Navaratri, also called Sharada Navarati or Navrata, is a major Hindu festival that is celebrated by Hindus around the world and in India over a span of nine nights post monsoon autumn. It is essentially a celebration of good over evil. Navratri has a different significance all over India and is celebrated in the Hindu calendar month of Ashvin, mostly around September and October.
This year Navratri starts from October 17 with Shailputri and ends on October 26 with Vijay Dashami and Durga Visarjan (the immersing of the idol). The Ghatasthapana Muhurta falls on Pratipada Tithi and will start at 6:23 AM till 10:12 AM on October 17.
Navratri translates to Nav meaning nine and ratri meaning nights and honours the divine Goddess Durga who defeated the demon king Mahishasura in a battle.
Legend has it that the demon king Mahishasura was granted immortality by Lord Brahma, with the condition being that he could only be defeated by a woman.
Mahishasura attacked all the three spheres, Trilok, which includes Earth, Heaven and Hell, and nobody could defeat him. Then Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva combined their powers to create Goddess Durga.
What ensued was a 15-day log battle between Mahishasura and Goddes Durga, during which the demon king kept changing his form to confuse the goddess. When Mahishasura turned into a buffalo, Goddess Durga slayed him with her trishul. It was the day of Mahalaya when Mahishasura was killed.
Significance and celebration
Over the course of the nine days the different avatars of Goddess Durga are honoured They are Goddess Shailputri (Day 1), Goddess Brahmacharini (Day 2), Goddess Chandraghanta (Day 3), Goddess Kushmanda (Day 4), Goddess Skandamata (Day 5), Goddess Katyayani (Day 6), Goddess Kaalratri (Day 7), Goddess Mahagauri (Day 8) and Goddess Siddhidatri (Day 9).
During this festival families and friends get together to celebrate it as per their tradition. In Gujarat, dandiya is played during the festival and mostly people fast and spend their time in prayer.
In the East of India the festival is celebrated as Durga Puja while in the North, Ram Leela, a visual retelling of the Ramayana is held and the nine days end with Dussehra during which straw effigies of Ravana are burnt to depict the victory of good over evil.