Navratri festival is the joyous way of worshipping Goddess Durga. The festival is celebrated all over the country with joy and fervour. ‘Nav’ means nine and ‘Ratri’ means night. The festival is celebrated over a period of nine nights and 10 days. Navratri festival is celebrated 5 times in a year. But the main Navratri festival is celebrated in the month of October/ November. The different types of navrartri festival are:
1. Vasanta Navratri: - this is celebrated in the Chaitra month of Hindu calendar. This is generally the month of March according to modern calendar. It is the seasonal transition time. The winters had almost gone by this time and spring is greeted with enthusiasm. The 9th night of the festival is celebrated as ‘Rama Navmi’.
2. Gupta Navratri: - these navratri falls in the month of June/ July. The Hindu month is named as ‘Aashada’. These are also known as Gayatri navratri.
3. Sharad Navratri: - these navratri days fall in the month of October/ November. It is again the seasonal transition time. The winters are advancing during this time of year, bidding adieu to longer summer duration. According to Hindu calendar, the Navratri are celebrated in the month of Ashwini. The 9 forms of Durga are worshipped with fervour. The 8th day is quite significant in Bengalis as Durgashtami. The 10th day of the festival is celebrated as Vijaya Dashmi which is the Lord Rama’s victory over ‘Ravana’. On the 10th day Bengalis submerge the idols of Durga in water marking the completion of the festival.
4. Pausha Navratri: - these navratri festivals are celebrated in the month of Pausha according to Hindu calendar. Generally it falls on December/ January according to modern calendar.
5. Maagha Navratri: - these 9 days are celebrated in the Maagha month of Hindu calendar. This happens to be the month of January/ February according to modern calendar.
The first three days of Navratri festival are related to the worship of Goddess Durga. The next three days are related to worship of Goddess Laxmi and on the last three days worship of Goddess Sarswati is done with all rituals. Some people observe fast on all the nine days while consuming food only once a day. While some take only fruits and water and avoid even a single morsel.
The festival is celebrated all over the country but with different names. North Indians celebrate Navratri by worshipping the idols of Goddess Durga. Pre-pubescent girls are worshipped as a symbolic representation of the deity. They are offered delicious food items and gifts. In Bengal, decorative ‘pandals’ are made and people visit these ceremonial pandals to worship Goddess in festive mood. In Gujarat, the nine nights of the navratri are celebrated with traditional local touch which has now become global. A traditional dance form ‘garba’ is done throughout the nine nights of celebration. Similar, festivals are celebrated in south India also.
Navratri festival is celebrated during the time of year which depicts the transition in the solar and climatic influence. The navratri festival is celebrated to mark the expression of Goddess Durga in the form of Shakti (energy).