Navaratri: A Vibrant Celebration the Divine Energy

Navaratri (in Sanskrit “Nava” means “Nine” and Ratri means “Nights”) is a festival that is dedicated to the worship of Goddess Durga (a popular form of Goddess Parvati) and her nine divine avatars, for a period of nine days. This auspicious occasion is celebrated with great fervor and enthusiasm, dedicated to honoring the divine feminine energy and the triumph of good over evil.

As per Vedic Lunar calendar (which has been in existence since long before the Georgian Solar calendar was created), the 12 months of a year are named as Chaitra, Vaisakha, Jyaistha, Asadha, Sravana, Bhadra, Asvina, Kartika, Agrahayana, Pausa, Magha and Phalguna. Navaratri is celebrated 4 times a year, during the lunar months of Chaitra, Ashada, Asvina and Magha. But only two of them Sharad Navaratri and Chaitra Navaratri are celebrated widely across the Indian sub-continent.

Chaitra Navaratri

Chaitra Navaratri is the second most celebrated Navaratri, the most popular being Sharad Navaratri. It is celebrated during the lunar month of Chaitra (post-winter, March–April). The festival falls during or after the spring harvest.

Ashada Navaratri

Ashada Navaratri is celebrated in the month of Ashadha (June–July). It also marks the start of the monsoon season.

Sharad Navaratri

Sharad Navaratri (also known as Shardiya Navratri and Maha Navratri) is the most significant, and most popular of the four Navaratri. Sharada in Sanskrit means Autumn, it is observed during the lunar month of Asvina (post-monsoon, September–October). The festival falls during or after the autumn harvest.

The festival of Sharad Navaratri associated to the prominent battle that took place between goddess Durga and the demon Mahishasura. It signifies slaying of demon Mahishasura by Maa Durga, and celebrates the victory of good over evil. The tenth day is celebrated as Vijaya-Dushami, this day is also celebrated as Dusshera in some parts of the country, the day on which Lord Rama won the battle against the evil Ravana. In southern parts of India, the festival includes worshipping of goddess Lakshmi and goddess Saraswati.

Sharad Navratri is also dedicated to nine forms of Maa Shakti – Durga, Bhadrakali, Jagadamba, Annapurna, Sarvamangala, Bhairavi, Chandika, Lalita, Bhavani, and Mookambika.

Magha Navaratri

Magha Navaratri is celebrated in the month of Magha (January–February). The fifth day of this festival is often independently observed as Vasanta Panchami, the beginning of spring season, wherein goddess Saraswati is revered through arts, music, writing, and kite flying.

Navaratri Dates 2023

NavaratriStart DateEnd Date
Chaitra NavaratriWednesday, March 22, 2023Friday, March 31, 2023
Ashada NavaratriMonday, 19th June 2023Wednesday, 28 June 2023
Shardiya NavaratriSunday, 15 October 2023Tuesday 24 October 2023
Magha NavaratriSunday, January 22 2023Monday, January 30 2023

Regarless of when Navaratri is celebrated, the nine days of Navaratri are dedicated to goddess Parvati and her nine forms – the “Nava Durga”. The nine forms of goddess Parvati are – Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidhatri. Each day of Navaratri is associated to an incarnation of the Goddess.

Nava Durga – image source wikimedia

Pratipada (Day 1) – Devi Shailaputri Puja

This day is associated with Shailaputri (literally means “Daughter of Mountain”). goddess Parvati was born as the daughter of Himalaya, and hence the name Shailaputri. In this form, goddess Parvati is worshiped as the consort of Shiva. She is depicted as riding the bull (Nandi), with a trishula in her right hand and lotus in her left. Shailaputri is considered to be the direct incarnation of Mahakali.

Dwitiya (Day 2) – Devi Brahmacharini Puja

The second day of Navratri is dedicated to devi Brahmacharini. In this form, goddess Parvati is worshipped as Brahmacharini, her unmarried self. Brahmacharini is worshiped for moksha and endowment of peace and prosperity. Depicted as walking bare feet and holding a japamala and kamandal in her hands, she symbolizes bliss and calm.

Tritiya (Day 3) – Devi Chandraghanta Puja

This day commemorates the worship of devi Chandraghanta. In this form she is depicted as a fierce 10-armed goddess with a crescent moon on her forehead. The name derived from the fact that after marrying Shiva, Parvati adorned her forehead with the ardha-chandra (crescent moon). She is the embodiment of beauty and is also symbolic of bravery.

Chaturthi (Day 4) – Devi Kushmanda Puja

This day commemorates the worship of devi Kushmanda, an incarnation of Parvati. Believed to be the creative power of the universe, Kushmanda associated with the endowment of vegetation on earth. She is depicted as having eight arms and sits on a Tiger.

Panchami (Day 5) – Devi Skandamata Puja

Goddess Skandamata is worshiped on Panchami. Skandamata literally means mother of Skanda (Kartikeya). She is depicted having four arms deity, riding a ferocious lion, holding her baby, and carries a lotus in two of her arms with a sacred Kamandalu and a bell in the other two.

Shashthi (Day 6) – Devi Katyayani Puja

Born to sage Katyayana, she is an incarnation of goddess Parvati, and is shown to exhibit courage. Also known as the warrior goddess, she is considered one of the most violent forms of Devi. In this avatar, goddess Katyayani rides a lion and has four hands.

Saptami (Day 7) – Devi Kalaratri Puja

Considered the most ferocious form of goddess Durga, devi Kalaratri is revered on Saptami. It is believed that Parvati removed her fair skin to kill the demons Sumbha and Nisumbha. On Saptami, the goddess appears in a white color attire with a lot of rage in her fiery eyes, her skin turns black. The white color portrays prayer and peace and ensures the devotees that the goddess will protect them from harm.

Ashtami (Day 8) – Devi Mahagauri Puja

Durga Asthami or the eight-day of Navratri is dedicated to devi Mahagauri. She is a four-armed deity who rides on a bull or a white elephant. She carries a Trishul and a damru in her hands. This form of goddess Parvati symbolizes intelligence and peace.

Navami (Day 9) – Devi Sidhidatri Puja

This is the last day of the Navaratri festival, also known as Navami, dedicated to devi Siddhidhatri. She is projected as a four-armed deity sitting on a lotus, holding a mace, discus and a book and lotus in her hands. Also known as SriLakshmi Devi, this form of goddess Durga signifies perfection and admiration towards nature’s beauty.

Navaratri is a time of immense joy, devotion, and celebration. It is a festival that embraces the divine feminine energy and celebrates the victory of good over evil. From the melodious chants to the exuberant dances, from the intricately crafted altars to the vibrant attire, Navaratri creates an atmosphere of unity, spiritual fervor, and cultural extravaganza. As people come together to seek the blessings of Goddess Durga and immerse themselves in the festivities, Navaratri rejuvenates the spirit and reminds us of the eternal values of faith, love, and the triumph of righteousness.

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