Navratri: The festival of Goddesses and colors!October 6, 2018
Navratri is one of the most vibrant and joyous Hindu festivals in India. It is a nine nights and ten days festival. The word ‘Navratri’ means nine nights in Sanskrit. The festival is celebrated during the Ashvin month of the Hindu Calendar, which mostly falls in the month of October. There are numerous regional variations in the way, in which it is celebrated all around the country, different people have different beliefs and traditions. However, the one thing which is common is that it celebrates the triumph of good over evil.
The celebrations are concluded on the 10th day called Dussehra or Vijaya Dashmi. The duration of the festival relies on the lunar calendar. In some years the festival is concluded on the 8th day. There are other four festivals also called as Navratri celebrated every year at different times, but the one during autumn also known as Sharad Navratri holds great importance. The whole country is lit up during the nine-day festival. While some people observe fasts, others indulge in feasting. Devotees conduct poojas and rituals to worship the Goddesses. Women wear different colors on each day of Navratri. The first color is decided in accordance with the day on which Navratri begins, followed by a fixed cycle.
Each day of Navratri is dedicated to the worship of different Goddesses:
1st day: Goddess Shailputri is worshipped on the 1st day of Navratri. ‘Shailputri’ means the daughter of the mighty mountains. The Goddess is mounted over a bull holding a divine trident and a beautiful lotus. She is also known as Sati, Parvati, Bhavani, and Hemavati.
2nd day: On the 2nd day Goddess Brahmacharini is worshipped. This Goddess symbolizes love and loyalty and possesses abundant knowledge and wisdom. The Goddess is adorned with a Rudraksha. She holds an earthen pot and a rosary in her hands.
3rd day: Devotees pay homage to Goddess Chandraghanta on the 3rd day. Chandraghanta means bliss and knowledge. The goddess possesses a majestic and fierce appearance with 10 hands and 3 eyes. She is mounted over a tiger and is an epitome of strength and courage.
4th day: Goddess Kushmanda is worshipped on the 4th day. Mounted on a tiger with weapons in her hand this Goddess symbolizes valor and courage. Her name means warmth and cosmic energy. She blesses her devotees with health, wealth and strength.
5th day: Devotees bow down before Goddess Skandamata on the 5th day. She is mounted on a lion with her son ‘Skand’ in her lap. She has 3 eyes and 4 hands, two of which holds lotuses. It is believed that when Goddess Skandamata bestows devotees with her mercy, they become knowledgeable and wise.
6th day: Goddess Katyayani is worshipped on the 6th day. She has a golden hue on her skin. It was believed that she stayed at the Ashram of sage Katyayan for penance, that is how she got her name. She is mounted on a lion and possesses 3 eyes and 4 arms holding weapons and a lotus.
7th day: Goddess Kalaratri is honored on the 7th day. She has a dusky complexion and lustrous black hair. She possesses 4 hands out of which two are holding a cleaver and torch and the other two portraying mudras representing ‘giving’ and ‘protection’.
8th day: Goddess Mahagauri is worshipped on the 8th day. She has a charming milk-white complexion. She is dressed in a green or white saree. Her aura emanates peace and compassion. She is mounted over a bull holding a drum and a trident.
9th day: On the last day, Goddess Siddhidatri is worshipped. She gracefully sits on a lotus and possesses 4 arms. It is believed that she has the power to grant 26 different wishes to her devotees. Her name means supernatural powers and meditative ability.
All the goddesses are worshipped with great fervor and devotion during Navratri! Some of the best places to visit during Navratri are West Bengal for the iconic Durga Pooja, Gujarat for the exuberant Garba performances, Mysore for the vibrant Dussehra celebrations and Kullu for the renowned International Mega Dussehra festival