Navratri, a 9-day long festival is celebrated twice a year. The first Navratri of the year, Chaitra Navratri is celebrated in the months of March-April. It is also called Vasant Navratri as it falls in the spring season. While the Navratri festival celebrated in the autumn season is called Sharad Navratri.
This year, this 9-day long festival of Chaitra Navratri will begin from April 13 and last till April 22. ‘Navratri’ literally translates to nine nights for which the festival is observed. During these 9 days/nights, nine forms or incarnations of Goddess Durga are worshipped. The festival honours and celebrates Goddess Durga for defeating the demon Mahishasura in a battle.
The legend has it that demon Mahishasura was granted immortality by Lord Brahma on a condition that he could only be defeated by a woman. Considering no woman could kill him, he started causing upheaval in three realms Earth, Heaven and Hell. In order to stop him from wreaking havoc, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva combined their powers and created Goddess Durga.
A 15-day long battle was fought between Goddess Durga and Mahishasur. During these days, Mahishasur kept changing his shape and form to confuse the Goddess. The day, he assumed the form of buffalo, Goddess slew him with her Trishul.
Over the course of these nine days, different incarnations of Goddess Durga are worshipped. It is believed that Goddess Durga manifests in three major three forms, Mahasaraswati, Mahalakshmi, and Mahakali who further manifested in three more forms each.
Significance of the nine days:Navratri begins by worshipping Goddess Shailputri, daughter of the king of mountains, Parvati who is worshiped as the consort of Lord Shiva.
On the second day, Goddess Brahmcharini, the second avatar of Goddess Durga is worshipped to attain moksha.
The third day celebrates Goddess Chandraghanta for peace, tranquility and prosperity in life.
On the fourth day, Goddess Kushmanda, considered the originator of the Universe.
The fifth day is dedicated to Goddess Skandmata. She represents the vulnerability of a mother who can fight anyone when the need arises.
On the sixth day, goddess Katyayani is worshipped for she was born to the great sage, Kata and symbolises courage.
The seventh day is of Goddess Kal Ratri, the fiercest form of Goddess Durga.
The eighth day is dedicated to Goddess Maha Gauri who lends represents intelligence, peace, prosperity and calm.
On the ninth and final day, Goddess Siddhidatri who is known for having supernatural healing powers is worshipped.