Celebrated In: India in Spring Season
Celebrated By: Hindu (Hindu)
Chaitra Navratri: A Festival of strength, peace and belief :
Chaitra Navratri is celebrated all over India in the month of Chaitra as per the Hindu lunar calendar. The auspicious festival is popularly known as Vasant Navratri as it is celebrated in the spring season or ‘Vasant Ritu’. The festival of Navratri continues up to nine days, just like the Sharadiya Navratri, which is celebrated in the beginning of the winter season. The ninth day of Chaitra Navratri is celebrated as Ram Navmi; the birthday of Lord Ram. Chaitra Navratri is celebrated with great enthusiasm in northern India; in Maharashtra the beginning of Chaitra Navratri is called ‘Gudi Padwa’ where as it is popularly known as ‘Ugadi’ in Andhra Pradesh.
As per Hindu lunar calendar, the Navratri falls twice a year; the first one in the Spring Season and the second one in the beginning of winter season or during ‘Sharad Ritu’. Both the Navratris have the same rituals. The festival of Navratri is dedicated to Goddess Durga who is also known as the incarnation of Goddess Parvati. The name Durga has been derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Durgati’, which literally bad luck. So ‘Devi Durga’ is the Goddess who saves her devotees from all the bad luck and dangers approaching towards them.
Maa Durga and Navratri:
Goddess Durga is popularly called as ‘Maa Durga’ as she protects her devotees from all the misfortunes and dangers like a mother does for her children. She is the most revered and the most powerful Hindu Goddess. Devi Durga is the incarnation of Goddess Parvati and popularly known as ‘Mahishamardini’. Goddess Parvati took birth as “Durga” to kill an evil demon named ‘Mahishasur’. He was a demon having a face like a buffalo and was a staunch worshipper of Lord Brahma.
Mahishhasur was booned by Lord Brahma that nobody can kill him; especially a man cannot kill him. But Brahma warned him that a woman would be the reason of his death. The demons ego did not let him to believe that he would be killed by a woman. Bewildered with his powers he started threatening people and also killed them mercilessly. The Gods decided to wage a war against him but nobody could defeat him because of Lord Brahma’s boon.
So all the ‘Devtas’ prayed Lord Bishnu to come into the rescue. He ‘Trinity’; Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva both combined their powers to create a female Goddess who can kill Mahishasur. From their super powers Devi Durga took birth as the incarnation of Devi Parvati. She was born with ten hands and that why got the name as ‘DasaBhujaa’. She got different weapons from different gods to hold in her ten different hands.
She waged a war against the evil demon Mahishasur, which lasted up to 15 days. The demn kept on changing his shape into different animals to misguide the Goddess. Finally Goddess Durga stabbed him with the ‘Trident’ (which she obtained from Lord Shiva), when he transformed himself into the real version of him; a buffalo. He was defeated and killed on the day of ‘Dussehra’. Finally good wins over the evil on ‘Dussehra’.
Since then people worshipped and revered the most powerful Goddess ‘Devi Durga’ during Dussehra in Sharad Ritu as well as in Vasanta Ritu. Devotees keep fast for nine days and worship nine ‘Swaroop’ (forms) of Maa Durga during Navratri.
Rituals of Chaitra Navratri:
Ghat Sthapna Puja is the first ritual conducted on the first morning of the Navratri. This ritual starts with establishing the Idol or Photograph of Goddess Durga at the venue for worship for the period of 9 days. Kalash Sthapna is the holy ritual where a brass or earthen pitcher is decorated with mango leaves and capped with a coconut. The place is sanctified with holy Ganga water.
After ‘Kalash Sthapana’ at home, devotees perform Durga Aarti and chanting mantras and keep Navratri fasts for nine days. They offer flowers and chant ‘Durga Kawach’ and ‘Durga Chalisa’ to please the Goddess.
Durga Aarti, the holy hymns are recited twice every day to the goddess at the place of Kalash establishment. The ideal times for the Aarti are early in the morning and late evening. Aarti is a blissful oblivion for each and every Hindu; hence Durga Aarti is chanted daily during Puja time.
The sacred Book of Durga Saptashati is read by sitting in front of Kalash establishment. The verse is ‘the sayings and teachings of the goddess Durga in her own words where she tells her devotees about a sacred way of following the rituals.
On the 7th, 8th and 9th Day of the Navratris people invite small girls from the neighbourhood and feed them with halwa, puri and chane (grams), which is popularly known as ‘Kanya Pujan’. After feeding then people touch their feet.
Significance of Different Days of Navratri:
For the nine days of Navratri, Goddess Durga is worshipped in nine different avatars (forms), such as: 1. Shailputri, 2. Brahmacharini, 3. Chandraghanta, 4. Kushmanda, 5. Skanda Mata, 6. Katyayani, 7. Kalratri, 8. Maha Gauri, 9. Siddhidatri.
Basing on different days of the week, people dress themselves with different colours of clothes.
First Day (Pratipada): Colour to wear on this day is yellow.
On the first day Devi Durga is worshipped as Shailaputri, the daughter of king of mountains; Kailash. She is also revered as the consort of Lord Shiva; the Shakti.
Second Day (Dwitiya): Green colour is preferred to be worn on this day.
On this day the Goddess is worshipped as Brahmacharini, by holding a ‘Kumbha’ in one hand and a rosary on the other hand. She personifies love, wisdom and knowledge on this day.
Third Day (Tritiya): colour of this day is grey.
Goddess Durga is revered as Chandraghanta, by possessing ten hands and a golden hue around her. She holds eight weapons on her eight hands and other two hands are kept in two different ‘Mudras’.
Fourth day (Chaturthi): Colour to be worn on this day is orange.
People revere the Goddess as Kushmanda, wherein she mounts on a tiger and eliminates an aura of solar energy.
Fifth Day (Panchami): Colour of Panchami is white.
Maa Skanda Mata is worshipped on this day holding her son and possessing three eyes and four hands in both defending and granting gestures.
Sixth Day (Shasthi): people prefer to wear Red colour on this day.
Devi Durga is worshipped as Devi Katyayani, holding a weapon in one hand and a lotus in other. She adorns a golden complexion on this day.
Seventh Day (Saptami): The colour of Saptami is Royal blue.
The Goddess adorns a black skin with bounting hair, four hands, two clutching cleaver and a torch. She stands in protecting and giving Mudras.
Eighth Day (Asthami): Colour to wear on this day is Pink.
On this day Devi Durga adorns the fairest complexion and exhibits peace and compassion. She holds a trident on her hands on this day.
Ninth Day (Navmi): Colour of this day is Purple.
The Goddess is worshipped as Siddhidatri and blesses her devotees with 26 different wishes, sitting on a lotus.