Navarati is an important major fastival dedicated to the worship of hindhu deity Goddess Durga. The word navaratri means nine nights in Sanskrit. It is a nine nights and ten days, long festival in which nine forms of Goddess Shakti are worshiped. The tenth day is referred to as “Vijayadashami” or “Dusshera” (is also spelled as dasara). It is a nine days long festival in which the Goddess Durga is worshipped in nine different forms. People all over the country celebrate this festival with immense joy and enthusiasm. This festival in Hindu religion is considered to be an eternally enlightening festival.
Navratri lasts for nine whole days. Each day of the nine-day festival are dedicated to the worship of different forms of Goddess Durga, which unfolds the religious importance & significance of the occasion.
The first three days of Navratri are dedicated to the supreme powerful force called dressed in red and mounted on a lion. Goddess Durga is meant to all our contaminations, evils and defects. Her various incarnations - Kumari, Parvati and Kali - are worshipped during these days. They represent the three different classes of womanhood that include the child, the young girl and the mature woman.
Next three days are dedicated to as the mother of spiritual wealth, , dressed in gold and mounted on an owl. She is the one who is considered to have the power of showering on her devotees with the blessings of never-ending wealth.
Finally, last three are dedicated to the goddess of wisdom , dressed in milky white and mounted on a pure white swan. She is the one who is responsible for spiritual enlightenment and overall success in life.
Sweetmeats are prepared for the celebrations. Children and adults dress up in new bright-colored dresses for the night performances. Dandiya and Garba Rass are the highlights of the festival in Gujarat, while farmer sow seeds and thank the Goddess for her blessings and pray for better yield. In older times, Navratri was associated with the fertility of Mother Earth who feed us as her children.
In some communities, people undergo rigorous fasts during this season that lasts for the nine days of Navratri. The festival culminates on Mahanavami. On this day, Kanya Puja is performed. Nine young girls representing the nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshiped. Their feet are washed as a mark of respect for the Goddess and then they are offered new clothes as gifts by the worshiper. This ritual is performed in most parts of the country.
The story associated with Navratri can be found in various Hindu religious texts like Markandeya Purana, Vamana Purana, Varaha Purana, Shiva Purana, Skanda Purana, Devi Bhagavatam and Kalika Purana. The story of Navratra is the symbolic message of the fact that however glorious and powerful the evil become, at the end it is the goodness that wins over all of the evil. The story is associated with Maa Durga and Mahisasura, the buffalo headed demon.
The story begins from the life of two sons of Danu called Rambha and Karambha who performed austerities by to gain extreme power and authority. When their prayers became deeper and austerities became exceptional, the King of the heaven God Indra got perturbed. Out of fear, he killed Karambha. Rambha, who came to know about his brother’s death, became more stubborn to win over the Gods. He increased the intensity of his austerities and finally got several boons from gods like great brilliance, beauty, invincibility in war. He also asked a special wish of not being killed by either humans or Gods or Asuras.
He then considered himself immortal and started freely roaming in the garden of Yaksha where he saw a female-buffalo and fell in love with her. To express his love, Rambha disguised in the form of a male-buffalo and copulated with the female buffalo. However, soon after that a real male buffalo discovered Rambha mating with the she-buffalo and killed him. It was due to Rambha’s inflated ego that killed him, out of which he has not asked his death to be spared from the wrath of animals. As the pyre of Rambha was organized, the female-buffalo, who was copulated with him jumped into the funeral pyre of Rambha to prove her love. She was pregnant at that time. Thus, demon came out of the with the head of a buffalo and human body and he was named Mahisasura (the buffalo headed demon).
Mahishasura was extremely powerful. He defeated the gods and the demons and acruierd power over the entire world. He even won over the heaven and threw devtas outside it. He captured the throne of Indra and declared himself to be the the lord of the gods. The gods led by Brahma approached Vishnu and Shiva and evaluated them of the situation. In order to save the Gods, the three supreme deities emerged a light of anger, which combined to the take the shape of a terrible form and this was Durga. All the gods then granted this Goddess of power with all the supreme weapons they had. This is why; Durga is called the brilliance of all the Gods.
When the goddess was seen by Mahishasura, he was mesmerized by her beauty. Her then fell in love with her and proposed to marry her. The goddess said she will marry him, if he defeated her in the battle. Then began a scary and terrible battle between both of then which continued for nine days. Finally, on the last day, Durga took the form of Chandika and stood over the chest of Mahishasura and smashed him down with her foot. She then pierced his neck with her spear and cut off his head off with her sword. It is the day when Vijayadashmi is celebrated.