India is a land that is known for its colours, its celebrations and the festivities – it is a land that is known for the joy and revelry with which each festival is celebrated and it is also recognised for the deep reverence that underlies each of them. What is also interesting to note is how the celebrations, the beliefs and traditions change from one region of the country to another. One festival that is almost upon us and is celebrated for more than a week is Navratri – while most people know about the celebration of Navratri, the dressing up, the dancing and a general sense of joy, how many people would actually know about the importance of Navratri and why it is actually celebrated.
Let’s start with what is Navratri:
If one were the break the word up, it would be Nav, which means nine and ratri, which means night – so Navratri means nine nights. As per the Shakta and Vaishnava Puranas, Navratri falls four times in a year:
- Sharada Navratri, which falls close to the autumn equinox (September-October) is the most celebrated and it starts on the first day of the bright fortnight of the Ashwini month of the lunar calendar. The celebration is centred around the goddesses, so, Durga, Saraswati and Lakshmi are worshipped with immense devotion and fervour.
- The next most prominent Navratri is Chaitra Navratri, which is also known as Vasantha Navratri or spring Navratri and comes during the Chaitra month (March-April) and while Durga is prayed to during this time as well, but its only her nine forms that are worshipped. The Chaitra Navratri importance is also enhanced by the fact that the last day is Ram Navami, the birth date of Lord Rama.
- Magha Navrarti is observed during the Magha month (January-February) is also known as Gupt Navratri and the fifth day is what is celebrated as Vasant Panchami.
- Finally, there is Ashadha Navratri that is observed in June-July and is a regional or even individually conducted pooja.
While most people like to dress up in their finest during the festival days, there is actually importance of each day of Navratri and there is a colour associated with each day.
- The first day is dedicated to Goddess Shailputri, who is the daughter of the mountain king. She is also considered an avatar of Parvati, who is the wife of Lord Shiva. The colour for Pratipada or day one is yellow – importance of yellow colour in Navratri is that it is meant to celebrate sunshine and a sense of joy that is felt at the start of the festive days. People also offer jasmine flowers to Mata Shailputri, because it is said to be her favourite flower.
- The second day is dedicated to Goddess Brahmcharini, who is said to be the second avatar of Durga. It is said that this is the avatar of Durga that can give you moksha or salvation. On this day, people wear green, as it signified a new beginning as well as growth. People believe that if they wear green on this day, it will bring energy and growth into their lives too.
- Day three is dedicated to Goddess Chandraghanta, who is said to be the bringer of peace, prosperity and tranquillity in life. Grey is the colour for this day, as it symbolizes the zeal and grit to terminate all evil.
- The fourth day is devoted to Goddess Kushmanda, the originator of the Universe and the one who is considered the smiling goddess. Because orange is one of the most cheerful colours on the spectrum, this is the colour of the day – it is meant to symbolise vibrancy and knowledge.
- The fifth day is dedicated to Goddess Skandmata, who combines the strength and vulnerability of a mother. Her purity and peacefulness are celebrated by people with the colour white.
- On day six, Goddess Katayayani is celebrated – she was born to the renowned sage Kata and was known for her courage. Her beauty and courage are celebrated by devotees by wearing the colour red.
- The seventh day, Durga is celebrated in her fiercest form, also known as Kal Ratri. This form of Durga is often represented with skin that is dark blue in colour, which is why blue is the colour of this day. Blue is meant to signify her incredible strength and energy that is truly divine.
- On the eighth day, Maha Gauri is worshipped for her intelligence and calm demeanour – she is considered the goddess of happiness and the colour devoted to her day is peacock green. The importance of green colour in Navratri is that it symbolises a sense of harmony and joy; like seeing lush green fields.
- On the final and ninth day, the rejuvenating and healing powers of Goddess Siddhidatri are worshipped and the colour pink is the colour of choice for her. Pink is meant to depict hope and a sense of self-refinement.
Each of these days is meant to be a celebration, but the spiritual importance of Navratri goes way beyond – each day, there is meant to be introspection and self-reflection and a deeper understanding of the shakti of Devi. It is about the story of Mahishasura and his fight with Kali that lasted for nine days and his eventual death at her hands; the victory of good over evil. To signify the ultimate victory, the last day of the Navratri is also celebrated as Dusshera; the day Lord Rama defeated the Lankan evil king Ravana too.
What is interesting to note is that Navratri celebration in India varies from state to state – in the northern parts of India, you will see people fasting and attending jagratas (religious music programs that last through the night). On Ashtami day, little girls, also known as kanyas are worshipped, as they are seen as forms of Devi herself. In south India, the celebrations are mainly in the temples, which are decked up and at homes, you will see the golu being set up. There are special poojas for Goddess Saraswati, wherein children pray to her to be blessed with wisdom, knowledge and the ability to perform well academically. In the western and eastern parts of India, this is the time to celebrate and revel – so while in Gujarat, there is garba and dandiya in every corner, in Kolkata, it is all about pandal hopping and eating!When you are gearing up for traditional Navratri celebration, you will need to start your shopping at Samskara, because this is where you can find elegant pooja items, including pooja thalis, brass lamps and metal flower baskets. Whether you are looking to deck up your home and bring an element of the traditional into your home during the festive season or want to gift something special to family or friends, Samskara Home is the place to shop!