Navratri is a Hindu festival that is celebrated for a period of nine days. It is a festival that is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her nine forms. There is great religious significance attached to all these nine days. It is the festival where good triumphs over evil and this is celebrated on all nine days.
Mahishasura who was a mighty demon had defeated Indra the King of Gods. King Indra sought the help of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar to destroy the demon Mahishasura. Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar combined all their energies and created Goddess Durga to defeat the demon.
The Goddess rides a lion and has weapons given to her by the Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar that she uses to destroy and kill Mahishasura. On the tenth day the victory of good over evil is celebrated as Dusshera.
The other legend is that Lord Ram killed Ravana on the last day of Navratri and this culminated into a celebration where effigies of Ravana and his son Meghnadh and brother Kumbhkarna are burnt to celebrate their defeat.
Navratri is celebrated twice in a year. It is also celebrated after the festival of Holi. This is known as Vasanth Navratri and payers are offered to Lord Vishnu and it is celebrated in the month of Chaitra Shukla Paksha.
Each day of the festival has a certain significance attached to it and it is dedicated to the different avatars of Goddess Durga.
• Day 1 – Shailputri is the name of the daughter of the Himalayas and the first day is dedicated to Goddess Durga by this name. She is the embodiment of Shakti and the companion of Lord Shiva.
• Day 2 – On the second day the name of the Goddess is Brahmacharini and she is the in the form of Mata Shakti. The name is derived from “Brahma” which means penance.
• Day 3 – On the third day she is known as Chandraghanta and the name is known to symbolize beauty and bravery.
• Day 4 – Kushmandas is the creator of the universe and the fourth day is dedicated to her.
• Day 5 – Skanda is the name of the army of the Gods. Skand Mata is the mother of the chief warrior of the army and the fifth day is dedicated to her.
• Day 6 – Katyayani is a Goddess who has three eyes and four hands and this day is dedicated to her.
• Day 7 – Goddess Kalratri is supposed to make the devotees fearless and the seventh day is dedicated to her.
• Day 8 – Mata Rani or Maha Gauri is the Goddess that symbolizes calmness and wisdom and the eight day is dedicated to her.
• Day 9 – Goddess Durga is also known as Siddhidatri (she has all the eight siddhis) and the ninth day is dedicated to her.
Navratri is celebrated all over the country with a lot of devotion and people irrespective of their religious beliefs participate in it with lots of enthusiasm. In West Bengal there are beautiful pandals made to host Mother Durga. These pandals are done very tastefully and they reflect the present political, economic, sports and cultural news of India and the world.
People from all walks of life visit these pandals to admire the beauty of Goddess Durga and pray for happiness and success. Most devotees offer fast on all the nine days of the festive celebrations. People all over India consider it to the auspicious day to start any new venture or business. Parents all over India also enroll their children in school on the auspicious day of Vijayadashami.