Navratri festival is the joyous way of worshipping Goddess Durga. The festival is celebrated all over the country with joy and fervour. ‘Nav’ means nine and ‘Ratri’ means night. The festival is so-called as it encompasses celebrations over a period of nine nights.
The festival is celebrated over a period of nine nights and 10 days. Navratri festival is celebrated in the month of October/November. Navratri is celebrated four times a year in India- Sharada Navratri, Vasanta Navratri, Magha Navratri and Ashada Navratri. Sharada Navaratri is most famous across India.
In north-eastern and eastern states, Navratri is referred to as Durga Puja. As per the holy scriptures, the demon king Mahishasura ardently worshipped Lord Siva and attained immense powers.
He went on to commit atrocities on people. The holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva combined their powers and created goddess Durga to safeguard the world from the Mahishasura.
In northern, southern and western states, Navratri is referred to as Rama Lila or Dussehra in these regions. This symbolises the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana, as indicated in the Ramayana.
The nine days of Navratri are usually dedicated to the nine incarnations (avatars) of goddess Durga:
- The first day, Shailputri is an incarnation of goddess Parvati. Clad in red, she is depicted as the direct incarnation of Mahakali. She rides the bull Nandi with a Trishula and lotus in her hands.
- The second day, Brahmacharini is another incarnation of goddess Parvati or her unmarried self, Sati. She symbolises calmness and peace and is depicted holding a Japa mala and kamandal. The colour code for the day is blue, as it symbolises tranquillity and strength.
- The third day, Parvati, on marriage to Siva, wore the half-moon on her forehead, and Chandraghanta is a depiction of this form of the goddess. The third day is associated with the colour yellow, symbolising her vivaciousness.
- The fourth day, Kushmanda is referred to as the creative power in the universe. Hence, the colour associated with this form of the goddess is green. She rides a tiger and is depicted with eight arms.
- The fifth day, Skandamata, The mother of Lord Skanda or Kartikeya, Skandmata depicts the strength of a mother when her children are in danger. She is believed to have ridden a lion with her baby in her arms. The colour of the day is grey.
- The sixth day, Katyayani is a warrior goddess and she is depicted with four arms. She rides the lion and symbolises courage; this translates into the colour orange for day 6 of Navratri.
- Seventh-day, Mahakali is the most violent form of goddess Durga. This depicts the form goddess Parvati attained on removing her fair skin to destroy demons Nisumbha and Sumbha. The goddess is believed to have appeared in white attire and her skin turned black in rage. Hence, the colour of the day is white.
- The eighth day, Mahagauri, the goddess depicts peace and optimism on this day; hence the colour associated with the eighth day of Navratri is pink.
- Ninth day, Goddess Sidhidatri sits on a lotus and has the power of the Siddhis. She radiates wisdom and the beauty of nature and is also referred to as Saraswati Devi. The colour of this day is light blue.
People worship all these forms of the goddess and have fast for nine days in many parts of India. People make grand statues of Goddess and processions are taken place. In many places fair is held for people.
Durga puja in West Bengal is such famous that people for several places come to see the one-month grand celebration. Durga puja is a great symbol of our culture and folk diversity as a single festival is celebrated in different ways all over India.