The Festival of Navaratri in Hinduism: Matra & Pooja Vidhi

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The Navratri Festival is right around the corner with the most prominent celebration taking place this year from the seventh until the fifteenth of October. What is the Navratri Festival you may ask? The Hindu festival of Navratri is celebrated for nine nights and ten days. The word Navratri itself has quite a literal meaning. It comes from the Sanskrit words nava, which means nine, and ratri, which means nights. According to a few Hindu texts, including the Vaishnava Puranas and the Shakta, there are actually two or four seasons where Navratri is celebrated. Two of these are specifically known as the Sharada Navaratri and the Vasanta Navaratri. The most prominent and observed of the Navratri festivals is the Sharada Navaratri, which is celebrated near the autumn equinox, in the months of September or October, referred to in the Hindu calendar as the months of Ashbin and Ashwayuja respectively. Regardless of the specific time of year that the Navaratri is celebrated, all of the festivals celebrate the triumph of good over evil, and specifically, are in honor of the noble Hindu goddess Durga and her victory over the malicious Mahishasura.

As the story goes, Mahishasura was a devoted follower of Lord Shiva. However, after being granted supreme powers by Shiva for his fidelity, he became evil and used his powers to inflict pain, suffering and destruction. Because of the wicked Mahishasura’s devilish acts, the Lords Vishnu, Brahma and Mahesh, came together and created the goddess Durga to battle against him. The warrior goddess Durga went to war against Mahishasura and emerged victorious after nine straight days of battle. On the tenth day, the goddess Durga beheaded the defeated Mahishasura. Today, the Navratri Festival not only celebrates the victory of the goddess Durga but the conquest of good over evil.

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Each day of the festival has a particular significance and are all dedicated to Durga and her eight avatars or incarnations. Mantras for all nine days are also mentioned below, Perform them during the pooja with Mantra Jaap Mala. These days are known by the following:

Day 1: Shailaputri

It means daughter of the King of Mountains (Shaila-Mountain, Putri- Daughter). She has two hands displacing a lotus and a trident and is sitting atop a bull. The earliest iteration of the Hindu goddess Durga, Shailaputri, is honoured on the first day of the nine-day Navratri festival. From the two terms "Shaila" (mountain) and "putri" (daughter), the word "Shailaputri" is derived. Given that she is the Himalayas' daughter, Shailaputri is sometimes referred to as Parvati or Hemavati. She is revered by followers who pray to her for fortitude, bravery, and blessings for a joyous and prosperous life. Devotees fast and pray to Shailaputri during Navratri to obtain her blessings.

These are the mantras of Mother Shailaputri: 

Day 2: Brahmacharini

In this form, she holds a "Kumbha" or water pot in one hand and a rosary in the other. She is a storehouse of knowledge and wisdom. She is adorned in Rudraksha. The Hindu goddess Brahmacharini is honoured on the second day of the nine-day Navratri festival. She is Durga's second manifestation. The words "Brahma" and "charini," which signify one who practises or adheres to, are combined to form the term "Brahmacharini." According to legend, Brahmacharini represents wisdom, virtue, and penance. Devotees worship her in order to obtain benefits for spiritual development, purity, and wisdom. Devotees fast and pray to Brahmacharini during Navratri to obtain her blessings. Worshipping Brahmacharini is seen to aid in conquering challenges and obtaining success in one's endeavours.

These are the mantras of Mother Brahmacharini: 

Day 3: Chandraghanta

Chandraghanta means supreme bliss and knowledge. mounted on a tiger, she has ten hands and 3 eyes. Eight of Her hands display weapons while the remaining two are respectively in the mudras of gestures of boon giving and stopping harm. The third incarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga, Chandraghanta, is celebrated on the third day of the nine-day Navratri festival. Chandra, which means moon, and ghanta, which means bell, are the roots of the word "Chandraghanta." She goes by the names Chandika, Rannchandi, and Durga as well. Chandraghanta is seen as a representation of boldness, tenacity, and courage. Devotees worship her in order to obtain blessings for security and conquering hurdles and fear. Devotees fast and pray to Chandraghanta during Navratri to obtain her blessings. It is thought that Chandraghanta worship helps to drive away evil spirits and gives prosperity and tranquilly.

These are the mantras of Mother Chandraghanta: 

Day 4: Kushmanda

The 4th night begins the worship of Maa "Kushmanda", who possess eight arms, holding weapons and a rosary. Her mount is a tiger and She emanates a solar like aura." On the fourth day of the nine-day Navratri festival, Kushmanda, the fourth manifestation of the Hindu goddess Durga, is worshipped. Three words are used to create the term "Kushmanda": "Ku" (which means a bit), "ushma" (which denotes warmth or energy), and "anda" (which means egg). Kushmanda therefore refers to the person who formed the universe as an egg out of a small amount of heat and energy. Kushmanda is regarded as a representation of energy and light. Devotees worship her in order to obtain blessings for power, health, and prosperity. Devotees fast and pray to Kushmanda during Navratri to obtain her blessings. Worshipping Kushmanda is thought to improve one's health, bring happiness, and bring success in life.

These are the mantras of Mother Kushmanda: 

Day 5: Skandamata

In this form, Maa Durga holds her son Kartikey also known as "Skand" in her lap while displaying 3 eyes and 4 hands; two hands hold lotuses while the other 2 hands respectively display defending and granting gestures. The terms "mother of Skanda" and "mata," which make up the name Skandamata, are the origins of the name. According to Hindu mythology, Skandamata is Skanda's mother. Skanda was created from Lord Shiva's energy. Skandamata is said to provide power, bravery, and wisdom upon her believers. It is said that honouring Skandamata on the fifth day of Navratri helps one create a stronger bond with their mother and a sense of duty towards their family. "Om Devi Skandamatayai Namah"

These are the mantras of Mother Skandamata: 

Day 6: Katyayani

She is named Katyayani as she had stayed in the ashram of sage Katyayan for penance. This 6th Shakti is also astride a lion with three eyes and four arms. One left-hand holds a weapon and the other a lotus. The other 2 hands respectively display defending and granting gestures. Katyayani, who is revered for her bravery, power, and ability to defeat her foes, is thought to be Durga's warrior form. On the sixth day of Navratri, worshipping Katyayani is thought to aid in overcoming challenges, triumphing in conflicts, and finding success. "Om Devi Katyayanyai Namah" 

These are the mantras of Mother Katyayani: 

Day 7: Kaalaratri

Worshipped on the seventh night, Maa Kalaratri is the cleanser of darkness and ignorance. she has black skin plenteous l hair and four hands, two clutching a cleaver and a torch, while the remaining two are in the mudras of "giving" and "protecting". She is mounted upon a Donkey. The words "time" and "night" in the name Kaalaratri, Kala and Ratri, are the origins of the name. She also goes by the name Shubhankari, which translates to "one who does good." According to Hindu mythology, Kaalaratri is the destroyer of darkness and ignorance as well as the one who bestows wisdom, fortitude, and protection upon her believers. The demon Raktabija, who had the ability to double himself each time a drop of his blood fell to the ground, was slain by the goddess Durga in the form of Kaalaratri, according to legend. According to legend, Kaalaratri drank Raktabija's blood to keep it from touching the ground and end his power. "Om Devi Kalaratryai Namah"

These are the mantras of Mother Kaalaratri: 

Day 8: Mahagauri

This form of Shakti radiates peace and compassion. She is dressed in a white or green sari and holds a drum and a trident on two hands. She is often depicted riding a bull. On the eighth day of Navratri, a nine-day celebration honouring Goddess Durga in all of her manifestations, she is worshipped. Mahagauri is portrayed as a lovely woman with four arms who is mounted on a white bull. She is viewed as a representation of innocence, tranquilly, and peace. The words "Maha" and "Gauri" both imply great or extreme, which symbolises the purity and beauty of the subject. Mahagauri is revered because it is thought to bring happiness, prosperity, and calm into one's life.

These are the mantras of Mother Mahagauri: 

Day 9: Siddhidatri

Ensconced upon a lotus, most commonly, with 4 arms, and is the possessor of 26 different wishes to grant Her bhaktas. Maa Siddhidatri's famous pilgrim centre, is located in Nanda Parvat in the Himalayas. Hindu deity Siddhidatri is the goddess Durga's ninth and last manifestation. On the ninth day of Navratri, an Indian celebration that lasts nine days and honours Goddess Durga in all of her manifestations, she is honoured. One is said to be able to achieve self-realization and be freed from the cycle of birth and death by adoring her.

These are the mantras of Mother Siddhidatri: 

Characteristics of Durga Mata

Power: Durga Mata is considered to be the embodiment of power and strength. She is often shown carrying weapons such as a sword or trident to represent her ability to destroy evil forces.

Example: In the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, Durga Mata is invoked by Lord Rama to help him defeat the demon king Ravana and his army.

Protection: Durga Mata is also known for her protective nature. She is believed to shield her devotees from harm and to provide them with courage and strength to face challenges.

Example: In the Durga Saptashati, a Hindu scripture dedicated to Durga Mata, there are stories of how she protected her devotees from various threats, including demons and natural disasters.

Compassion: Despite her fierce form, Durga Mata is also revered for her compassion and kindness towards her devotees.

Example: In the Navratri festival, which is dedicated to Durga Mata, devotees fast and pray to seek her blessings for happiness and prosperity.

Wisdom: Durga Mata is also considered to be the embodiment of wisdom and knowledge.

Example: In the Devi Mahatmya, another Hindu scripture dedicated to Durga Mata, there are stories of how she imparted knowledge and wisdom to her devotees and helped them overcome ignorance and delusion.

Eighteen Armed Bronze Goddess Durga Statue Standing on Bull with Lion

The Navratri involves the practice of different customs and rituals. In fact, different regions in India observe the festival in different ways. While some devotees honor the festival with feasting, other devotees, on the other hand, follow one of the most common practices of fasting for all nine days. Aside from this, other festival rituals include praying to the Goddess Durga, singing devotional hymns, offering sweets, fruits, and gifts, as well as visiting family members. From Goa to Gujarat, North India to West Bengal, Bihar to Karnataka, and across other regions all over the country, many varying traditional practices, spiritual customs, and festive celebrations are observed. Aside from these, those celebrating the festival also pay particular attention to their attire throughout the nine days of Navratri. Different colors have particular significance and should be worn on specific days. Throughout the festival, devotees don their best ethnic attires that feature eye-catching designs, rich colors, and vibrant ornamentations to reflect the joyous triumph of goddess Durga and good over evil. While many different festivals and celebrations are observed in India, the Navratri is undoubtedly one of the most important and significant in the country’s rich culture. 

Key Takeaways

  • Navratri is a nine-day festival celebrated in India to honor the divine feminine energy and to invoke the blessings of the goddess Durga.

  • The festival is celebrated in different ways across India, with different regions having their unique customs and traditions.

  • The festival involves the worship of the nine forms of the goddess Durga, with each day of the festival dedicated to a specific form of the goddess.

  • The festival is marked by fasting, prayer, and the performance of devotional music and dance, such as garba and dandiya.

  • The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, with the goddess Durga symbolizing the triumph of righteousness over evil forces.

  • The festival is an occasion for family and community gatherings, with people coming together to celebrate, sing, and dance.

  • Durga is considered to be a manifestation of the divine feminine energy, or Shakti.

  • Despite her fierce appearance and warrior-like nature, Durga is also known for her compassion towards her devotees.

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