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Navaratri - Origin And Importance Of The Festival

Navaratri – The Origin And The Importance Of The Festival

Navaratri is derived from a Sanskrit word that means Nava – Nine and Ratri – Nights. The meaning of the world is simple and easily understandable. Navaratri is a festival of celebrations, happiness and brightness all around. People in today’s age celebrate it in various ways. The most commonly seen act out of the others is offering prayers to the nine manifestations of goddess Durga or goddess Parvati at the start. Post the prayers it is time for some Garba and dandiya.

Garba is the dance that honours the feminine form of spirituality and divinity. If we look at the deeper meaning of Garba it seems to us that the word has originated from the Sanskrit word “Garbha” which means a womb. During Garba women and now men gather around in a circle and take turns in a rhythmic and fast-paced way. Earlier the women used to hold decorated clay pots on their head with a light inside signifying the lamp of the womb.

Dandiya on the other hand resonates deeply with the Raas dance of Vrindavan. People hold two sticks in their hands which are decorated beautifully and made of wood, plastic or lightweight metal. They make two circles one facing the other or play in couples where they follow a certain pattern of coordinating the sticks and creating a rhythm.

It is celebrated in almost all the parts of India but signifies different importance for each part. In some parts, it is celebrated in the honours of the incarnations of goddess Durga. In the southern and eastern parts of the country, the festival is called Durga Puja or Durgotsava and it is to pay respects and worship the goddess Durga and celebrate her victory over Mahishasura. The western parts of the country celebrate this festival for honouring the great king Rama and his victory over Ravana. In all these cases it is evident that the celebration is done to denote the victory of good over evil in this world.

Navaratri is generally celebrated in the Ashvin month (Hindu calendar month) which is September or October every year. It is a celebration filled with energy, lights, brightness, power – everything that describes the nine manifestations of the goddess. We will be speaking in length about each and every goddess in the subsequent articles. So stay tuned for knowing the backstories and a lot of other interesting facts about the nine forms of goddess Durga or goddess Parvati.

Every day, in this festival, has its own significance. On the first day which is known as the Pratipada, Shailaputri Devi: Daughter of Mountain is worshipped. The second day, third day and fourth day are the days to worship Brahmacharini: The Unmarried Form, Chandraghanta: The Married Form and Kushmanda: The Goddess of Light & Energy. Skandamata: Mother of the War God is worshipped on the fifth day of the festival and Katyayani: The Warrior Goddess is worshipped on the sixth day of the festival. Saptami which is the seventh day of the festival is dedicated to Kalratri: The ferocious Goddess. Ashtami primarily known as the eighth day of Navaratri festival is dedicated to Mahagauri: The Goddess of Peace and Navami is all about celebrating the Siddhidatri: Goddess of Accomplishment.

Eight and ninth days of this festival hold a very special place in the entire festival. Ashtami is the day when nine little girls are called for Kanya pooja. They are given the utmost respect and are considered to be the form of goddess themselves. During Kanya pooja, girls who are yet to enter adolescence are invited for a pampering session. Their feet are cleaned with milk and offer them new clothes, jewellery, accessories etc. They are given a preparation of chickpea, milk sweets and milk made with dry fruits and special spices. This ritual is sometimes taken place on the ninth day that is Navami if not completed on Ashtami.

In many cultures, the day after Navami is celebrated as Vijayadashami which signifies the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. Many people set up a statue of Ravana and burn it to denote the burning of evil from the world. They thus welcome the good into their minds and their lives.

Navaratri is a festival that is filled with joy, celebration and happiness. One can not easily escape from the madness of this festival. Along with the celebrations of the festival, there is so much to learn from each of the manifestations of the goddess Durga. When one prays to her on these days, they should remember her manifestation and request her to instil all the qualities she has into you for leading a peaceful, calm and purposeful life.

Click here to read about the ten avatars of Vishnu.

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