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Why Is Navratri Celebrated | History & Significance

 Navratri is one of the Most Important Hindu Festivals in India. Navratri is a religious festival dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga. this festival is also known as Durga Puja. The festival has its unique importance since we offer prayer to unmarried young girls in the form of the goddess. This festival is celebrated with pomp and excitement as cultural programs; dance and fairs are organized at various public places in India. This festival is also known for its spiritual importance. Let us know a little more detail about Navratri.

why is navratri celebrated
Why is Navratri Celebrated?

Spiritual Meaning of Navratri

'Navratri' means 'nine nights.' 'Nava' means 'nine,’ and 'Ratri' means 'night.'

The prayer, chanting, and meditation performed during Navratri connect us with our spirit. Getting in touch with the spirit invokes positive qualities within us and destroys laziness, pride, obsession, cravings, and aversions. When stress in the form of negative emotions is destroyed, we experience the deep rest of the transforming nine nights.

Significance of Navratri

Navratri is an exciting festival. As the festival starts on the one side it brings business for merchants, peace and prosperity and happiness for common people on the other side of this festival is very important for priest devotees and the people who have deep faith in spirituality.

Spiritual Significance of Navratri

'Navratri' means 'Nine Nights.' 'Nava' means 'Nine,’ and 'Ratri' means 'Night.' As we know that Night provides rest and rejuvenation. During the night, you turn inwards through sleep, and you wake up feeling refreshed and rested in the morning. In the same way, Navratri or the ‘nine nights’ is that time of the year when you get the chance to experience deep rest. 

During Navratri, even the subtle energies in the environment enhance and assist one’s experience of reaching the spirit. The prayer, chanting, meditation, fasting, and other spiritual practices performed during Navratri connect us with our spirit. Getting in touch with the spirit invokes positive qualities within us and destroys laziness, pride, obsession, cravings, and aversions. When stress in the form of negative emotions is destroyed, we experience the deep rest of the transforming nine nights.

Moreover, there are six distortions, or vices of the mind:

  • Kama (desire), 
  • Krodha (anger), 
  • Lobha (greed), 
  • Moha (infatuation)
  • Mada (arrogance), and 
  • Matsarya (jealousy).

These distortions can go out of control in any human being, and become an obstacle on the spiritual path. They can be dissolved during these Nine Days of Navratri, with the grace of Shakti. Tapasya or Upasana are, therefore, performed during these nine days.


Cultural Significance of Navratri

During festival days, cultural programs are organized at various places, especially in Gujarat. All the festivals have their cultural importance. Likewise, Navratri has the same. During Navratri festivals, cultural programs are organized at various places throughout India. Garba dance program in Gujarat, Durga puja cultural programs in West Bengal.

Traditional Significance of Navratri

In India, as we celebrate the festival, we always follow the traditional way of celebration. In the Hindu festival during when the ritual is performed during Puja, we use traditional earthen pots. They believe that since it is a holy puja for god, so we should use new pots, clothes, and food items. Therefore we use earthen pots and then we don’t use them again for puja.

Women Empowerment

The beauty in the Hindu religion is that we find god in everything, whether living or non-living. And Navratri festival is the festival that empowers respect towards women and girls.

It is believed that during Navratri festival, goddess Durga come to our young girls to accept prayers in our home. Therefore on the eighth or ninth day of the Navratri festival, 9 young girls are invited to our family. They are supposed to be the form of the goddess Durga and treated in the same way. They are prayed by family and food is served in our home.


Why is Navratri Celebrated? | History and Origin of Navratri

 There is some history of Navratri or you can say as the story of Navratri celebration in north India, east India and other parts of the region.

North India (Why is Navratri Celebrated?)

The most prevalent legend is the story of Mahishasura, the buffalo-headed demon king, who pleased Lord Shiva and was, granted the boon that he would be invincible and undefeatable by any man. But soon, Mahishasura set out on a rampage killing people for no reason and even driving out the deva out of ‘heaven’.

The Gods collectively went to Lord Shiva and pray him to do something, to protect the people. Thus, the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva invested their powers in energy that took the form of Goddess Durga to conquer the demon Mahishasura.

The Gods also offered her their distinct weapons such as the ax and the sword. Mahishasura was taken in by Goddess Durga's beauty and approached her for marriage.

The Goddess agreed but set forth a challenge that he defeats her in a battle, and then she will get married. The battle lasted for nine nights and on the ninth night, Goddess Durga beheaded Mahishasura. The nine nights came to be known as Navratri, while the tenth day was called Vijayadashmi, the final day when truth and goodness prevail over evil.


East India Legend (Why is Navratri Celebrated?)

This is related to the famous legend of Sati. The king of the Himalayas, Daksha had a daughter named Uma. She wished to marry Lord Shiva and did penance to please him. When Lord Shiva came to marry her, his intimidating countenance (clothed in tiger skin with snakes around his neck) and that of the people accompanying him disconcerted Daksha.

Later, when he organized a grand-scale ‘yagna’, he deliberately refrained from inviting his daughter and son-in-law. Realizing the magnitude of the insult, Uma immolated herself in the ‘Agni Kund’.

Shiva became furious and did Tandava dance with Uma on his shoulder. The dance unleashed the forces of destruction, enough to threaten nature’s balance.

To end Shiva’s destructive anger, Narayana cut Uma's body and the different parts of her charred body fell in different parts of the country and the world. The places where the parts fell are worshipped today as ‘Shakti Peeths’ and she came to be known as Sati.

Brahma reassured Shiva that Uma will take re-birth and unite with Lord Shiva as his consort. In her reincarnation, she fulfilled her destiny. Hence, Navratri is celebrated as the homecoming of Uma with Ganesh, Kartik, Saraswati, and Lakshmi along with companions Jaya and Bijaya during Sharad Ritu.


The Lotus Legend of Rama and Ravana (Why is Navratri Celebrated?)

As per the epic Ramayana, at the behest of Narada Muni, Lord Rama worshipped Goddess Durga in her nine aspects to earn the blessings of Ma Shakti to defeat Ravana, the powerful king of Lanka who had abducted Sita. He continued his puja for nine days and nights with lotuses.

He was short of one lotus and thought of offering his eye to overcome the shortfall, when Ma Durga appeared before him, urging him not to make the sacrifice and blessed him. On the tenth day, Lord Rama was successful in killing Ravana.

The nine days are observed ritualistically as Navratri by devotees and the tenth day is celebrated as ‘Vijayadashmi’ or ‘Dussehra’, when good triumphed over evil.

Apart from the eternal message of good over evil, virtue over misdeed, Navratri also has strong fertility associations. Ma Shakti is worshipped as the giver and one who nourishes all her children.


Navratri Mantra

A mantra can be a syllable or a group of words that has spiritual power. In Hindu religious Mantras practice denote vibration which has the power to align the chakras in the human body. These mantras help the human mind to evolve into a higher level of consciousness.

Navratri Mantra includes those included in the text 'Durga Saptashati'. Navratri's mantra is associated with the principle of purification. However, the quantum of effects depends on the level of sincerity with which the mantra is recited. During Navratri, devotees repeat the universal Navratri mantra for the invocation of Maa Durga, which is-

 'Aim hreem kleem chamundaye vichche'

Each mantra follows a pattern of rhythm, as in the number of syllables to create a certain effect. Hence the powerful Navratri mantra has to be recited with the right intonation and with full reverence.


Navratri Colours

Each year, we get a different set of colours to be followed for each day in Navratri. In Maharashtra and Gujarat girls and ladies and even some enthusiast men follow the colours by wearing a Saree or dress of the colour of the day. This is followed throughout from the first day to the Ninth Day of Navratri.

Since each day is dedicated to one particular form of Goddess Durga, each day has significance in terms of colour also. Devotees not only wear those coloured dresses for that day but also decorate the idol of Goddess in that particular colour. The devotees offer a particular coloured Saree to the Goddess on each day. Each colour has a significance of its own and represents different forms of the Goddess. Know about Nine Colours of Navratri.


Navratri Preparation

As the Navratri festival get closer, people start preparing for this holy festival. Markets are decorated with goddess Durga idols, Chunri, goddess Durga prayer books, photos and banners and other puja materials.

The home is well cleaned. The temple on the home is refurnished and decorated with LED light and a bulb. The idols of goddess Durga are placed in the center. And Kalas Sthapna is done by the main priest in every home.

The special prayer is organized from the day first of Navratri morning and continued in the evening and morning till the 9th day. During these days the family member keeps fasting, prayer and meditation do jap of mantra from Durga Saptashati


Nine Days of Navratri

Shailputri - The Navratri starts with the first day devoted to the puja of Maa "Shailputri". The daughter of the king of mountain Himavan.

BrahmachariniNavratri's Second day is devoted to the puja of Maa Brahmacharini. Maa Brahmacharini is a storehouse of knowledge and wisdom. Rudraksha is her most adorned ornament.

ChandraghantaNavratri's third day is devoted to Maa Chandraghanta. Chandra + Ghanta, meaning supreme bliss and knowledge, showering peace and serenity, like a cool breeze in a moonlit night.

KushmandaNavratri fourth day is worshipped to Maa "Kushmanda". . "Kush+ Manda" means to see cosmic vivacity in Pindi shape or knowledge of cosmic intricacies in the human race.

SkandamataNavratri's fifth day is worshipped to Maa Skandamata. It’s said that by the mercy of Maa "Skandmata", even the idiot becomes an ocean of knowledge such as "Kalidas".

KatyayaniNavratri's sixth day is devoted to Maa Katyayani.

KalaratriNavratri's seventh day is worshipped to Maa Kalaratri. The destroyer of darkness and ignorance, "Kalaratri" is the seventh form of Nav-Durga meaning scourer of darkness or enemy of darkness.

MahagauriNavratri's eighth day is devoted to Maa Mahagauri. The peace and compassion radiate from her blessings and she often dressed up in a white or green sari.

SiddhidatriNavratri's ninth day is worshipped to Maa Siddhidatri.


Navratri Celebration

Navratri is an important and major festival in the western states of India: Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Karnataka during which the traditional dance of Gujarat called "Garba" is widely performed. This festival is celebrated with great zeal in North India as well, including Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and the northern state of Punjab