‘Nav’ means ‘nine’ and ‘Ratri’ means ‘night’, thus, ‘Navratri’ means ‘nine nights’. There are many legends attached to the conception of Navratri like all Indian festivals but all of them are related to Goddess Shakti (Hindu Mother Goddess) and her various forms.
Though it is one of the most celebrated festivals of Hindu calendar, it holds special significance for Gujratis and Bengalis and one can see it in the zeal and fervor of the people with which they indulge in the festive activities of the season. The first three days of Navratri are dedicated to Goddess Durga (Warrior Goddess) dressed in red and mounted on a lion, next three to Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity) dressed in gold and mounted on an owl and finally, last three to Goddess Saraswati (Goddess Of Knowledge) dressed in milky white and mounted on a pure white swan.
Dandiya and Garba Rass are the highlights of the festival in Gujarat while farmer sow seeds and thank the Goddess for her blessings and pray for better yield. In olden times, this festival was associated with the fertility of Mother Earth who feeds us as her children. Sweetmeats are prepared for the celebrations and children and adults to dress up in new bright, colored dresses for the night performances. With commercialization, the festival has moved on to be a social festival rather than a religious or agrarian festival. In some communities people undergo rigorous fasts during this season that lasts for the nine days of the festival, only to be opened on the tenth day of Dussehra. However, nothing dampens the spirit of the devout followers of Mother Goddess as they sing devotional songs and indulge in the gaieties of the season.
Navratri (Nine Nights)
1st – 3rd day of Navratri
On the first day of the Navaratras, a small bed of mud is prepared in the puja room and barley seeds are sown on it. These initial days are dedicated to Durga Maa, the Goddess of power and energy.
4th – 6th day of Navratri
During these days, Lakshmi Maa, the Goddess of peace and prosperity is worshipped.
7th – 8th day of Navratri
These final days belong to Saraswati Maa who is worshipped to acquire the spiritual knowledge. This, in turn, will free us from all earthly bondage. But on the 8th day of this colorful festival, yagna (holy fire) is performed.
The festival of Navratri culminates in Mahanavami. On this day Kanya Puja is performed. Nine young girls representing the nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshiped.
Navratri’s every night is dedicated to one form of Goddess Durga. That is every ratri of the Navratri corresponds to worship of different forms of Maa Durga.
- This embraces Maa Shailputri, who was the daughter of Parvatraj Himalaya (King of the Mountain), wife of Lord Shiva and mother of Ganesha and Kartikeya.
- Maa Brahmachaarini- Who gives the message of pure love to the world;
- Maa Chandraghanta – Who establishes Justice and wears crescent moon on Her head;
- Maa Kushmaanda, Who provides the basic necessities to the world;
- Skand Maa – Who gives the gift of differentiation of right from wrong to the world;
- Maa Kaatyayini – Who persistently battles against the evil and deceitful entities.
- Maa Kaalratri, who killed Raktabeej ( a demon who produce a demon from every drop of blood that fell from his body. Goddess eventually licked the blood before it could reach the ground and hence conquered him);
- Maa MahaGauri – Who also liberate the world of evil forces.
- Mata Sidhidaarti -Who is a treasure house of Mystic Powers (Yantra Tantra) and Knowledge (Gyaan).
At midnight, aarti is performed to worship the image of Goddess Durga with Pushpanjali and Thar offered to the Goddess and Prasaad is shared amongst all the people present. The Devi-Sthaapana is also performed in homes as an invitation to the Goddess. A nine-day fast is observed where no food is eaten after sunrise. Regular prayers are offered in morning and evening.
The mood of Navratri is very colorful & unique and is a festival of pure happiness and one of the most auspicious (Subh) occasions.
Durga Maiya Ki Aarti
Ambe Tu Hai Jagdambe Kali, Jai Durge Khappar Wali
Tere Hi Gun Gaavey Bharati !! O Maiya, Hum Sab Utarey Teri Aarti !!
Tere Bhakt Jano Par Mata Bhir Padi Hai Bhari,
Daanav Dal Par Toot Pado Maa Karke Sinh Savari,
Sao Sao Sinho Se Tu Bal Sali,
Dus Bhujao Wali, Dukhiyon Ke Dukhdae Nivarti !! … O Maiya … !!
Maa Bete Ka Hai Is Jag Mein Bada Hi Nirmal Nata,
Poot Kaput Sune Hai Par Na Mata Suni Kumata,
Sab Par Karuna Darsaney Wali, Amrut Barsaney Wali,
Dukhiyon Ke Dukhdae Nivarti !! … O Maiya … !!
Nahi Maangtey Dhan Aur Daulat Na Chaandi Na Sona,
Hum To Maangey Maa Tere Man Mein Ek Chota Sa Kona,
Sab Ki Bigdi Banane Walli, Laaj Bachane Walli,
Satiyo Ke Sat Ko Sanbharti !! … O Maiya … !!