Chaitra Navratri-A Grand Hindu Festival
Chaitra Navratri (Sanskrit: नवरात्री) is a grand Hindu festival. Navratri festival is also called Nauratri, Navarathri, Navaratra, Navratan, Nauratan etc. Generally, Navratri is celebrated for nine days by worshipping nine incarnations of goddess Durga (Divine Mother).
Navratri is celebrated four times a year. These celebrations are–Paush Navratri or Magh Gupt Navratri, Chaitra Navratri or Basant Navratri, Sharad Navratri or Maha Navratri and Ashada Gupt Navratri. According to western calendar, Paush Navratri or Magh Gupt Navratri is celebrated in the month January or February; Chaitra Navratri or Basant Navratri or Vasant Navratri is celebrated in the month March or April; Ashadha Gupt Navratri is celebrated in the month of June or July and Sharad Navratri or Maha Navratri is celebrated in the month of September or October. In these four Navratri celebrations, Chaitra Navratri and Sharad Navratri are more popular and celebrated in all over India by the devotees.
The Shakti devotees worship the nine forms of Goddess Durga (Navdurga) on the occasion of Navratri festival. Lord Brahma named these nine forms of Durga. These are basically nine variations or forms of Divine Mother. The nine forms of Durga in the Devi Mahatmya –Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri. Let’s know about these in brief.
The first form of Navdurga is Shailaputri. She became known as Shailputri as she was the daughter of Giriraj, Hamalaya. Her vehicle is an ox. She is depicted with a trident and a lotus in her two hands.
The second form of Navdurga is Brahmacharini. She gives self-knowledge to Brahma, and also makes the devotee attain Brahma. Mother Brahmacharini increases concentration.
The third form of Mother Goddess is Chandraghanta. Devaraja Indra gave her the Ghanta for the slaying of Mahisasura. The Ghanta contained the great power of Gajraj Airavat. Chandraghanta is more beautiful than the Moon. Mother Chandraghanta removes our worldly troubles.
The fourth form of Navdurga is Kushmanda. She holds the Kushma ( the troubles of this materialistic world) in her Anda (abdomen). Mother Kushmanda gives happiness and prosperity to Her devotees.
The fifth form of Divine Mother is Skandamata. She is the mother of god Kartikeya or Skanda. Mother Skandamata destroys any disturbance in the house.
The sixth form of Mother Goddess is Katyayani. She appeared as the daughter of Rishi (sage) Katyayan. The gopbalas of Braj prayed to Katyayani to get Nanda Nandan, Sri Krishna as their husband. Mother Katyayani destroys the enemies of her devotees.
The seventh form of Divine Mother is Kalratri. She appeared from the body of Kalbhairava dancing in the eternal space. She is known as Mahakalika or Kalratri. She is also narrated as the Goddess of Ratri Sukta in the Rigveda.
The eighth form of Mother Goddess is Mahagauri. She is an affectionate mother towards her children (devotees), consort of Lord Shiva and a happy image of Goddess Durga.
The ninth form of Navdurga is Siddhidatri. She is four-armed, three-eyed, and as beautiful as the morning sun. She is also called Yogamaya and Maheshwari. She fulfills all tasks of her devotees.
Navratri celebration begins with the worship of the goddess Shailaputri, a form of Goddess Durga who is the daughter of the mountain king Himalayas. The devotees then worship other forms of Goddess Durga mentioned above every day as per the rituals.
According to the Indian calendar, the new year begins on the Shukla Pratipada in the month of Chaitra. New Year festival is celebrated on this auspicious day. In Maharashtra, it is also known as Gudi Padwa Parab. It is also called Samvatsar. In South India this festival is known as Ugari.
Chaitra Navratri coincides with the Ram Navami and Basanti Durga Puja. Basanti Durga Puja is celebrated in Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of the moon) of the month of Chaitra. Regarding the introduction of this celebration, it is written in the Puranas that in ancient times, King Surath lost his kingdom and Samadhi Vaishya lost his family and wealth and they were wandering in a forest. One day they went to the ashram (hermitage) of Madhas Muni (sage) located in the forest. They narrated all about their sorrows to the sage. The sage advised them to worship goddess Durga. There they made an idol of the goddess and began to worship her on the advice of the sage. After years of rigorous austerities, they received the blessings of the goddess. Thus Durga Puja was introduced in the world. One of the names of this puja is Basanti Puja or Basanti Durga Puja as it was performed in Basant (spring). As per Ramayana, during the battle between Rama and Ravana, Lord Rama sought the blessings of Goddess Durga for his victory. He performed puja to the goddess in the month of Ashwin. As the worship was carried out in Akaal (an unusual time), which is different from the customary time for worship, namely Basant or Vasant (Spring). It is called Akaal Bodhan. This celebration coincides with the Sharad Navratri or Maha Navratri.
Sharad Navratri or Maha Navratri coincides with the Sharadia Durga Puja festival. As per the story of Ramayana, during the battle between Rama and Ravana, Lord Rama sought the blessings of Goddess Durga for his victory. He performed puja to the goddess in the month of Ashwin. As the worship was carried out in Akaal (an unusual time), which is different from the customary time for worship, namely Basant or Vasant (Spring), it is called Akaal Bodhan.
Chaitra Navratri is very significant for Hindus. Goddess Durga is a symbol of Shakti which means ultimate strength. Chaitra Navratri is a nine-day festival that signifies the victory of good over evil. It is believed that worshipping Goddess Durga during Chaitra Navratri can help to get Moksha (salvation) and seek her blessings for the future. This festival is very important for the farmers because during this time the farmers bring the harvested crop to their homes and prepare the land for sowing other crops. Another important reason for celebrating the festival is to welcome the summer season and new crops.