitra Navratri. Ghatasthapana Puja Vidhi for Shardiya Navratri and Chaitra Navratri is same.
Chaitra Navratri is more popular in northern India. In Maharashtra Chaitra Navratri begins with Gudi Padwa and in Andhra Pradesh it begins with Ugadi.
What’s the Significance of Navratri?
During Navaratri, we invoke the energy aspect of God in the form of the universal mother, commonly referred to as “Durga,” which literally means the remover of miseries of life. She is also referred to as “Devi” (goddess) or “Shakti” (energy or power). It is this energy, which helps God to proceed with the work of creation, preservation and destruction. In other words, you can say that God is motionless, absolutely changeless, and the Divine Mother Durga, does everything. Truly speaking, our worship of Shakti re-confirms the scientific theory that energy is imperishable. It cannot be created or destroyed. It is always there.
Why Worship the Mother Goddess?
We think this energy is only a form of the Divine Mother, who is the mother of all, and all of us are her children. “Why mother; why not father?”, you may ask. Let me just say that we believe that God’s glory, his cosmic energy, his greatness and supremacy can best be depicted as the motherhood aspect of God. Just as a child finds all these qualities in his or her mother, similarly, all of us look upon God as mother. In fact, Hinduism is the only religion in the world, which gives so much importance to the mother aspect of God because we believe that mother is the creative aspect of the absolute.
Why Twice a Year?
Every year the beginning of summer and the beginning of winter are two very important junctures of climatic change and solar influence. These two junctions have been chosen as the sacred opportunities for the worship of the divine power because:
- We believe that it is the divine power that provides energy for the earth to move around the sun, causing the changes in the outer nature and that this divine power must be thanked for maintaining the correct balance of the universe.
- Due to the changes in the nature, the bodies and minds of people undergo a considerable change, and hence, we worship the divine power to bestow upon all of us enough potent powers to maintain our physical and mental balance.
Why Nine Nights & Days?
Navaratri is divided into sets of three days to adore different aspects of the supreme goddess. On the first three days, the Mother is invoked as powerful force called Durga in order to destroy all our impurities, vices and defects. The next three days, the Mother is adored as a giver of spiritual wealth, Lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees the inexhaustible wealth. The final set of three days is spent in worshipping the mother as the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati. In order have all-round success in life, we need the blessings of all three aspects of the divine mother; hence, the worship for nine nights.
Why Do You Need the Power?
Thus, I suggest you join your parents in worshipping “Ma Durga” during the Navaratri. She will bestow on you wealth, auspiciousness, prosperity, knowledge, and other potent powers to cross every hurdle of life. Remember, everyone in this world worships power, i.e., Durga, because there is no one who does not love and long for power in some form or the other.
– Shri Gyan Rajhans