Indian Festivals And The Importance Of Navratri
In the entire world, across human settings, festivities and celebrations lie at the heart of happy & harmonious living. And when it comes to the Indian scenario, the land of vibrant diversities and glowing cultural richness, the variety here can only saturate our senses without getting exhausted. Among the numerous festivals celebrated on this land, cutting across different regionalities, communities and religions, the name and influence of Sharad or Sharadiya Navratri (which is the most important amongst the four Navratri) stand very tall; it is all set to begin on 17th October this year.
The Four Different Types Of Navratri
There are four types of Navratri, celebrated across the length and breadth of the country at different times during the year:
1) Sharad Navratri:
Falls on Shukla Paksha of Ashwin Month, usually September/October of Gregorian Calendar.
2) Chaitra Navratri or Vasant Navratri:
Falls on Shukla Paksha of Chaitra Month, usually in March/April. This also marks the new year of Hindu Lunar Calendar.
3rd and 4th - Ashad Navratri & Magha Navratri respectively:
These are called Secret Navratris and are not for common people. These are observed by Sadhaks to attain the Siddhis.
Sharad Navratri Is The Most Significant Of The Four Navratris:
However, in practice, it is the post-monsoon autumn festival called Sharada Navaratri that is the most observed in the honour of the divine feminine Devi (Durga). The festival is celebrated in the bright half of the Hindu calendar month Ashvin, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October.
Sharadiya Navratri is all about celebration, the celebration of the environment, life, prosperity and richness. Well, Sharadiya Navratri is round the corner, all set to begin on the 17th of October and end on 25th October 2020. So, we are almost in for the nine colourful days & nights of Navratri.
The Religious Significance Of Navratri
Navratri, which literally means Nine-Nights, celebrates the nine forms of the Devi Adiparashakti (the supreme being, creator and destroyer of the elements). She also represents femininity among the deities. Thus, Navratri is also a celebration of feminism, an ode to Hinduism’s belief ‘yatra naryastu pujyante…’. It is stated that Gods and demigods also celebrated Navratri during the times of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Navratri festival is the special time phase when divine and universal energies in the cosmos are much more expressed and direct. It is believed that praying, chanting, and doing meditation during Navratri can connect us with the divine energy. This will invoke positive qualities within us and destroy laziness, pride, obsession, cravings, and aversions. When stress in the form of negative emotions is destroyed, we experience the deep rest of the transforming nine nights.
Sharad Navratri And The Regional Variations
Navratri’s significance is indeed spread all over the length and breadth of the country. But it is celebrated with maximum pomp and gaiety in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, and West Bengal.
In West Bengal, it is celebrated as Durga Puja or Durga Pujo. The entire Kolkata is packed with pandals with various handmade statues of Goddess Durga. It is truly a sight to behold, an experience to have once in a lifetime. In Gujarat, Navaratri is the representation of the nightlife this dry state is deprived of. There are costumes, loudspeakers, and packed stadiums of people full of excitement, performing Garba. Every street is lit up, every pair of feet moving on the notes of “Tara Vina Shyam”, “Chogada…”, and many more!
The Reasons Behind Celebrating Navratri Festival
There are two different versions of the Navratri stories, one stated in Bhagwat Puran and other in Markandey Puran. Well, we can know both of them. It may help us understand religion better, and the stories also have a message in the end, so we may only gain more.
According to Devi Bhagvat Puran, during the battle of Ramayana, on the eighth day of the waning moon of Ashwin month, Lord Brahma awakened the sleeping mother goddess herself, Durga. Durga explained how to worship her during the Navratri for nine days, and that was exactly carried out by Lord Rama during the Mahanavratri. He killed Ravana on the tenth day, on Vijaya Dashmi or Dussehra.
The story from Markandey Puran is the one you are most likely to have heard. It is about the demon king Mahishasura, who after worshipping Brahma, was blessed with immortality. Soon, he started harassing the innocent, and the Gods asked help from Shiva. The Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva created a female warrior, Adishakti Durga to defeat Mahisasura. Mesmerised by her beauty, the demon king approached her for marriage. The Goddess accepted it, but with one condition that Mahisasura has to defeat her in the battle. The ever-proud Mahisasura agreed, and the battle lasted for nine nights (hence Navratri). At the end of the ninth night, Adishakti Durga beheaded Mahisasura, and from there comes the name ‘Mahisasur Mardini’.
Navratri celebrates these victories of good over evil, and how the ‘Shakti’ was able to defeat a proud demon when the Gods of all three Lokas were terrified by the latter.
The Navratri 2020 Dates & The Nine Goddesses
This year, Navratri begins on 17th October. On each day of Navratri, it is believed that a different form of Maa Durga is worshipped. Each of her forms has various traits and influences. Various Avatars of Goddess Durga on each day of Navratri are as follows:
|Day||Dates for Navratri 2020||Avatars of Maa Durga||Significance|
|1||17 October||Shailputri||Represents Mother Nature|
|2||18 October||Brahmacharini||Penance & Good- Conduct|
|3||19 October||Chandraghanta||Peace & Goodness|
|5||21 October||Skandmata||Salvation & Prosperity|
|7||23 October||Eliminator of Fears & Suffering|
|8||24 October||Purity, Serenity & Tranquility|
|9||25 October||Siddhidatri||Provider of Siddhi (accomplishments)|
Navratri Festival Worship: Puja Vidhi And Rituals
As we have mentioned, Navratri holds different significance in different states. In northern India, the ancient art of Ramleela comes alive during the days of Navratri and Dussehra. West Bengal is famous for worshipping Durga for nine days with vivacious idols of the Goddess. For Gujarat, Navratri is one of the state’s prime festivals, and people celebrate it with the folk dance of Garba. Streets and auditoriums are filled with people who perform this playful dance in circles, but before they begin, an Arti is offered to the Adishakti.
Navratri is thus a result of a playful combination of religion and spirituality with the artful festivity. It also promotes the symbolic victories of good over bad, an evergreen message to ponder upon.
Shubh (Auspicious) Muhurats during Sharad Navratri 2020:
For different religious rituals of Navratri, it is vital to know the right muhurat. For example, in many states, ghatasthapana or kalashsthapana ritual. It marks the beginning of Navratri and it needs to be performed at the auspicious time of the day.
Date: 17th October 2020
Muhurat: 06:23 AM to 10:12 AM (3 Hour 49 Minutes)
If for some reason, the ghatasthapana cannot be performed in the morning, it can be performed during the ‘Abhijit Muhurat’ on the same day.
Abhijit Muhurat: 11:43 a.m. to 12:29 p.m. (46 Minutes)
Durga Ashtami is also one of the most important days of Navratri. For Durga Puja in Bengal, it is the second day of the festival.
Date: 23rd and 24th October 2020
Starts on 23rd October 2020: 06:57 a.m.
Ends on 24th October 2020: 06:58 a.m.
On Dussehra, Durga Visarjan is also performed. The Vijay Muhurat is considered auspicious for new beginnings and purchases.
Date: 25th October 2020
Timings: 01:57 p.m. to 02:42 p.m. (45 Minutes)
Durga Visarjan Muhurat: 06:29 a.m. to 08:43 a.m. (2 Hour 14 Minutes)
A Happy Navratri To One And All!
A festival of lights, dance and togetherness, with its roots dating back to the Ramayana and Mahabharata that celebrates a female warrior’s victory over a demon and symbolises the removal of the adversities might very well be the thing this year needs. We wish you the most prosperous and happy Navratri from our side!
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With Ganesha’s Grace,
The GaneshaSpeaks.com Team