As we mentioned in another article Navratris are celebrated four times in a year. It is called by different names in all parts of the country. However, it is most popularly called Navratri meaning nine nights if literally translated to Sanskrit.
Today at the time of publishing this post, it is the first Chaitra Navratri in progress and we have already posted detailed information on it, but this is a supplementary post which tells from the perspective of Sharad navratris which come before Dussehra, so it is a good time and opportunity to learn about that also once you are in the Navratri mood.
The Nine Auspicious days
During these nine days people across the country celebrate the power of Goddess Shakti also called as Durga in West Bengal and the other eastern states of India. We will now discuss in more details about the Navratri Puja and what is the significance of these nine days in our traditions and religion.
Generally this festival comes in March and October and as per our traditional calendar the Sharad navratris start from the first day of Ashwin month. During these nine nights it is believed that during these nine nights the goddess drives off all the evil from the world.
The Invincible Trio
These days are dedicated to three goddesses namely Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. They are worshiped in different parts of the country and in various ways. Ma Durga is considered the goddess of strength, Laksmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity, Saraswati is the god of wisdom.
All these goddesses together are believed to drive all the evil from earth. It is believed that these three goddesses came together and they fought the evil asuras who were planning to take up the whole universe. This battle went on for nine days and on the ninth day the good was finally able to defeat the bad force.
The asuras were killed. Lord Shiva had given then blessing that only women could kill them and no man will be able to touch them. The gods were not able to kill these asuras because of this blessing from lord Shiva. That was when the gods went and requested lord Vishnu.
Goddess Parvati then took the form of Durga. Maha Shakti and killed these demons after a battle that lasted nine long days. Since those days these nine days are celebrated to worship this strength. The goddess is requested to come to earth and remove all the evil from here. The goddess Durga is seen mounted on a tiger. She is considered to have strengths to supress the power of the planet Rahu.
First 3 Days
The first three nights of the festival is completely dedicated to Durga the goddess who started her fight with the demons with all her weapons and mounted on a tiger. The second three days is dedicated to goddess laksmi. She is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. She governs Venus planet. She is worshiped to eradicate poverty.
Next 6 Days
The last few days are for the goddess of wisdom called and Saraswati. She is worshiped to eradicate ignorance and is considered as a goddess who can impart knowledge and creativity to all those who worship her.
10th Day post navratri
The tenth day is called the vijaya dashmi as tenth day of this battle that lasted for nine nights. This is the day when the victory was achieved by the good on evil. On this day the festivities end. The goddess Durga is submerged in water as she says good bye to earth and goes back to her home.
Well as we all know that now days there is no asura that the goddess needs to kill. The significance of this festival is much deeper. During these nine nights we are supposed to fight the evil within us. The negative feelings of jealousy, greed and anger are what we need to fight and kill. We should strive to gain more knowledge. Try to make money with honest means and spread happiness within people around us. The significance is beautiful but there are very few who actually know it and follow it.
In Bengal this is a huge festival. There are big pandals made all over the city. Each pandal has a unique theme. There are competitions held in these pandals so that people can compete and win prizes. Women dress up in new saris and jewellery. White saree with a red border is a must wear during the festival.
Men wear dhotis and every evening aarti is done. Almost all the houses do pujas. Some families also do the puja at their own houses. Gifts are exchanged and delicacies are made. This is a feasting time in this part of the country. Bengalis are known as great food lovers.
In Gujarat during these nine days people worship the goddess Shakti. Many fast during these days. In the evenings the people dress up in traditional attire and do garbha in huge groups. Garbha is a great dance form in this part of the country that is done with sticks. In some places people also dance all through the night. Even in south India these nine days are celebrated.
The houses are decorated with kollam and mango leaves. Pujas are done. People visit each other’s houses and greet each other. The celebrations are not as grand as the other part of the country but are definitely there. On the dussera day it is a holiday all across the country. Even in North India these nine days are celebrated with great pomp and show. They too worship the goddess Durga.
A kalash is decorated with kumkum and red dupatta and is paced in front of the goddess. People fast during these days. Evenings they have saboo Dana ka khichdi and very simple food. The Jains also fast during these days. On the eight day they don’t even have water.
I hope this will help you to understand why these nine days are considered to be so special in India. The traditions that are associated with these nine days and what are the major activities that people indulge in during this time. If you are new to the country then this will help you to gain awareness about the same. Many of us have forgotten about the old traditions. I hope this article will help you to learn more about the Navratri traditions and ensure that you follow the same.