Shaarada Navaratri (or, Sharad Navaratri, the most celebrated
Navaratri) is the most important of the Navratris, and is simply called Navratri
or occasionally, Maha Navratri (the Great Navratri). It is celebrated during
Sharad (beginning of winter, Sept-Oct). It celebrates the slaying of Mahishasura
by the goddess Durga. The festival is observed in most parts of India, particularly
in Northern India, Eastern India, and Western India. Other than this there are
a few different other Navaratris that are celebrated, however, less famous.
Commences on the first and ends on the tenth day of the bright half of the lunar
"The Navaratri festival has to be celebrated during the bright fortnight
of the month of Asvina, in the order of pratipada, etc, until the navami ends",
says the Dhaumya-vacana.
Vasanta Navaratri is the second most
famous Navratri, and is celebrated in the lunar month of Chaitra (March –
April) and ends with Ram Navami. Celebrated during Vasant Ritu (sprintime/beginning
of summer). This Navaratri is celebrated in North India. Vaishno Devi temple
in Jammu observes Navaratri during this period. Also known as Vasant
Navratras and Ram Navaratri or Gupt
Navratri, it is the festival of nine nights dedicated to Hindu
Goddess Durga, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati. This Navaratri is also
known as Chaitra Navratras or Spring Navratri as it is observed during the Hindu
month of Chaitra (March – April). In 2009, Vasant Navratri begins (date)
on March 27 and ends on April 3.
The Vasant or Spring Navratri is more famous in Himachal Pradesh,
Uttarakhand (Uttaranchal), Punjab and Haryana and other North Indian states.
Vasant Navratri is held during the beginning of summer. It is a time of thanksgiving
to Mother Nature – who protects and sustains us.
The Vasant Navratra also coincides with Ram Navami, which falls on the ninth
day of Chaitra month. Due to this the Navratri in March is also known as Ram
Navratri. During this period, fairs are organized in temples in Himachal Pradesh
Most devotees fast during the period of Navratri and on the Ashtami day little
girls are worshiped as incarnation of Goddess Shakti.
Ashada Navaratri also referred as Gayatri or Guhya Navratri,
is celebrated also for nine days, dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother
Goddess) in the Hindi month of Ashada (June – July). Ashada Navaratri
is observed during the Ashada Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon). In 2009,
Ashada Navratri begins on June 23 and ends on June 30.
Ashada Navratri rituals are followed mainly in the Hindi speaking states in
India. It is largely observed by women in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
The nine days are dedicated to worship of various forms of Shakti.
This Navartri is particularly important for all Upasakas or worshippers of
Varahi (the female embodiment, or energy, of the fourth avatara of Lord Vishnu).
Varahi is one of the seven Matrikas of Devi Mahatmya. It is also referred as
Guhya Navratri in Himachal Pradesh.
Some people fast on certain days of Ashada Navratri and vegetarian food is
consumed during the period. The most important event during the nine-day period
is community worship of the nine forms of Durga or Shakti. Women in a locality
gather in a household during evening and worship Mother Goddess.
Ashada Navratri is also observed during the Hindi month Shukla Paksha of Magh
(January – February).
The most important Navratri is the one observed during September - October
and is celebrated throughout India.
Magh Navratri (Maagha Navaratri) is observed Shukla Paksha
(waxing phase of moon) of Magh or Magha month (January – February) as
per the traditional Hindu calendar followed in North India. Magh Navratri is
dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti – Hindu Mother Goddess. The Navratra
rituals are followed mainly by women in the Hindi speaking states in India.
In 2009, Magh Navratri begins on January 27 and ends on 4th February, 2009.
Magh Navratra is also known as Gupt Navratri. The rituals and forms of Shakti
worshipped during Magh Navratri vary from region to region. In some regions,
it is noted for a nine-day community worship of the nine forms of Shakti.
Fasting is observed on certain days of Magh Navratri and strictly vegetarian
food is consumed during the period.