Being in a land of a variety of cultures like India, we go to witness a lot of multi-culture and multi-religious activities around us. Every month comes with its own significance. And here is October approaching; the month of festivals! Navratri, Dussehra, Deepawali… wow!! Exciting isn’t it. It’s usually the most awaited time of the year. Well the first of all being the pious weeks of Navratri.
In this and few articles on SAIKISITE, I’ll be telling facts related to Navratri.
Navratri, literally means nine nights. It’s composed of Sanskrit words ‘nava’ meaning nine and ‘ratri’ meaning night. It’s a very significant Hindu festival celebrated all over India and Nepal and is dedicated to nine forms of Devi Shakti (Goddess power.)
Five Types of Navratri
Most of us are known to just two Navratirs being celebrated but in all, it is celebrated for five times in an year. The lesser known Navratris are also quite significant and are a follows:
Celebrated in the Hindu month of Chaitra (usually March-April), during the waxing phase of a moon (Shukla Paksha), it makes to be one of the two most celebrated Navratis. Fasting for nine days ends on the day of ‘Ram Navami and it marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year.
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Celebrated in the month of Ashad (usually June-July), it is also known as Gupta or Gayatri or Shakambahr Navratri and is mostly celebrated by Shakas. (Hindu devotees of Goddess)
The most significant of all, it is celebrated as the first day of lunar motnh of Ashwin. It is basically devoted to Goddess Durga and also marks the beginning of Autumn (Sharad).
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It is celebrated in the waxing phase of moon during the month of Pausha (usually December).
Celebrated in the month of Magha (usually February-March), it is also a kind of Gupta Navratri .
History of Sharad Navratri
With Sharad Navratri being the most widely celebrated, there are also a number of legends related to it in different parts of the country.
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In Northern India, it relates to the mighty demon Mahishasura, who by worshiping Lord Shiva, obtained the power of eternity and thus started harassing innocent people. The trinity Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesh then united their powers and created Goddess Durga, a divine female power. Being mesmerized by her beauty, Mahishasura approached her for marriage to which she agreed over a condition, which was to win over her in a battle. The battle then continued for nine days and culminated on the ninth night with the next day being known as Vijayadashmi (win on the tenth day). It was a symbol of a triumph of good over the evil.
While in North it relates to win of good over the evil, in eastern India it is a story of Daksha, the king of mountains and her daughter Uma who from her childhood was a Lord Shiva devotee and wanted to marry him. With her continuous devotion when she married Lord Shiva Daksh cut off all ties with her. It was when Daksha had organized a yajna (religious practice) and didn’t invite Lord Shiva for the same, Uma got angry and offended and hence sacrificed her life by jumping into the fire of the Yajna. Since then, she came to be known as Sati and it is believed that she comes to stay with her parents during the nine days of Navratri.
The Legend Of Ramayana
It is believed that to gain power to win over Ravana, Lord Rama worshiped Goddess Durga for nine days in nine different aspects. The nine nights of Goddess Durga worship then came to be known as Navratris and the tenth day when Lord Rama killed Ravana, as Vijayadashmi, signifying the win of good over the evil.
With this history, I wind up my article for now. In the upcoming articles, I would be telling about the significance, beliefs and celebrations in different parts of the country. Till then , keep reading SAIKISITE. Your comments would be appreciated.