या देवी सर्वभूतेषु शक्ति-रूपेण संस्थिता। नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः॥
Navratri which means “Nine Nights” is celebrated to honour the Mother Goddess Durga.
It is one of the most significant Hindu Festivals which is celebrated twice a year.One at the onset of summer in March or April which is known as “Chaitra Navratri.” The second Navratri is celebrated in September or October and is known as “Sharad Navratri.”
There are spiritual, natural and historic reasons why we
celebrate Navratri for nine days and twice every year.
Navratris are celebrated at the juncture of seasonal changes. One at the beginning of summer and other at the beginning of winter.
At these seasonal junctures, Mother Nature undergoes a major change, and that is welcomed through the Navratris by celebrating Goddess Shakti, who is an embodiment of Nature itself.
Both the Navratris witness temperate weather conditions which is just perfect for big celebrations.
In Ancient Hindu History, it is believed that Lord Rama started the tradition of celebrating Navratri just before winter. He performed Durga Puja before he left for Lanka and returned victoriously.
In both of these Navratri’s devotees invoke Mother Goddess Durga who represents the Supreme Energy of the Universe. She is the inherent energy which propels the work of creation, preservation, and destruction. The meaning of “Durga” is one who removes miseries.
The festival of Navratri
celebrates Nine nights dedicated to the nine divine forms of Goddess
Durga. A Hindu festival symbolizing the triumph of good over evil, Navratri
takes place at the beginning of October around harvest time and, as the name
implies, is celebrated for nine days. On the tenth day is Dussera which
celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. An effigy of Ravana is burnt;
often giant dummies of Ravana stuffed with fireworks are shot with arrows until
it blows up. Navratri in Gujarat is celebrated with dandiya, and garba-raas.
Goddess Durga symbolizes the divine forces (positive energy) known as divine shakti (feminine energy/ power) that is used against the negative forces of evil and wickedness. She protects her devotees from evil powers and safeguards them. Goddess Durga represents the power of the Supreme Being that preserves moral order and righteousness in the creation.
The Sanskrit word Durga means fort or a place that is protected and thus difficult to reach. Durga, also called Divine Shakti, protects mankind from evil and misery by destroying evil forces (negative energy and vices—arrogance, jealousy, prejudice, hatred, anger, greed and selfishness).
Goddess Durga is depicted as a warrior woman with eight hands carrying weapons of different kinds assuming mudras, (symbolic hand gestures) that represent her teachings.
There are several mantras for Goddess Durga, but the most simple and easy mantra to remember is “Om Sri Durgaya Namah.” It is believed that by chanting this mantra regularly the Divine Mother will remove the physical, mental and worldly problems in life and shower us with her unlimited blessings.
People worship her with full devotion so that Goddess Durga can remove miseries from their lives and fill their lives with happiness, joy, and prosperity.
During the Navratri festival,
people worship all nine avatars of Goddess Durga.
The nine avatars or forms of Mother Durga are known as Mata Shailputri, Mata Brahmacharini, Mata Chandraghanta, Mata Kushmanda, Maa Skanda Mata, Maa Katyayani, Mata Kalratri, Mata Maha Gauri, and Mata Siddhidatri.
Why is Navratri Celebrated for Nine Days?
We worship various forms of Goddess Durga on Navratri with
full devotion and dedication.
Navratri honors the three essential aspects of the Supreme Mother Goddess Durga in the form of Kali, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
On the first three days, the Goddess is worshiped in the form of Kali who is the destroyer of all our impurities.
In the next three days, we adore Goddess Mother in the form of Lakshmi who is considered as the giver of inexhaustible wealth.
In the last three days, the Goddess is worshipped in the form of Saraswati, the giver of knowledge and wisdom.
The eighth day of the festival is popularly celebrated as “Ashtami” and the ninth day as “Maha Navmi” and even as “Ram Navmi” on Chaitra Navratri.