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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; dances 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.

Why is Navratri Celebrated? | History and Origin of Navratri

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

North India Legend

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 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 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

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

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 blessing 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, and virtue over misdeed, Navratri also has strong fertility associations. Ma Shakti is worshipped as the giver and one who nourishes all her children.

Significance of Navratri

Navratri is an exciting festival. As the festival starts on the one side it brings business for merchants, peace, prosperity, and happiness for common people on the other side this festival is very important for priest devotees and 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 is, 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 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 the Navratri festival, goddess Durga comes 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 to by family and food is served in our home.