Navaratri is the festival of 9 nights meant for prayers and celebrations. This occasion marks the event of virtue, generally in the form of the Supreme Goddess, taking on vice in the form of the mighty demonic forces and destroying those for the establishment of the just order in the universe and benefit of humanity. It is believed that this battle between the divine and the devil was fought for 9 nights, the Nava Ratris, and commemorated as Navaratri festival. Finally, the Goddess annihilated the evil comprehensively and triumphed on the 10th day, celebrated as Vijayadasami, the victorious 10th day.
Navaratri starts from the beginning of the Moon’s bright fortnight in the Ashvin month (September-October), and this year, Navratri 2021 is observed from 7th to 15th October.
It can be said that the Navaratri festival itself represents the divine wisdom contained in the ancient Vedas. This can broadly be indicated as – removing all negativities and purifying the mind; cultivating virtues and enriching the self; then, gaining true knowledge, attaining wisdom, and transcending the limitations of human existence.
In line with this theme, the first 3 days are generally meant for clearing the quality of ‘Tamas,’ the darkness of ignorance and inertia; the next 3 days, for overcoming ‘Rajas,’ passion and aggression; and the last 3 days for ‘Sattva,’ the purity and tranquility.
Accordingly, people dedicate Navaratri to the Goddesses Durga or Parvati, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Durga represents power and courage that can root out even deeply entrenched negativities from the mind. Lakshmi, being the Goddess of wealth and auspiciousness, can purify, nourish, and enrich the mind and make it receptive to noble thoughts. And Saraswati is the personification of learning who can bestow sublime knowledge, enlighten the mind, and help it rise to higher levels of consciousness.
This is wisdom, perhaps, in its purest form, obtained after destroying the vices within and triumphing comprehensively over the self. So, it is no surprise that the day that immediately follows the 9 days of Navaratri remains Vijaya Dasami, the Day of Ultimate Victory.
This great triumph is also symbolized by the practice of Vidhyarambha on the auspicious Vijayadasami day, when people start the learning process for their children and thus, introduce them to the domain of knowledge, wisdom, and enlightenment.
Rasa Kreeta is the playful dance of joy Lord Krishna performed with the Gopies, as per legends. And Navaratri dancing represents this, too. As the mind becomes purer and lighter, it gets in touch with the inner self, becomes joyful, and experiences the supreme sense of bliss. Hence, this expression of happiness comes out in the form of the dance of self-realization.
Navaratri Festival Information
While Navaratri is observed all over the country as the triumph of good over the bad, its history and celebrations differ from place to place depending on local beliefs, traditions, and customs. But many people link it to the supreme Mother Goddess’ battle with the demonic forces, hail her grand victory, and accordingly, worship her in the form of her different aspects on the 9 Navaratri nights.
One such popular celebration follows this pattern: First Navaratri Day – Ghatasthapana, the installation of the sacred pot as the symbol of divinity, and Devi Shailputri Devi Pooja; Second Day – Brahmacharini Devi Pooja; Third Day, also called Sindhoor Tritiya – Chitrangada Devi Pooja; Fourth Day of Lalita Panchami – Kushmanda Devi Pooja; Fifth Day – Skanda Mata Devi Pooja; Sixth Day – Katyayani Devi Pooja; Seventh day – Kalaratri Devi Pooja; Eighth Day of Mahashtami – Mahagauri Devi Pooja; Ninth Day of Maha Navami – Siddhidatri Devi Pooja; and the Tenth Day of Victory – Vijayadasami or Dussehra.
Further, in states like West Bengal, images of goddess Durga along with other Goddesses like Lakshmi and Saraswati are installed, worshiped for 9 days in Pandals, and then immersed in water bodies on the 10th day. Whereas, in southern states like Tamil Nadu, the ninth Navaratri day is observed as Saraswati Pooja or Ayudha Pooja, dedicated to the Goddess of Learning and to the tools, appliances, etc. that people use for their livelihood. The 10th day of Vijayadasami is highly auspicious, when people make new beginnings in life, while parents start the educational pursuits of their young ones.
So, Navratri 2021 is round the corner for people to pray to the divinities and flourish in their lives.