Nava means nine and Ratri means nights. So, Navarati in Hinduism is the celebration of all the 9 avatars of Goddess Durga for 9 consecutive nights. It is one of the most sacred Hindu festivals that is celebrated to cherish the victory of good over evil. Navratri is celebrated 4 times a year according to the Hindu calendar. The 4 Hindu months during which Navratri is celebrated are Chaitra month, Aashadh month, Ashwin month, and Magha month.
The Legend of Navratri
It is believed that a demon Mahishasura worshipped Lord Brahma with utmost devotion. Pleased by his devotion, Lord Brahma blessed him that no man will be able to kill him. It made Mahishasura indestructible. Mahishasura declared a war on all the 3 worlds created by Lord Brahma – Earth, Heaven, and hell to become the king of all worlds. Disturbed by the chain of events, all the Gods approached Tridev (Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh) to stop Mahishasura. Since the Demon couldn’t be killed by any man, Lord Vishnu created Durga deity (a woman) to kill Mahishasura. However, the power of Mahishasura was so supreme that one woman couldn’t defeat him. So, all the three Gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, created 9 forms of Durga. Goddess Durga declared war against Mahishasura. The war lasted for 15 days. During those days, Mahishasura kept changing his form to fool Maa Durga. Durga, too, kept changing her forms. On the 15 days, when Mahishasura took the form of a buffalo, Devi Durga pierced his heart with her trishool. The 9 forms that Goddess Durga took to defeat Mahishasura are, Shailputri, Brahmaachaareenee, Chandraghanta, Kushmaanda, Skandmaata, Kaatyaayeenee, Kaalraatree, Mahagauri, and Sidhidaatree. Each of the 9 forms is worshiped during the 9 days of Navratri.
Hindus fast for 9 days during Navratri. During the first day, the women of the house plant jau (a type of grass) in a diya and keep it in front of the Durga idol. A Diya in ghee is light, and it is known as Akhand Jyoti. It means that the diya should continue to burn for 9 nights continuously. The fast that is observed is broken on the night of each day with falahaar (food that consists of fruits only). Kuttu atta (Flour from plants) is used to make poori (a type of food in Hindus). These pooris can be consumed to break the fast. One form of Durga is worshipped during one day. This means all nine forms are worshipped during the span of 9 days. Out of the 4 months, it is the Navratri of the Ashwin month that’s considered to be most important. Ram Navami is observed on the 10th day of the Ashwin Navratri. 9 small girls are invited into the house on Navami and worshipped. They are fed with a selection of Hindu dishes like Poori and Halwa and are given gifts and money. It is believed that worshipping 9 small girls pleases Goddess Durga and she blesses the worshipper with long life, money, and luck.
Dates of Navratri 2021
Charita Navratri (13th April to 22nd April).
Ashwin Navratri (7th October to 15th October)