Worshiping the feminine
Among the various Hindu festivals celebrated in India, the post monsoon autumn festival of Sharad Navaratri celebrated in honour of the feminine nature of devine, is an important one. In Hinduism goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati representing the earth, the sun and the moon respectively are seen as the three dimensions of the feminine devine. One could also understand them to be representative of tamas(inertia), rajas(activity, passion) and sattva(knowldege, purity) respectively. The nine nights and ten days of this important Hindu religious festival is in honour and praise of these goddesses.
This festival generally falls in the months of September and October (Hindu calendar month of Ashwin) and is celebrated differently in every part of the country (India) with people fasting as well as feasting. This festival always begins on the first day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvini and culminates on the tenth day which is celebrated as Durga Puja and Vijayadashmi(or Dusherra) followed twenty days later by the festival of lights Diwali. The exact dates and times of each day of Navaratri are determined according to the Hindu lunisolar calendar. In theory there are four Navaratris in a year- Sharad Navratri, Vasant Navratri, Magha Navratri and Ashada Navratri, out of which Sharad Navratri is the most observed.
Following are the dates calculated for a few current years for Sharad Navaratri. . . .
Each of the nine days (rather nights) is dedicated to one of the nine manifestations or avatars of the mother goddess, each having it's own importance and significance. There is even a specific color considered auspicious for each day.
Day 1 (Pratipada) - Shailputri
This day is associated with Goddess Shailputri (daughter of the mountains). Goddess Durga in this form is considered the absolute form of Mother Nature and prayer to her is understood to evoke the spiritual relationship with mother nature within. The color for this day is
Day 2 (Dwitiya) - Goddess Brahmacharini
On the second day Goddess Brahmacharini, an incarnation of Parvati, is prayed to for emancipation or moksha and endowment of peace and prosperity. She is depicted as walking bare feet holding a japamala (rosary) and a kamandala (pot) in her hands symbolizing the bliss and calm of one who practices devout austerity OR one who pursues the sacred religious knowledge.
Day 3 (Tritiya) - Goddess Chandraghanta
The third day is reserved for Goddess Chandraghanta worshipped for peace, tranquility and prosperity in life. She embodies beauty and is also symbolic of bravery, ever ready to destroy the wicked, yet kind and compassionate to her devotees. An unflamboyant color
Day 4 (Chaturthi) - Goddess Kushmanda
Goddess Kushmanda prayed to on the fourth day is understood to be the creative power of the universe and is associated with the endowment of vegetation on earth and is prayed to improve health and bestow wealth and strength.
Day 5 (Panchami) - Goddess Skandamata
Goddess Skandamata worshiped on the fifth day, represents the mother-son relationship. She is is the mother of Skanda (or Kartikeya). The color of
Day 6 (Shashthi) - Goddess Katyayani
Goddess Katyayani is the warrior goddess and is prayed to destroy the evil. Born to sage Katyayana, she is considered one of the most violent forms of the Devi and is robust as well as tempermental.
Day 7 (Saptami) - Goddess Kaalratri
Considered the fiercest form of the Devi and her appearance itself invoking fear Goddess Kaalratri is believed to be the destroyer of all demon entities, ghosts, evil spirits and negative energies. The Goddess is depicted in a red coloured attire or tiger skin with a lot of rage in her fiery eyes with her skin turning black.
Day 8 (Ashtami) - Goddess Mahagauri
She is the goddess of peace and endurance and is prayed to get relief from all the sufferings in life. She also symbolizes intelligence and peace. The color associated with this day is
Day 9 (Navmi) - Goddess Siddhidatri
Goddess Siddhidatri is the one with supernatural healing powers. Also known as Mahalakshmi, it is believed that one side of Lord Shiva’s body is that of Goddess Siddhidatri and therefore he is also reffered to by the name of Ardhanarishwara.
A glimpse of the celebration from the western state of Gujarat where people dance the 'Garba' every night. The roit of colors apart from the fun the people have is what will catch your eye.