2013 Navratri:---5th October 2013 (Saturday)
Navratri is the nine day period of worship before the festival of Dassera. Read about the significance of this time.
Navratri is a combination of two words. 'Nav' means nine while 'ratri' means night. Therefore, this celebration is literally translated as 'nine nights'. The celebrations begin on the first day of the month of Ashvin according to the Hindu calendar. They culminate in the festival of Dassera, on the tenth day of the month. As per the Gregorian calendar, Navratri always falls in the month of October. The exact date differs from year to year though.
What's the Significance of Navratri?
During Navaratri, we invoke the energy aspect of God in the form of the universal mother, commonly referred to as "Durga," which literally means the remover of miseries of life. She is also referred to as "Devi" (goddess) or "Shakti" (energy or power). It is this energy, which helps God to proceed with the work of creation, preservation and destruction. In other words, you can say that God is motionless, absolutely changeless, and the Divine Mother Durga, does everything. Truly speaking, our worship of Shakti re-confirms the scientific theory that energy is imperishable. It cannot be created or destroyed. It is always there.
Why Navratri is Celebrated?
The festival of Dassera is celebrated to worship the goddess Durga. She is the embodiment of Devi, or the supreme goddess. The form of the goddess Durga is said to symbolise creative energy and the feminine body. This form of the goddess has nine aspects. Navratri therefore is dedicated to the worship of these aspects. Each form or aspect of the goddess has its own day dedicated to it.
The Navratri celebrations are devoted to the worship of the Eternal mother, which has its origins in the Vedas. Durga is also considered to be a combination of the Trinity of goddesses. They are Saraswati, Parvati, and Lakshmi. During Navratri, these three main goddesses are worshipped as well. The central theme of Navratri though is the triumph of good over evil.
How each day is celebrated?
Navratri lasts for nine whole days. However, each day has its own special significance and is celebrated separately. Along with the nine forms of Durga, obeisance is paid to the Trinity of goddesses as well.
1st — 3rd days: The first three days are dedicated solely to the worship of the goddess Durga. During this period, her energy and power are worshipped. Each day is dedicated to a different manifestation of Durga. On the first day, Kumari is worshipped, which signifies the girl child. The second day is dedicated to Parvati, who is the embodiment of a young woman. On the third day, Kali is worshipped. This form represents the woman who has reached maturity.
On the first day of Navratri, barley seeds are planted in a small bed of mud. This mud bed is kept in the pooja room. By the tenth day, each seed has sprouted into a shoot which is between three and five inches long. After the pooja performed on the tenth day, the shoots are plucked and given to the attendees. They are said to be a blessing from God.
4th — 6th days: These three days are devoted to the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and peace. Although these days are dedicated to Lakshmi, the goddess Saraswati is invoked on the fifth day. This day is referred to as Lalita Panchami. On this day, all the books and other literature are gathered in one place. Then, a 'diya' or lamp is lit in front of them to call upon the goddess Saraswati.
7th — 8th days: The seventh day is dedicated to worshipping Saraswati, the goddess of art and knowledge. Prayers are offered to her, seeking spiritual knowledge. The knowledge of the spiritual world is said to free us from our earthly bonds. This, in turn, will bring us closer to God.
On the eight day, a 'yagna' is performed. This comprises of a sacrifice, which is offered to the sacred fire. The sacrifice honours the goddess Durga as well as bids her farewell. The sacrifice or offering is made out of clarified butter (ghee), rice pudding (kheer), and sesame seeds.
9th day: The ninth day is the culmination of the entire Navratri celebrations. This day is referred to as 'Mahanavami'. On this day, a Kanya pooja is performed. Nine young girls, who have not yet attained puberty are worshipped during this pooja. Each one of them symbolises one of the nine forms of goddess Durga. Each girls feet are washed, as a mark of respect for the goddess. At the end of the pooja, each girl is given a set of new clothes as a gift from the devotees.