Navratri is a Hindu festival that is celebrated twice a year – in the months of Chaitra and Ashwin – and is dedicated to the worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. The festival spans nine nights and ten days and is celebrated with great fervor and enthusiasm across India and other parts of the world where there is a significant Hindu population.
The word Navratri means “nine nights” in Sanskrit, with ‘Nav’ meaning ‘nine’ and ‘Ratri’ meaning ‘night’. Each of the nine nights is dedicated to the worship of a different form of the goddess Durga, who is considered to be the divine mother and protector of the universe.
Nine forms of the goddess Durga that are worshipped during Navratri
- Shailaputri – The goddess in her first manifestation is worshipped as Shailaputri, who represents the power of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
- Brahmacharini – On the second day of Navratri, the goddess is worshipped as Brahmacharini, who represents the power of spiritual enlightenment and knowledge.
- Chandraghanta – On the third day, the goddess is worshipped as Chandraghanta, who is depicted with ten arms and riding a tiger.
- Kushmanda – On the fourth day, the goddess takes the form of Kushmanda, who is believed to have created the universe with her divine smile.
- Skandamata – On the fifth day, the goddess is worshipped as Skandamata, who is considered to be the mother of Lord Kartikeya, the god of war.
- Katyayani – On the sixth day, the goddess is worshipped as Katyayani, who is believed to be the protector of her devotees and the destroyer of evil forces.
- Kalaratri – On the seventh day, the goddess is worshipped as Kalaratri, who represents the power of destruction and is believed to protect her devotees from all forms of negativity and evil.
- Mahagauri – On the eighth day, the goddess takes the form of Mahagauri, who is depicted as a young and beautiful woman with four arms.
- Siddhidatri – On the ninth and final day of Navratri, the goddess is worshipped as Siddhidatri, who is believed to possess all the eight siddhis (supernatural powers) and is worshipped for the attainment of spiritual and material wealth.
Navratri is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm across India, with people observing fasts, performing puja rituals, and participating in cultural events and dance forms like Garba and Dandiya. It is a time for spiritual reflection and rejuvenation, and is an important festival in the Hindu calendar.