Home / Hindu Culture / Festivals


  Date of Observance:  First nine nights of the waxing moon of Ashwin



Navratri is the Hindu festival of worship and dance. In Sanskrit the term literally means "nine nights". During this festival the forms of Shakti are worshiped.

Navratri (Hindi: नवरात्री Gujarati: નવરાત્રી Bengali: নৗরাতরী Assamese:নৱৰাত্রি Marathi: नवरात्री Punjabi: ਨਰਾਤੇ Kannada: ನವರಾತರೀ Kashmiri: نَورات / नवरात Telugu: నవరాతరీ Tamil: நவராதரீ Malayalam: നവരാത്രി) is a festival dedicated to the worship of the Hindu deity Durga. The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights.[2] During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi are worshiped. The 10th day is commonly referred to as Vijayadashami or "Dussehra." Navratri is a very important and major festival in the western state of Gujarat,Maharashtra,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.

Garba dance in Ahmedabad during navaratri festivities

The beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn are considered to be important junctions of climatic and solar influence. These two periods are taken as sacred opportunities for the worship of the Divine Mother Durga. The dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar.

Navarathri represents celebration of Goddess Durga, the manifestation of Deity in form of Shakti [Energy or Power]. The Navarathri festival or ‘Nine Nights festival’ becomes ‘ten days festival’ with the addition of the last day, Vijayadashami which is its culmination. On all these ten days, the various forms of Mother Mahisasura-mardini (Durga) are worshiped with fervor and devotion.

Traditions of Navaratri
Durga Puja at Bagbazar Sarbajanin, North Kolkata.

Navaratri is celebrated five times a year. They are Vasanta Navaratri, Ashadha Navaratri, the Sharada Navaratri, and the Paush/Magha Navaratri. Of these, the Sharada Navaratri of the month of Puratashi and the Vasanta Navaratri of the Vasanta kala are very important.

1. Vasanta Navaratri: Basanta Navaratri, also known as Vasant Navaratri, is the festival of nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the spring season (March–April). It is also known as Chaitra Navaratri. The nine days of festival is also known as Raama Navratri.

2. Gupta Navaratri: Gupta Navaratri, also referred as Ashadha or Gayatri or Shakambhari Navaratri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Ashadha (June–July). Gupta Navaratri is observed during the Ashadha Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon).

3. Sharada Navaratri: This is the most important of the Navaratris. It is simply called Maha Navaratri (the Great Navratri) and is celebrated in the 'pratipada' (first day) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvina. Also known as Sharad Navaratri, as it is celebrated during Sharad (beginning of winter, September–October).

4. Paush Navaratri: Paush Navaratri is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Paush (December–January). Paush Navaratri is observed during the Paush Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon).

5. Magha Navaratri: Magha Navaratri, also referred as Gupta Navaratri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Magha (January–February). Magha Navaratri is observed during the Magha Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon).

Vasanta Navaratri
Mysore Palace in all its majesty during Dasara
Navaratri Golu, dolls and figurine display festival for girls and women in South India

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

The Story of Vasanta Navaratri
In days long gone by, King Dhruvasindhu was killed by a lion when he went out hunting. Preparations were made to crown the prince Sudarsana. But, King Yudhajit of Ujjain, the father of Queen Lilavati, and King Virasena of Kalinga, the father of Queen Manorama, were each desirous of securing the Kosala throne for their respective grandsons. They fought with each other. King Virasena was killed in the battle. Manorama fled to the forest with Prince Sudarsana and a eunuch. They took refuge in the hermitage of Rishi Bharadwaja.

The victor, King Yudhajit, thereupon crowned his grandson, Satrujit, at Ayodhya, the capital of Kosala. He then went out in search of Manorama and her son. The Rishi said that he would not give up those who had sought protection under him. Yudhajit became furious. He wanted to attack the Rishi. But, his minister told him about the truth of the Rishi’s statement. Yudhajit returned to his capital.

Fortune smiled on Prince Sudarsana. A hermit’s son came one day and called the eunuch by his Sanskrit name Kleeba. The prince caught the first syllable Kli and began to pronounce it as Kleem. This syllable happened to be a powerful, sacred Mantra. It is the Bija Akshara (root syllable) of the Divine Mother. The Prince obtained peace of mind and the Grace of the Divine Mother by the repeated utterance of this syllable. Devi appeared to him, blessed him and granted him divine weapons and an inexhaustible quiver.

The emissaries of the king of Benares passed through the Ashram of the Rishi and, when they saw the noble prince Sudarsana, they recommended him to Princess Sashikala, the daughter of the king of Benares.

The ceremony at which the princess was to choose her spouse was arranged. Sashikala at once chose Sudarsana. They were duly wedded. King Yudhajit, who had been present at the function, began to fight with the king of Benares. Devis helped Sudarsana and his father-in-law. Yudhajit mocked Her, upon which Devi promptly reduced Yudhajit and his army to ashes.

Thus Sudarsana, with his wife and his father-in-law, praised Devi. She was highly pleased and ordered them to worship her with havan and other means during the Vasanta Navarathri. Then she disappeared.

Prince Sudarsana and Sashikala returned to the Ashram of Rishi Bharadwaja. The great Rishi blessed them and crowned Sudarsana as the king of Kosala. Sudarsana and Sashikala and the king of Benares implicitly carried out the commands of the Divine Mother and performed worship in a splendid manner during the Vasanta Navarathri.

Sudarsana’s descendants, namely, Sri Rama and Lakshmana, also performed worship of Devi during the Sharada Navarathri and were blessed with Her assistance in the recovery of Sita.

Sharad Navaratri
Commences on the first and ends on the tenth day of the bright half of the lunar month Aswayuja/Asvina.

‘The Navarathri festival has to be celebrated during the bright fortnight of the month of Asvina, in the order of pratipada, etc, until the navami ends,’ says the Dhaumya-vacana.

Navarathri in the year 2012 started on 16 October 2012 and ended on 23 October 2012 with Vijayadashami celebrated on 24 October 2012.

Forms of Shakti
Nine forms of Shakti are worshipped during the Navaratris. The Devis worshipped depend on the tradition of the region.

Durga, the inaccessible one
Amba or Jagadamba, Mother of the universe
Annapoorna devi, The one who bestows grains (anna) in plenty (purna: used as subjective)
Sarvamangala, The one who gives joy (mangal) to all (sarva)
Chandika or Chandi

A photo of the Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, scion of the Wodeyar dynasty
Srikanta Datta Wadiyar, incumbent Maharaja of Mysore inaugurating first day of Mysore Dasara

The Navaratri commences on the first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvin. 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 Navratri culminates in Ram Navami and the Sharad Navaratri culminates in Durga Puja and Dussehra. The Dussehra of Kullu in Himachal Pradesh is particularly famous in the North. Navratri festival in Gujarat is one of the main festivals. Garba is dance which people use to dance after the Durga Pooja with the groups and live orchestra or devotional songs.

The last four days of Sharad Navaratri take on a particularly dramatic form in the state of West Bengal in East India where they are celebrated as Durga Puja.[4] 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.

In Western India, particularly in the state of Gujarat and Mumbai, Navratri is celebrated with the famous Garba and Dandiya-Raas dance. Since the past few years, the Government Of Gujarat has been organising the "Navratri Festival Celebrations" on a regular basis for the nine days of Navratri Festival in Gujarat. People from all over Gujarat and even abroad come to participate in the nine days celebrations. It is also popular throughout India and among Indian communities around the world including the UK, Canada and USA.

In Goa, zatra begins during Navratri, entire Antruz (Ponda) is highly ornated. The Saraswat Brahmin temples are beautifully decorated and the idols are taken out for worship. The idols are dressed and adorned with flowers, sandalwood paste, turmeric and kumkum. Devotees come during Navarathri to get the special darshan and what mostly a devotee awaits is the Kaul Prasad, which is as something given from the Gods and Goddess itself. The Deities are emblazoned with flowers and devotees or priests continue to worship the deity without even changing the flowers on them. At the end of the festive night the flowers are distributed as Prasad for the devotees. The Dasha Maitrikas (the 10 sisters of Goa) of the Saraswat Brahmins are taken out to worship - namely, Shantadurga, Aryadurga, Mahalasa, Katyayani, Mahamaya, Kamakshi, Vijayadurga, Bhumika, Mahalakshmi and Navadurga.

In South India, 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 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. Knowledge workers go for books, pen or computers, farmers go for the plough and other agricultural tools, machinery for industrialists and cars/buses/trucks for the transportation workers—all are decorated with flowers and worshiped on this day invoking God's blessing for success in coming years. It is believed that any new venture such as starting of business or purchasing of new household items on this day is bound to bring success and prosperity.

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, were first introduced by King Raja Wodeyar I in 1610.[5] On the ninth day of Dasara, called Mahanavami, the royal sword is worshipped and is taken on a procession of decorated elephants, camels and horses.[5] 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 mantapa on the back of a decorated elephant and taken on a procession, accompanied by tableaux, dance groups, music bands, decorated elephants, horses and camels.[5] The procession starts from the Mysore Palace and culminates at a place called Bannimantapa, where the banni tree (Prosopis spicigera) is worshipped.[5] The Dasara festivities culminate on the night of Vijayadashami with a torchlight parade, known locally as Panjina Kavayatthu.[5]

In Kerala, three days: Ashtami, Navami, and Vijaya Dashami of Sharad 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.

In Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh, people celebrate Bathukamma festival over a period of nine days. It is a kind of navratri celebration.

Navratri is divided into sets of three days to adore three different aspects of the supreme goddess or goddesses.
Effigy of Ravana burns

First three days
The goddess is separated as a spiritual force called Durga also known as Kali in order to destroy all our impurities.

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.

Final three days
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.

In North India, as the culmination of the Ramlila 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 Navratri, 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 Navratri and seasonal change, grains attract and absorb lots of negative energies[6] from the surrounding and therefore there is a need to avoid eating anything which are produced from grains for the purification of Navratri to be successful. Navratri 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 symbolizes the universe. The uninterrupted lit lamp is the medium through which we worship the effulgent Adishakti, i.e. Sree Durgadevi. During Navratri, the principle of Sree Durgadevi is more active in the atmosphere.

Navratri 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 Poojan, pre-pubescent girls are ceremonially worshipped.
Food during Navratri Fast

The Navratri fast is observed from the first day to the ninth day. Some devotees only observe fast during three days i.e., first fast during any one of the first three days and second fast during any one of the next three and last in any one of final three days. Some people confine to milk and fruits during the nine days. Most devotees take a single meal during the day. Non-vegetarian food is totally avoided.

Navratri Dishes
Sabudana vada Ideal food during Navaratri fast

Sabudana vada
Sabudana Khichadi
Makhane Ki Sabzi
Sawank Ke Chawal
Dahi Pudine Wale Aloo
Makhane Ki Sabzi
Shakarkandi Ki Chaat
Sabudana Papad
Banana Raita
Aloo Raita
Singhare Ke Pakode
Banana Chips
Kaddu Ka Raita
Malaiwale Kofte
Fruits/Fruit Juices
Sabudana Khir












© 2010 All Rights Reserved.