Navratri festivities committed to the worship of the Hindu deity Durga, a Sanskrit word meaning inaccessible also known as Devi, Shakti and by numerous other names, is a principal and popular form of Hindu goddess believed to be original manifested form of Mother Parvati or Adhi-Parshakti. The word Navratri means 'Nine Nights', In Sanskrit 'Nava' means nine and 'Ratri' meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Devi are worshipped. It is celebrated in various parts of India in different styles. But the one of the basic aim of this celebration is to propitiate Shakti in her aspect as power, to bestow upon man all wealth, auspiciousness, prosperity, knowledge (both sacred and secular), and all other potent powers. The man, the imperfect, the bound, the sorrowful, has a thousand enemies. He is riddled with thousand enemies' within. He is riddled with negative thoughts fear, yearnings. These are selfless, jealously, meanness, prejudice, and hatred. To get rid of these lawless villains within, theses destructive masters are to be annihilated.
Navratri is a very important and popular festival of India. The celebrations vary by region, leaving much to the creativity and preferences of the Hindu. We find reference of four Navratri as; 1.Magha Navratri (winter season - in January - February), 2. Vasanta or Chaitra Navratri (post - winter, March - April), 3. Ashada Navratri (Monsoon season, June - July). 4 The Sharada Navratri (post-monsoon, September-October) but the Magha and Ashada Navratri are minor and observed regionally or by in observed throughout India. The nine days and nights of Navratri are entirely devoted to mother Goddess. Throughout this period, fasts, strictly vegetarian diets, 'Japa' (chanting mantras in honor of the Goddess Shakti), religious hymens, prayer, meditation, and recitation of sacred texts related to Devi Maa from the order of the day.
The main ritual of Navratri, celebrated on September-October, consists of placing images of Goddess Durga, in homes and temples. There is also a custom of planting barley seeds in a small bed of mud on the first day of 'Puja' and its immersion in running water on concluding day.
India is a land of boundless customs, rituals and festivals. With every festival a unique legend is related and these legendary stories narrate the significance of the festivals along with the rituals performed. As established by legends, the Hindus have thirty-three Crore Gods and Goddesses, and with every deity a story is related. These stories are referred as 'Katha'. Accordingly devotees observe fast and gather and listen to the 'Navrari Katha'. In different parts of India, different legends describe the history and origin of Navratri.
Northern belief: Legend in North India goes that 'Mahishasura' (the buffalo headed demon) was extremely powerful, who won over the heaven and threw 'Devtas' outside it. He captured the throne of lord of gods Indra and declared himself to be the lord of gods. In order to save gods, Lord Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, the three supreme deities emerged a light of anger, which combined to take the shape of a terrible form and this was Durga. The Trinity empowered the Durga with all powers and all the supreme weapons they had. This is why the Durga is called brilliance of all the Gods. In a battle between 'Mahishasura' and Durga which continued for nine days, ultimately on the ninth day Durga took up the form of Chandika and killed 'Mahishasura'.
Eastern belief: As per the legend prevalent in East India, 'Daksha' the king of Himalayas, had a beautiful and virtuous daughter called 'Uma'. She wished to marry Shiva, since childhood. In order to win over the land, she worshipped him and managed to please Shiva to marry her. On this 'Daksha' broke off all the relationships with her daughter and son-in-law. Subsequently 'Daksha' organized a 'Yagna' and did not invite Lord Shiva. 'Uma' got so angry at her father that she jumped into the 'Agnikund' and ended her life. However Uma took re-birth and again married Lord Shiva. It is believed that Uma with Ganesha, Kartika. Sarswati, Laxmi and two of her Sakhi's 'Jya' and 'Bijaya', visit every year to her parent's home during Navratri.
Ramayana belief: Another legend of Navratri relates to the Hindu epic Ramayana. It goes that Lord Rama worshipped Goddess Durga in nine aspects, for nine days, in order to gather the strength and power to kill Ravana. Those nine nights became to be known as Navratri and the tenth day, on which Lord Rama killed
Rvana, came to be called Vijayadashmi or Dusshera, signifying Rama's (good) triumph over Ravana (evil).
These nine days are worshiped in different nine forms of Durga, which are;
1. Shailputri; is the first form amongst the Navdurga and is worshipped on the first day of Navratri. The first day is also called as 'Pratipada' She is embodiment of the power of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh and daughter of Himalaya. In previous birth she was daughter of 'Daksha' and her name was Sati. Estranged with her father in avoiding invitation to her husband Shiva in the 'Jagya' by her father, she burnt herself in the 'Havan kund'. In other birth she became the daughter of Himalaya in the name of Parvati. She is absolute form of Mother Nature. The 'Dhyan' Mantra is; "Vande Vanchhitlabhay Chandrardhkritshekhram. Vrisharudham Shuldharam Shailputri Yashswinim".
2. Brahmacharani; is second form of Navdurga and worshipped on second day of Navratri, also called as 'Dwitiya'. As per legend she was Parvati, daughter of Himalaya. Predicted by 'Naradaji' in her childhood that she will get married with 'Bhole Baba', who was with her in the form of 'Sati', the daughter of Daksh in previous birth, and advised to perform penance for him. There upon she told her mother that she will marry none except Shambhu, otherwise she will remain unmarried. Saying this she went into penance. Her unmarried form is worshipped as Goddess Brahmacharini. She is blissful and endows happiness, peace, prosperity and grace upon all devotees, who worship her. The Dhyan Mantra is; "Dadhanakara Padmabhyam akshamala kamandalam, Devi prasidathu mayi rahmacharinya nuththama".
3. Chandraghanta; is the third form of Maa Durga and worshipped on third day of Navratri, also called as 'Tritiya'. She bears a semi-circular moon on her forehead. She is unprecedented image of bravery. She is depicted with ten hands carrying Trishul, Gada, Sword, Kamandal, Lotus, Arrow, Dhanush and Japa Mala in her right hands. She is the apostle of bravery and possesses great strength to fight in the battle against demons. The Dhyan Mantra as; 'Pindaj Pravrarudha Chandkpasrkaryuta . Prasidam Tanute Mahyam Chandrghnteti Vishruta'..
4. Kushmanda; is the fourth form of Durga and worshipped on fourth day of Navratri, also called as 'Chaturthi'. She created the universe with her divine smile. She is worshipped on the fourth day of Navratri. She is believed to improve health and bestow wealth and strength. She is supposed to reside in solar systems. She shines brightly in all the directions like sun. She is depicted with eight hands holding a Discus, Sword, Hook, Mac, Bow, Arrow and two jars of honey and blood riding on a lion. The Dhyan Mantra is; "Vande Vance hit Kamarthe Chandrarghkrit Shekhram, Singhrudha Ashtbhuja Kushmanda Yashswini.
5. Skanda Mata; Fifth form of Hindu goddess Durga and worshipped on fifth day of Navratri, also called as 'Panchami'. She awards devotees with salvation, power, prosperity and treasures. The daughter of Himalaya, after observing penance got married with Shiva. She had son named 'Skand' as such she is known as Skanda Mata and is depicted by three eyes and four hands seated on a lotus. The Dhyan Mantra is: "Sinhasangata nityam padmashritkardvya , Shubhdastu sada Devi Skandmata Yashswini".
6. Katyayani; the sixth form of Durga is known as Katyayani worshipped on sixth day of Navratri, also called as 'Sashti'. The Rishi 'Katyayan' a lineage of 'Katya' observed penance with a desire to get 'Paramba' as his daughter. As a result she took birth as a daughter of Katayayan. Therefore her name is 'Katyayani'. She has three eyes and eight hands. There are eight types of weapons in her hand seated on lion. The Dhyan Mantra is; "Swarnagya chakra sthitam shashtam Durga Trinetram. Varabhit Karam shadgpadmdharam katyayansutam Thalami".
7. Kalratri; is the seventh form of Maa Durga worshipped on seventh day of Navratri, also called as 'Saptami'. She is considered as most violent form of Durga. She is blackish in appearance with unlocked hair and bright eyes. She rides on 'Shava' (dead bodies) There is sharp sword in her right hand and lower hand in blessing mood. As legend goes she killed demon 'Raktabija' who had the boon that if any drop of blood of him fell on the ground another 'Raktbija' will be created, hence Kaalratri drank the blood to prevent it from falling on the ground. The Dhyan Mantra is; "Karalvadnam ghoram muktkeshi chaturbhjam. Kaal Ratrim karalikaam divyam vidyutmala vibhushitam".
8. Maha Gauri; is eighth manifestation of Durga and worshipped on the eighth day of Navratri, called as 'Ashtami'. She is as white as a conch, moon and jasmine. She has three eyes and four hands and rides on bull. The Dhyan Mantra is: "Purndu nibham gouri somckakrsithtam ashtam mahagouri trinetram, vrabhitikram trishul damrudhra mahagouri bhajem".
9. Siddhidatri; is the ninth form of the Durga and worshipped on the ninth day of Navratri, also called as 'Navami'. It is believed that there are eight types of Slddhis as Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Iishitva, and Vashitya. Maha Maya gives all this siddhis. Depicted with four hands, rides on lion and is worshipped by all Gods, Rishi-Munis, Siddhas, Yogis, Sadhus and devotees to attain the best religious asset. The Dhyan Mantra is; "Swarnavarna Nirvanchakrsthitam Navam Durga Trinetram. Shankh , Gada , Padm Dharam Siddhi Datri Bhajamyaham".
On conclusion of the Navratri, there is tradition of honoring the young unmarried girls (Kanjaka-Pujan). They are called and after washing their feet, devotees welcome them into the home and rituals are held as 'Arti' and 'Puja'. After the ritual, they are feed sweets and food and then honored with small gifts. These girls are believed to be representing, the Shakti (power) of Durga on earth. 'Devi Bhagvata' provides than a girl below one year of age cannot be taken for puja and a girl of two years is taken as 'Kumari', of three years as 'Trimurti', of four years as 'Kalyani', of five years as 'Rohini', of six years as 'Kalika', of seven years as 'Chandika', of eight years as 'Shambhvi', of nine years as 'Durga' and of ten years as 'Subhadra'. The 'Pujan' of above ten years girl is prohibited.