9 Nights of Divine Celebrations (Navratri )

9 Nights of Divine Celebrations (Navratri )

Navratri is the 9 day long Hindu festival of worship and dance. In Sanskrit the word Navratri literally means nine nights. Nava means nine and Ratri means Nights. During these 9 nights nine forms of shakti (power) are worshipped. Each day is dedicated to a Goddess and has very important significance. In Gujarat it is the festival of dance. All 9 days observe dandiya and Garba (regional dance of Gujarat).

The Sharad Navratri is the most important of all three Navratris. It is celebrated during Sharad (beginning of winter, Sept-Oct). It celebrates the slaying of Mahishasura by the goddess Durga. The festival is observed in most parts of India, particularly in Northern India, Eastern India, and Western India.

The Nine day celebrations: The celebrations takes place in the form or 3 sets of 3 days. Each set dedicated to the three Goddesses. The first set of three days is dedicated to Goddess Durga (The goddess of Power), the second set of three days is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth and Prosperity) and the third set of three days is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of Arts and Education)

1st – 3rd day of Navratri – In the First three days of Navratri The goddess Durga is invoked as kali in order to destroy the evil and our impurities. Many people fast on the first and the last day only. But, there are many who fast on all nine days. The celebration starts by preparing a mud bed at the place where pooja takes place. Barley seeds are sown in it.
Each day is dedicated to an avatar of Maha Durga. First day is dedicated to Kumari, the girl child. 2nd day is dedicated to Parvati, the young woman. The third day is dedicated to Goddess Durga’s Kaali avatar in order to acquire triumph over the evil and impurities.

4th – 6th day of Navratri –On this set of three days Goddess Lakshami is worshipped. Here she is the giver of spiritual wealth and prosperity to the worshipper. She is also the symbol of peach and prosperity. It is believed that the worshipper is blessed with inexhaustible wealth, peace and prosperity. The fifth day is known as Lalita Panchami. All the literature in the house is displayed in the pooja place and a lamp is lit. Goddess Sarasvati is then invoked.

7th – 8th day of Navratri –The final set of three days are dedicated to Goddess Saraswati. Saraswati is the Goddess of Art and Education. The worshipper is blessed with immense knowledge. The eighth day is known as Durga Ashtami. Im majority of the households a Havan (holy fire) is performed. All the family members participate in this havan.

Mahanavami –The ninth day is known as Maha Navmi. The day starts by Kajak i.e. the girl Childs are fed with Puri, Halwa and Chane. There must be atleast a set nine girls. Before offering food, their feet are washed and cleaned as a symbol of respect for the Goddess Durga. On Navami all the girl child are considered to be the form of Goddess Durga. After offering food they are given clothes or fruits or money. The number of girls could be any, depending on the worshiper’s will.

The tenth day is Dussehra, also known as Ravan dahan, Dashmi, Vijay Dashmi. On the tenth day, the shoots which were sown on the first day are about 3 – 5 inches in length. These seedlings are then pulled out and given to devotees in the form of Prasad.

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