Navaratri is one of the most important festival celebration that lasts nine days brings out a multihued festive look of India as a whole. Dedicated to Goddess Shakti or cosmic energy, during this period Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped as three different manifestations of the Mother Goddess. Traditionally, Navaratri is considered an auspicious time for starting new ventures.
Time For The Festivity
The beginning of summer and winter seasons are two every important junctions of climatic and solar influence. These two periods are taken as sacred opportunities for the worship of the Divine Mother Goddess and are indicated respectively by the Rama-Navaratri or Ramnavmi in the Chaitra (April-May) and the Durga Navaratri in Aswayuja (September-October). Sri Rama is worshipped during Ramnavmi, and Mother Durga during Navaratri.
Ramnavmi is considered as one of the most important festivals of the Vaishnava sect of the Hindus and celebrated as the birthday of Lord Rama, which falls on the 9th day of the bright fortnight of Chaitra. Some people even observe a strict fast on this day. A major attraction of the celebrations is the beautifully decorated temples and the richly adorned images of Lord Rama, Goddess Sita Lakshmana and Lord Hanumana. The holy Ramayana is read in all the temples. At the birthplace of Sri Rama, Ayodhya, a big fair is held on this day.
In North India this festival's most eventful attraction is the performance of 'Ram Leela' (the sport of Rama) based on the famous epic 'Ramayana'. In South India the 'Sri Ram Navmi Utsavam' is celebrated for nine days with great fervour and devotion. Those talented in the art of story telling narrate the thrilling episodes of the Ramayana and this day is observed as the marriage celebration of Lord Rama and Goddess Sita.
Legends Of Shakti
Navaratras is the period, when the Navagrahas that rule every person's life are said to descend on planet Earth. According to the legends the forces of evil had run amok in the form of the demon Mahishasura. All the Gods pooled their resources to arm Durga, who after nine terrible days and nights of battle, defeated Mahishasura when he appeared as a demon buffalo on the tenth day.
The other belief is that the nine Roopas or forms of Shakti; Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati, Yogmaya, Raktdantika, Shakkubhari, Shri Durga, Bhramri and Chanika are worshipped. During the Navaratras, Durga is worshipped and invoked Vaishnavites however, remember Lord Rama. Terracotta Kalashs are installed on small containers in which "Jau" - a kind of barley sown and an oil lamp is supposed to be kept lighted all through the nine days. Finally, on the tenth day, this installation is taken for immersion in a river or lake, reiterating rejuvenation and growth.
The Navaratari celebrations that are celebrated during the months of September - October have their own appeal and significance. In Gujarat Navaratri is the festival of Garba and Dandiya galore and it is party time all the nine nights. The pristine beats have buckled under some disco, reggae and rap Garba and with all this dancing happening, matchmaking is the inevitable fallout.
Across the country, in West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Assam, Durga Puja commences on the fourth day of the Navaratras and enormous tents spring up in practically every locality of both cities and towns and an amazing array of images of Durga, crafted from the special clay of the Ganga are installed. Image makers plan months in advance and attempt to outdo the other in crafting these images using plethora of mediums including Sholapith, coconut husk, cloth, flowers, betal nuts et al.
It is said that the Goddess comes back to her parents' house with her children Kartik, Ganesha and siblings, Saraswati and Lakshmi, staying for four days when a lot of celebration and merrymaking takes places and on the tenth day of Bijoya or Vijaydashmi she is given a symbolic send off when the idols are carried in procession and immersed in water, involving a lot of tears and deeply moving scenes.