As one of the auspicious festivals of Hindus, Navratri is celebrated with utmost reverence and is one of the earliest festivals dating back to the immemorial eras. It is widely celebrated in India and other parts worldwide over nine consecutive days and nights. However, Navratri holds different significance across India and follows the lunar calendar, which is why it’s celebrated in March/April as Chaitra Navratri and in September/October as Sharad Navratri.
During Navratri, people from villages and cities gather to perform ‘puja’ on small shrines representing different aspects of Goddess Durga, including Goddess Lakshmi and Saraswati. Chanting of mantras and renditions of bhajans and folk songs usually accompany the puja rituals for nine consecutive days of Navratri.
Navratri is obtained from two Sanskrit words; ‘Nava’ means nine, and ‘Ratri’ means night. The popular legend of Navratri highlights the notable battle between the powerful demon Mahishasura and Goddess Durga.
Navratri in India witnesses myriad forms of devotion across the country while retaining the common underlying theme of good over evil. In Jammu, the Vaishno Devi shrine sees a massive rise in the number of devotees making their way to the pilgrimage during Navratri. In Himachal Pradesh, the Navratri Mela marks the auspicious occasion of Navratri. In West Bengal, men and women celebrate ‘Durga Puja’ with great devotion and reverence and worship Goddess Durga, destroying the demon ‘Mahishasura’. ‘Ramlila’, wherein people enact scenes from Ramayana, is performed on big grounds. ‘Dussehra’, which coincides with the tenth day of Ashwin (Sharad) Navratri, is a nationwide celebration.
In South India, during Navratri, people arranged idols in a step pattern and invoked the name of God. In Mysore, the nine-day Navratri festival coincides with the ‘Dasara’ Festival involving folk music renditions, dance performances, wrestling tournaments and tableau participation. The procession of tableaux and embellished elephants, camels and horses starting from the brightly-lit Mysore Palace is famous. ‘Vijayadashami’ is also an auspicious day in South India for performing puja for one’s vehicle.
Goddess Durga is worshipped for the first three days of Navratri, followed by Goddess Laxmi for the next three days. The last three days of Navratri are devoted to Goddess Saraswati. So celebrate Navratri with sacred devotion to get the blessings of Maa Durga. Sharad Navratri 2022 starts on October 7 and will continue till October 15.