Indian Fast & Festivals

Navratra

21 Mar (Saturday), 2015

08 Apr (Friday), 2016

28 Mar (Tuesday), 2017

Signifcance

Navratri is the time to cleanse our own evil characteristic like hatred, jealously, ignorance, anger, greed, violence etc inside and outside of us. The main purpose of observing fast is to cleanse our body and remove the negative characteristic. We should think positive and utilize our time in mantra jap of goddess with full devotion so that we can see her present in our heart.

Navratri is celebrated twice a year in India and other countries. This new day festival of Navratri in Hindu religion is dedicated to the nine manifestation of Goddess Durga in form of Shakti. Navratri is celebrated in large number of Indian communities. The mother goddess is said to appear in nine forms and each one is worshipped for a day. These nine forms signify various traits that the goddess influences us with

  • Maa Shail Putri – She gives luck and happiness to the world.
  • Maa Brahma chaarini – She gives the message of pure love to the world.
  • Maa Chandraghanta – She establishes justice and wears crescent moon on her head.
  • Maa Kush Maanda – She provides the basic necessities to the world.
  • Skand Mata – She gives the gift of differentiation of right from wrong to the world.
  • Maa Kaatyayini – She persistently battles against the evil.
  • Maa Kalratri – She killed Rakta Beej.
  • Maa Mahagauri – She liberates the world of evil forces.
  • Maa Siddhi datri – She is a treasure of Mystic power (Yantra, Tantra and Knowledge).

The Navratri is divided into sets of three days to adore three different aspects of the supreme goddess.

First Three Days -

The goddess is separated as spiritual force called Durga also known as Kaali in order to destroy all our impurities.

Second Three Days -

The mother is adorned as a giver of spiritual wealth, Lakshmi who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees inexhaustible wealth and abundance as she is the goddess of wealth.

Final Three Days -

Final set of three days is spent in worshipping the goddess of wisdom. Saraswati which provides all round success in life. Eighth day is traditionally Durga Ashtmi which is big in Bengal.

History

In days long gone by, King Dooshibago was killed by a lion when he went out hunting. Preparations were made to crown the prince Sudarsana. But, King Yudhajit of Ujjain, the father of Queen Lilavati, and King Virasena of Kalinga, the father of Queen Manorama, were each desirous of securing the Kosala throne for their respective grandsons. They fought with each other. King Virasena was killed in the battle. Manorama fled to the forest with Prince Sudarsana and a eunuch. They took refuge in the hermitage of Rishi Bharadwaja.

The victor, King Yudhajit, thereupon crowned his grandson, Satrujit, at Ayodhya, the capital of Kosala. He then went out in search of Manorama and her son. The Rishi said that he would not give up those who had sought protection under him. Yudhajit became furious. He wanted to attack the Rishi. But, his minister told him about the truth of the Rishi’s statement. Yudhajit returned to his capital.

Fortune smiled on Prince Sudarsana. A hermit’s son came one day and called the eunuch by his Sanskrit name Kleeba. The prince caught the first syllable Kli and began to pronounce it as Kleem. This syllable happened to be a powerful, sacred Mantra. It is the Bija Akshara (root syllable) of the Divine Mother. The Prince obtained peace of mind and the Grace of the Divine Mother by the repeated utterance of this syllable. Devi appeared to him, blessed him and granted him divine weapons and an inexhaustible quiver.

The emissaries of the king of Benares passed through the Ashram of the Rishi and, when they saw the noble prince Sudarsana, they recommended him to Princess Sashikala, the daughter of the king of Benares.

The ceremony at which the princess was to choose her spouse was arranged. Sashikala at once chose Sudarsana. They were duly wedded. King Yudhajit, who had been present at the function, began to fight with the king of Benares. Devis helped Sudarsana and his father-in-law. Yudhajit mocked Her, upon which Devi promptly reduced Yudhajit and his army to ashes.

Thus Sudarsana, with his wife and his father-in-law, praised Devi. She was highly pleased and ordered them to worship her with havan and other means during the Vasanta Navarathri. Then she disappeared.

Prince Sudarsana and Sashikala returned to the Ashram of Rishi Bharadwaja. The great Rishi blessed them and crowned Sudarsana as the king of Kosala. Sudarsana and Sashikala and the king of Benares implicitly carried out the commands of the Divine Mother and performed worship in a splendid manner during the Vasanta Navarathri.

Sudarsana’s descendants Sri Rama and Lakshmana also performed worship of Devi during the Sharad Navarathri and were blessed with Her assistance in the recovery of Sita.

According to the Krittibas Ramayana, Rama invoked the goddess Durga in his epic battle against Ravana. Although Goddess Durga was traditionally worshipped in the late spring, due to contingencies of battle, Lord Rama had to invoke her in the form of astam (eighth) Mahavidya (Maa Bagla) in the autumn and thus is known as akaal bodhan (invoking out of scheduled time). This autumnal ritual was different from the conventional Durga Puja, which is usually celebrated in the springtime. So, this Puja is also known as 'akal-bodhan' or out-of-season ('akal') worship ('bodhan'). This Rama's date for the Navaratri puja has now gained ascendancy and culminates with Dusherra in North India on the following day.

Determination of Date

Navratras start during Chaitra Shukla Pratipada falling during Sun Rise. If Pratipada falls or does not fall at Sun Rise then Navratras start on the first day. If Pratipada Tithi ends before the completion of only one Muhurat after sun rise in that situation Navratras shall start one day before.

How to Celebrate

Navratri Festival is celebrated by Hindus with great devotion for 10 days. Idol of Goddess Durga is worshipped during Navratri. People stay awake the whole night during the nine days of Navratri and play Dandiya and Garba. This festival is celebrated by all Hindus and has special significance in Gujarati community.

Festival of Navratri is full of lights, joy and festivity. Hindus celebrate this with devotion and enthusiasm throughout India. The celebration is carried on for ten days and the last four days are very important. Navratri means nine nights and so the tenth day Goddess Durga, who is worshipped throughout the nine days, is immersed in holy water after pooja. Each and every day has its importance and meaning. People worship Goddess in three forms and try to enhance their physical, mental and spiritual practice in these nine days.

Navratri festival is celebrated twice a year, though the one that is celebrated in September or October is well-known and celebrated with extreme passion and fervour. Some Hindus believe that every night one form of Goddess is worshipped while some believe that three forms of Goddess are worshipped and they are the trinity of God. The celebration varies from one state to another although the dedication and devotion remains the same all over India.

Navratri Celebration and Fasting

Some people eat only fruits and drink milk during the entire nine days and nights.

Some eat meal one time a day and that meal should be satvik, which means vegetarian meal which is prepared without the use of onion and garlic.

Fasting is not compulsory and even after few years if the devotee feels that he or she is not capable of continuing fast during Navratri, he or she can discontinue also.

It is good to keep mind, body and thoughts pure during the time of Navratri.

If possible try to light a Jyot in front of Goddess Durga's statue or at least a picture throughout the nine days and nights.

Start the prayers with praying for Lord Ganesha and then perform aarti in front of Goddess Durga.

Men do not shave or cut their hair during this period.

People do not wear black clothes during this period and avoid keeping leather goods with them.

People worship young girls and feed them with sweets and different types of traditional and delicious food items. They consider them as form of Goddess Durga.

Since it is believed that Goddess is fond of red flowers and red colour, women and young girls prefer wearing clothes in red and yellow colour.

Fasting commences on the ninth night of Navratri.

People pray to Goddess Durga to destroy the evil during Navratri. They ask help and strength from the Goddess to fight against the evil and protect the Hindu dharma. In West Bengal, men and women celebrate Navratri festival as Durga Pooja and worship huge idols of Goddess Durga. In Gujarat people perform traditional dance which is known as Garba almost throughout the night. They wear colourful dresses and mostly Indian traditional dresses are preferred.

Chaitra Navratri is celebrated after Holi and during Chaitra Shukla Paksha. This starts from the first day and ends on the ninth day which is also celebrated as Ram Navmi. The worship of Goddess on the eighth day is very important and auspicious and is significant in both Navratri festivals.

Dussehra or Navratri is also celebrated as Lord Rama's victory over the Demon king Ravana. He was the ten headed king of Lanka and had kidnapped Rama's wife, Sita. The main objective is, however, to celebrate the victory of good over the evil.

Sarv Mangal Mangalye Shive Sarvarth Sadhike Sharanye Triambakkam Gauri Narayani Namo Stute


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