Navaratri (or, Navratri, or Navaratra) is a Hindu festival
of worship and dance. The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit;
Nava meaning Nine and Ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten
days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi i.e. female divinity are worshipped. 'Nava'
in Sanskrit means 'nine' and 'ratri' means 'night', thus, 'Navaratri' means
'nine nights'. The Devi Mahatmya and other texts invoking the Goddess
who vanquished demons are recited. This festival of nights lasts for 9 days
with three days each devoted to worship of Ma Durga, the Goddess of Valor, Ma
Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Ma Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge. During
the nine days of Navratri, feasting and fasting take precedence over all normal
daily activities amongst the Hindus.
|The 9 nights festival of Navratri begins on the first
day of Ashwina of the bright fortnight. Seeds are sown, sprouting is watched,
the planets are consecrated, and on the 8th and 9th days, Goddess Durga, Vijayashtami
and Mahanavami are worshipped. Evenings give rise to the religious dances
in order to worhip Goddess Durga.
The festival is celebrated with true devotion and purity
all over the country. People from various sections of the society irrespective
of caste and creed celebrate this festival by visiting temples and offering
pujas at the Mother’s feet.
In some places special puja samarohas are also held by
setting the images of Mother Durga on beautifully decorated pandals. Temples
dedicated to Shakti also make arrangement for pujas and bratas to mark these
nine days as true symbols of devotion and adoration towards the divine mother.
There are many legends attached to the conception of Navratri like all Indian
festivals but all of them are related to Goddess Shakti (Hindu Mother Goddess)
and her various forms.
Though it is one of the most celebrated festivals of
Hindu calendar, it holds special significance for Bengalis and Gujratis and
one can see it in the zeal and fervor of the people with which they indulge
in the festive activities of the season.
Navratri Festival coincides with the end of the rainy
season. This season is considered to be an auspicious one as it is generally
associated with the sowing of seeds, and watching new seeds sprout - a sign
of prosperity and abundance. Most people consider it the best time of the year
to undertake or start new ventures.