Navratri is a Sanskrit word which means nine nights. Nine forms of Goddess Durgaare worshiped during these 9 days. Navratri festival is celebrated throughout the country with very joy and happiness. Most celebrated of the four Navratri, named after “Sharada” which means autumn.
The first day of Sharada Navratri is very special because Goddess Durga invoked in a holy pot following Vedic rituals and from that the pot became the holy presence of Goddess Durga in the house. People use to install the pot in the house from first day of Navratri known as Kalashsthapana.
The seeds of inner renewal are sown, grown and worshiped by devotees during Navratri. Goddess Durga, Mahanavmi and Vijayadashmi collectively called as Durgashtami, are celebrated on the 8th, 9th and 10th day.
The fast of Navratri is also considered to be one of the toughest fasts because they are not allowed to consume anything made of garlic, onion or table salt. They should refrain themselves from consuming pulse, grains, or non-vegetarian meals. The beautiful thing is, it not compulsory for everyone to observe the fast. The devotees are allowed to consume fruits and sweets along with water during fast.
The story associated with Navratri is the battle between the Goddess Durga and the demon Mahishasura. Lord Brahma granted immortality to the Mahishasura and had been told that he could only be killed by a woman only. After getting the immortality he attacked Heaven, Earth and Hell. Everyone who came in his way was defeated. The gods were not able to defeat him and was very afraid.
Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu together created a Shakti. Goddess Durga fought with him but the demon was very clever he was able to take different forms and it kept confusing Goddess Durga. Finally, when Mahishasura turned into buffalo, Goddess killed him with a trishul.
On each day a different form of Goddess Durga is worshiped. They are:
- Goddess Shailputri
- Goddess Brahmacharini
- Goddess Chandraghanta
- Goddess Kushmanda
- Goddess Skandamata
- Goddess Katyayani
- Goddess Kaalratri
- Goddess Mahagauri
- Goddess Siddhidatri
Ram leela is held in the North and Western part of India and the festival ends in Dusshera or Vijayadashmi. Whereas in East India, it is celebrated as Durga pooja.