||Date of Observance: First nine nights of the waxing moon
is the Hindu festival of
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. 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
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
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
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.
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
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
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. 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
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
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. 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.
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. The procession starts
from the Mysore Palace and culminates at a place called Bannimantapa,
where the banni tree (Prosopis spicigera) is worshipped. The
Dasara festivities culminate on the night of Vijayadashami with a
torchlight parade, known locally as Panjina Kavayatthu.
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
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
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 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
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
Sabudana vada Ideal food during Navaratri fast
Makhane Ki Sabzi
Sawank Ke Chawal
Dahi Pudine Wale Aloo
Makhane Ki Sabzi
Shakarkandi Ki Chaat
Singhare Ke Pakode
Kaddu Ka Raita