Navratri, Navaratri, or Navarathri is a Hindu festival of worship of Shakti and dance & festivities. 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 are worshiped. The 10th day is commonly referred to as Vijayadashami or Dashera.
Traditions of Navaratri
Navaratri is celebrated four times a year. They are Vasanta Navaratri, Ashadha Navaratri, the Sharada Navaratri, and the Paush/Magha Navaratri. Of these, the Sharada Navaratri of the month of Puratashi and the Vasanta Navaratri of the Vasanta kala are very important.
1. Vasanta Navaratri: Basanta Navrathri, also known as Vasant Navratras, is the festival of nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the spring season (March–April). It is also known as Chaitra Navratra. The nine days of festival is also known as Raama Navratri.
2. Gupta Navaratri: Gupta Navratri, also referred as Ashadha or Gayatri or Shakambhari Navratri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Ashadha (June–July). Gupta Navaratri is observed during the Ashadha Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon).
3. Sharana Navaratri: This is the most important of the Navratris. It is simply called Maha Navratri (the Great Navratri) and is celebrated in the month of Ashvina. Also known as Sharad Navaratri, as it is celebrated during Sharad (beginning of winter, September–October).
4. Paush Navaratri: Paush Navratri is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Paush (December–January). Paush Navaratri is observed during the Paush Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon).
5. Magha Navaratri: Magha Navratri, also referred as Gupta Navratri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Magha (January–February). Magha Navaratri is observed during the Magha Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon).
Significance of 9 Nights
1st – 3rd day
These days are dedicated to Durga Maa; the Goddess of power and energy.
On the first three days, the goddess is invoked as a powerful spiritual force called Durga in order to destroy all our impurities, vices and defects.
4th – 6th day
During this period people worship Lakshmi Maa, the Goddess of peace and prosperity. During the next three days, the Mother is adored as a giver of spiritual wealth, Lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees the inexhaustible wealth.
7th – 8th day
Saraswati Maa is worship during this period, to acquire the spiritual knowledge
On this day Kanya puja is performed, nine young girls representing the nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshiped.T he final set of three days is spent in worshipping the daughter of Brahma as the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati. In order to have all-round success in life, we need the blessings of all three aspects of the divine femininity, hence, the worship for nine nights.
To celebrate a good harvest and to propitiate the nine planets, women also plant nine different kinds of food grain seeds in small containers during these nine days and then offer the young saplings to the goddess.
During Navratri, some devotees of Durga observe a fast and prayers are offered for the protection of health and property. A period of introspection and purification, Navratri is traditionally an auspicious time for starting new ventures