Navratri

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"Navarathri" redirects here. For the Tamil film starring Sivaji Ganesan, see Navarathri (1964 film). For the Telugu film starring Akkineni Nageswara Rao, see Navarathri (1966 film).
Navratri festival
Navratri festival Durga and Rama traditions.jpg
Navratri celebrates either Durga or Rama depending on the region[1]
Also called Durga Puja, Dussehra
Observed by Hindus
Type Hindu festival
Celebrations 9 to 10 days
Observances stage setting, prayers, plays, image immersion or bonfire
Begins Ashvin Shukla Prathama
Ends Ashvin Shukla Navami
2017 date 21 Sep, Thu – 29 Sep, Fri
(Vijayadashami: 30 Sep, Sat)
2018 date 9 Oct, Tue – 17 Oct, Wed
(Vijayadashami: 18 Oct, Thu)
Frequency annual
Related to Shaktism, Vaishnavism

Navratri (Sanskrit: नवरात्रि, literally "nine nights"), also spelled Navaratri, is a multi-day Hindu festival celebrated in the autumn every year. It is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian subcontinent.[2][1] Theoretically, there are four seasonal Navratri. However, in practice, it is the post-monsoon harvest autumn festival called Sharad Navratri that is the most observed in the honor of the divine feminine Devi (Durga). The festival is celebrated in the bright half of the Hindu calendar month Ashvin, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October.[2][3]

In the eastern and northeastern states of India, the Durga Puja is synonymous with Navratri, wherein goddess Durga battles and emerges victorious over the buffalo demon to help restore Dharma. In the northern and western states, the festival is synonymous with "Rama Lila" and Dussehra that celebrates the battle and victory of god Rama over the demon king Ravana.[1] In southern states, the victory of different goddesses, of Rama or Saraswati is celebrated. In all cases, the common theme is the battle and victory of Good over Evil based on a regionally famous epic or legend such as the Ramayana or the Devi Mahatmya.[2][3]

Celebrations include stage decorations, recital of the legend, enacting of the story, and chanting of the scriptures of Hinduism. On the final day, called the Vijayadashami or Dussehra, the statues are either immersed in a water body such as river and ocean, or alternatively the statue symbolizing the evil is burnt with fireworks marking evil's destruction. The festival also starts the preparation for one of the most important and widely celebrated Diwali, the festival of lights, which is celebrated twenty days after the Vijayadashami or Dussehra.[4][5][1]

Etymology and nomenclature[edit]

The word Navratri means 'nine nights' in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights.[6]

Celebrations[edit]

Navratri commences on the first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashwini. The festival is celebrated for nine nights once every year during in October, although as the dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar, the festival may be held for a day more or a day less.

In India, this festival holds different meanings for each state, and hence is celebrated differently in different parts of the same country.

Navratri Day Day Form of Goddess Tithi Pujan Colour
Navratri Day 1 Pratipada Shailaputri Ghatasthapana Shailputri Puja Grey
Navratri Day 2 Dwitiya Brahmacharini Chandra Darshana Brahmacharini Pujan Orange
Navratri Day 3 Tritiya Chandraghanta Sindoora Tritiya, Sowbhagya Teej Chandraghanta Puja White
Navratri Day 4 Chaturthi Kushmanda Varada Vinayaka Chauthurthi Bhouma Chaturthi Red
Navratri Day 5 Panchami Skandamata Lalita Panchami Upanga Lalita Vratam, Lalitha Gauri Vratam, Skandamata Puja Navy Blue
Navratri Day 6 Shashthi Katyayini Maha Shashti Saraswati Awahanam, Katyayani Puja Yellow
Navratri Day 7 Saptami Kaalaratri Maha Saptami Saraswati Puja, Kalaratri Puja, Utsava Puja Green
Navratri Day 8 Ashtami Mahagauri Durga Ashtami, Maha Ashtami Saraswati Mata Puja, Mahagauri Puja, Sandhi Puja Peacock Green
Navratri Day 9 Navami Siddhidatri Khande Navami, Durga Visarjana, Maha Navami Ayudha Puja, Kanya puja Purple

Traditions of Navaratri[edit]

Durga Puja at Bagbazar Sarbajanin, North Kolkata.

Navaratri is celebrated five times a year. They are Vasanta Navaratri, Ashadha Navaratri, the Sharada Navaratri, the Pausha/Magha Navaratri and the Magha Navaratri. Of these, the Sharada Navaratri of the month of Puratashi and the Vasanta Navaratri of the Vasanta kala are the most important. The other two are observed by shaktas only.

  1. Vasanta Navaratri: Vasanta Navaratri, its nine days are dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Chaitra (March–April) and is observed during the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon) of Chaitra. The beginning of this Navaratri also marks the start of the new year as per the Hindu mythological lunar calendar (Vikrami Samvata).
  2. Ashada Navaratri  : Ashada Navaratri, also referred to as Gupta, Gayatri or Shakambhari Navaratri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Ashadha (June–July). It is observed during the Ashadha Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon). This is mostly observed by shaktas only
  3. Sharada Navaratri: This is the most important of the Navaratris. It is simply called Maha Navaratri (the Great Navaratri) and is celebrated in the 'pratipada' (first day) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvini. Also known as Sharada Navaratri, as it is celebrated during Sharada (beginning of winter, September–October).
  4. Pausha Navaratri: Pausha Navaratri is observed during the Pausha Shukla Paksha, the waxing phase of moon, in the month of December–January.
  5. Magha Navaratri: The Magha Navaratri is also a kind of Gupta Navaratri. The waxing phase of moon in January–February marks the beginning of Magha Navaratri.

Vasanta Navaratri[edit]

Navaratri Golu, dolls and figurine display festival for girls and women in India
Devi Shakthi at Parashakthi Temple, Pontiac, USA adorned as Goddesses Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswathi during Navarathri

This is celebrated during Vasanta Rhitu (beginning of spring) (March – April). This is also known as Chaitra navarathri as it falls during the lunar month of Chaitra.

Practices[edit]

[[File: Srikanta Wadiyar of Mysore.jpg|180px|thumb|alt=A photo of the Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, scion of the Wodeyar dynasty|[[late Srikanta Datta

Narsimharaja Wodeyar|Late Srikanta Datta Wadiyar]], Former Maharaja of Mysore inaugurating first day of Mysore Dasara]]

The Sharada Navratri commences on the first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvini. The festival is celebrated for nine nights once every year during the beginning of October, although as the dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar, the festival may be held for a day more or a day less.

Navaratri is celebrated in different ways throughout India. In North India, all three Navaratris are celebrated with much fervor by fasting on all nine days and worshiping the Mother Goddess in her different forms. The Chaitra Navaratri culminates in Rama Navami and the Sharada Navaratri culminates in Durga Puja and Dussehra. The Dussehra of Kullu in Himachal Pradesh is particularly famous in the North. Navaratri festival in Gujarat is one of the main festivals. Garba is a dance which people perform on all nine nights, after the Durga Pooja, in groups accompanied by live orchestra or devotional songs.

The last four days of Sharada Navaratri take on a particularly dramatic form in the state of West Bengal in eastern India where they are celebrated as Durga Puja.[7] This is the biggest festival of the year in this state. Exquisitely crafted and decorated life-size clay idols of the Goddess Durga depicting her slaying the demon Mahishasura are set up in temples and other places. These idols are then worshiped for five days and immersed in the river on the fifth day.

Goa[edit]

In the temples of Goa, on the first day of the seventh month of the Hindu calendar Ashwini, in temples (and some households), a copper pitcher is installed surrounded by clay in which nine varieties of food grains are sown inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. All the nine nights are celebrated by presenting devotional songs, and through religious discourses. Later in the night the idol of the goddess is put in a specially-decorated colourful swing,known as Makhar in Konkani and for nine nights, this swing is being swung to the tune of temple music (called as ranavadya) by devotees who throng in large numbers to participate in the festival.This spectacular ritual accompanied by an orchestra of musical instrument and waving of lamps is called Makharotsav.[8][9]

Makharotsav in a Goan temple during Navaratri

Maharashtra[edit]

In Maharashtra, on the first day of month of Ashwini, Ghatasthapana is celebrated. An earthen pot is filled with water surrounded by clay in which foodgrains are sown and are allowed to sprout for nine days. Five stems of jowar are also placed over the pot. This arrangement is called the "Ghat". The ladies worship the pot for nine days by offering rituals and a garland of flowers, leaves, fruits, dry-fruits, etc. with a naivedya, and water is offered in order to get the seeds sprouted. Some families also celebrate Kaali pujan on days 1 and 2, Laxmi pujan on days 3, 4, 5 and Saraswati puja on days 6, 7, 8, 9 along with Ghatasthapana. On the eighth day, a "Yajna" or "Hom" is performed in the name of Goddess Durga. On ninth day, the Ghat puja is done and the Ghat is dissolved after taking off the sprouted leaves of the grains. In many families, a woman from Matang community is called and offered food and blessings are sought from her. She is considered as a form of the Goddess "Matangi". This process is called "पात्रं भरणे" in Marathi. On the occasion of Dasara or Vijayadashmi, the men go to the forest or farm and bring the leaves of the tree Apta. They worship iron in the form of utensils, weapons, etc. The iron equipments are washed and offered leaves of Apta called gold or "sona" and also leaves of the grains which were sprouted. On this day, a process called Vidyarambhan meaning beginning of learning takes place when small children are to write first alphabet.

In Tamil Nadu, people set up steps and place idols on them. This is known as golu. Photos of typical golu displayed in Tamil Nadu style can be found here.In the evening women in neighborhood invite each other to visit their homes to view Kolu displays, they exchange gifts and sweets. Kuthuvilakku lamp is lit, in the middle of a decorated Rangoli, devotional hymns and shlokas are chanted. After performing the puja, the food items that have been prepared are offered to the Goddess and then to the guests.On the 9th day Saraswati Puja, special pujas are offered to Goddess Saraswati, the divine source of wisdom and enlightenment. Books and musical instruments are placed in the puja and worshipped as a source of knowledge Ayudha Pooja, the worship of vehicles and instruments is the most important festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu on Navami day .Almost all mechanic shops, heavy industries celebrate ayudha Pooja to thank their instruments On this day one can see autos decorated with banana leaves and pumpkins broken.The 10th day, Vijayadasami – is the most auspicious day of all. It was the day on which evil was finally destroyed by good. It marks a new and prosperous beginning. New ventures started on this day are believed to flourish and bring prosperity. Kids often start tutoring on this day to have a head start in their education.

In the evening of "Vijayadasami", any one doll from the "Kolu" is symbolically put to sleep and the Kalasa is moved a bit towards North to mark the end of that year's Navaratri Kolu. Prayers are offered to thank God for the successful completion of that year's Kolu and with a hope of a successful one the next year. Then the Kolu is dismantled and packed up for the next year.

In temples of Tamil Nadu, navaratri is celebrated for the Devi's dwelling in each temples, The utsava murthy is decorated and vedic offerings are performed, Following by Chandi homa. Popular Tamil Nadu temples celebrating navaratri are Madurai madurai meenakshi temple, Chennai kapaleeswarar temple, Kulasekarapattinam devi temple, Perambur Ellaiamman temple, Srirangam Ranganathan temple.

Karnataka[edit]

In Karnataka, Ayudha Puja, the ninth day of Mysore Dasara, is celebrated with the worship of implements used in daily life such as computers, books, vehicles, or kitchen tools. The effort to see the divine in the tools and objects one uses in daily life is central to this celebration, so it includes all tools that help one earn one's livelihood.

Mysore is well known for the festivities that take place during the period of Dasara, the state festival of Karnataka. The Dasara festivities, which are celebrated over a ten-day period, it made official festival of the state by King Raja Wodeyar I in 1610.[10] On the ninth day of Dasara, called Mahanavami,[11] the royal sword is worshipped and is taken on a procession of decorated elephants, camels and horses.[10] On the tenth day, called Vijayadashami, the traditional Dasara procession (locally known as Jumboo Savari) is held on the streets of Mysore. An image of the Goddess Chamundeshwari is placed on a golden howdah on the back of a decorated elephant and taken on a procession, accompanied by tableaux, dance groups, music bands, decorated elephants, horses and camels.[10] The procession starts from the Mysore Palace and culminates at a place called Bannimantapa, where the banni tree (Prosopis spicigera) is worshipped.[10] The Dasara festivities culminate on the night of Vijayadashami with a torchlight parade, known locally as Panjina Kavayatthu.[10]

Kerala[edit]

In Kerala and in some parts of Karnataka three days: Ashtami, Navami, and Vijaya Dashami of Sharada Navarathri are celebrated as Sarasvati Puja in which books are worshiped. The books are placed for Puja on the Ashtami day in own houses, traditional nursery schools, or in temples. On Vijaya Dashami day, the books are ceremoniously taken out for reading and writing after worshiping Sarasvati. Vijaya Dashami day is considered auspicious for initiating the children into writing and reading, which is called Vidyarambham. Tens of thousands of children are initiated into the world of letters on this day in Kerala.

Telangana[edit]

In Telangana, people celebrate Bathukamma festival over a period of nine days. In contrast to navaratri celebrations elsewhere, this festival starts on the New moon or Amavasya of Lunar month of Bhadrapada, a day before where Navratri starts in other regions of first day Shaka month of Ashwini. Here Navaratri is divided into sets of three days to adore three different aspects (Tridevi) of the supreme goddess or goddesses.

Effigy of Ravana being burnt

First three days: The goddess is separated a spiritual force called Durga also known as Kali in order to destroy all our evil and grant boons.

Second 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 inexhaustible wealth, as she is the goddess of wealth.

Last three days:

Effigy of Ravana being burnt
See also: Kanya Puja

The final set of three days is spent in worshiping the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati. In order to have all-round success in life, believers seek the blessings of all three aspects of the divine femininity, hence the nine nights of worship.

Eighth day is traditionally Durgashtami which is big in Bengal and Bihar.

In some parts of South India, Saraswati puja is performed on the 9th day. Ayudha Puja is conducted in many parts of South India on the Mahanavami (Ninth) day with much fanfare. Weapons, agricultural implements, all kinds of tools, equipments, machinery and automobiles are decorated and worshipped on this day along with the worship of Goddess. The work starts afresh from the next day, i.e. the 10th day which is celebrated as 'Vijaya Dashami'. Many teachers/Schools in south India start teaching Kindergarten children from that day onwards.

North India[edit]

In North India, as the culmination of the Ramalila which is enacted ceremoniously during Dussehra, the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna, and Meghanada are burnt to celebrate the victory of good (Rama) over evil forces on the 'Vijaya Dashami' day.

During Navaratri, some devotees of Durga observe a fast and prayers are offered for the protection of health and prosperity. Devotees avoid meat, alcoholic drinks, grains, wheat and onion during this fast. Grains are usually avoided since it is believed that during the period of Navaratri and seasonal change, grains attract and absorb lots of negative energies[12] from the surrounding and therefore there is a need to avoid eating anything which are produced from grains for the purification of Navaratri to be successful. Navaratri is also a period of introspection and purification, and is traditionally an auspicious and religious time for starting new ventures.

During this vowed religious observance, a pot is installed (ghatasthapana) at a sanctified place at home. A lamp is kept lit in the pot for nine days. The pot symbolises the universe. The uninterrupted lit lamp is the medium through which we worship the effulgent Adishakti, i.e. Sree Durgadevi. During Navaratri, the principle of Sree Durgadevi is more active in the atmosphere.[13]

Navaratri is celebrated in a large number of Indian communities. The mother goddess is said to appear in 9 forms, and each one is worshiped for a day. These nine forms signify various traits that the goddess influences us with. The Devi Mahatmya and other texts invoking the Goddess who vanquished demons are cited.

During the eight or ninth day, Kanya Puja, pre-pubescent girls are ceremonially worshipped.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Christopher John Fuller (2004). The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India. Princeton University Press. pp. 108–109. ISBN 978-0-69112-04-85. 
  2. ^ a b c Encyclopedia Britannica 2015.
  3. ^ a b James G. Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 468-469.
  4. ^ Susan B. Gall; Irene Natividad (1995). The Asian-American Almanac. Gale Research. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-8103-9193-2. 
  5. ^ Rina Singh (2016). Diwali. Orca. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-1-4598-1008-2. 
  6. ^ "What is Navaratri and Durga Puja". NavaratriFestival. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "10 Days with the Mother Goddess: Navaratri, Durga Puja & Dusshera". Hinduism.about.com. 10 April 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  8. ^ "Marcel displays colourful and vivid tradition of Makharotsav". timesofindia.indiatimes.com/. Times of India. Retrieved 26 September 2016. 
  9. ^ Kerkar, Rajendra P. "In Goa, Navaratri marks worship of earth mother goddess". Oct 17, 2012, 05.37 am IST. Times of India:Goa. Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Sharma, Ravi. "Mysore Dasara: A historic festival". Frontline. The Hindu. 22 (21). Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  11. ^ Shirgaonkar, Varsha. ""Madhyayugin Mahanavami aani Dasara"." Chaturanga, Loksatta (1996).
  12. ^ "Why Do We Avoid Grains And Wheat During Navaratri". Navratrifestival.net. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  13. ^ Rodrigues, Hillary (2003). Ritual Worship of the Great Goddess: The Liturgy of the Durga Puja with interpretation. Albany, New York, USA: State University of New York Press. p. 83. ISBN 07914-5399-5. Retrieved 26 October 2015. 

Bibliography[edit]