Navratri also spelled as Navaratri, is one in every of the foremost significant festivals of the Hindus celebrated all across the world. The Sanskrit word “Navratri” means ‘nine nights‘, where “nava” means nine and “ratri” means nights. Navaratri is celebrated in different ways throughout India.
The most popular Navratri which is Sharada Navaratri occurs over nine days during the month of Ashvin, or Ashvina (in the Gregorian calendar, usually September–October). It often ends with the Dussehra (also called Vijayadashami) celebration on the 10th day. The other Navratri which is Vasanta Navaratri, the second most celebrated, named after vasanta which means spring. It is observed the lunar month of Chaitra (post-winter, March–April).
Some States especially the eastern and northeastern states of India, Navratri also called as Durga Puja, wherein the ten-armed Goddess Durga emerges victorious against Mahisasura (the buffalo demon) and thus help to restore Dharma within the world. On the contrary, within the northern and western states, it’s synonymous with Rama Lila and Dussehra that remember the battle and victory of god Rama over the demon king Ravana. However, Navratri is a festival in the battle and victory of Good over Evil wherever it is celebrated.
According to legends, Lord Brahma blessed demon king Mahishasura with immortality under one condition that Mahishasura can be defeated only by a woman. Armed with the blessing of immortality and confidence, Mahishasura waged a war against the Gods. Being defeated in war at the hands of the demon king, the worried Gods prayed to Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva to help them defeat their worst enemy.
Then Lord Vishnu took the decision to create a woman as only a woman can defeat (as per Lord Brahma’s boon) the demon. Then all Gods along with the holy trinity of Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu put all their powers together in the woman Lord Vishnu had created to demolish Mahishasura. It is also believed that Goddess Durga is a reincarnation of Goddess Parvati, who is the wife of Lord Shiva. Shakti—another avatar of Goddess Parvati—is the goddess of power that runs through the universe.
Then Goddess Durga fought with Mahishasura that shook the trilok—earth, heaven and hell. The Mahishasura kept changing his form to confuse Goddess Durga during the fight,. Ultimately, when the demon took the form of a buffalo, the Goddess Durga pierced his chest with her ‘trishul’ (a forked weapon) killing him instantly after nine nights of furious battle. The tenth day became Vijaya Dashami or the celebrations of the victory of good over evil.
Different avatars of Goddess Durga is worshipped on each day of Navaratri.
Day 1 – Goddess Shailaputri is worshipped
Day 2 – Goddess Brahmacharini is worshipped
Day 3 – Goddess Chandraghanta is worshipped
Day 4 – Goddess Kushmanda is worshipped
Day 5 – Goddess Skandamata is worshipped
Day 6 – Goddess Katyayani is worshipped
Day 7 – Goddess Kalaratri is worshipped
Day 8 – Goddess Mahagauri is worshipped
Day 9 – Goddess Sidhidatri is worshipped
Navratri is celebrated differently in India’s various regions. Some people having fasting this time observed a strict vegetarian diet and abstaining from alcohol and certain spices.