Navratri - The nine sacred nights of Maa Durga

Navratri Goddess Durga

According to the Hinduism, the nine days (especially nights) of navratri are the most auspicious days as per the lunar calendar. This is the most sacred festival which is also known for the starting of festive season (especially in Autumn). These nine days are observed in the honor of the divine Goddess Durga. Each day/night is associated with a specific Avatar of Goddess Durga. Although there are 4 Navratri as per the Lunar Hindu Calendar yet two are celebrated in hidden form hence known as Gupt Navratri. The famous two Navratri are Vasant Navratri and Sharad Navratri.

Vasant Navratri - Vasant navratri marks the starting of Spring Season in India. It is observed in the lunar month of Chaitra (post-winter, March-April). This is also a mark of the starting of Hindu New Year. It is also observed as the starting of new year in many other communities and religions. In many regions the festival falls after autumn harvest, and in others during harvest.

Sharad Navratri - Sharad navratri marks the starting of Autumn season in India. It is observed in the lunar month of Ashvin (post-monsoon, September-October). In many regions the festival falls after spring harvest, and in others during harvest.

Navaratri is celebrated in different ways throughout India. Some fast, others feast. Some revere the same Mother Goddess but different aspects of her, while others revere avatars of Vishnu, particularly of Rama. The Chaitra Navaratri culminates in Rama Navami on the ninth day, and the Sharada Navaratri culminates in Durga Puja and Dussehra (Vijay Dashmi). The main story associated with Navratri is the famous battle that took place between Maa Durga and the demon Mahishasura, who represents egotism. All the nine days of the festival are dedicated to each distinct avatar of the Goddess Durga and each of these days has a significant colour attached to it, which devotees are expected to wear while taking part in the festivities.

Navratri Nau Durga

Navratri Day 1 - SHAILPUTRI: She is the embodiment of the collective power of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. It is in this form that the goddess was worshipped as the consort of Shiva. The colour of the first day is red--it depicts action and vigour.

Navratri Day 2 - BRAHMCHARINI: The one who practices devout austerity. She is blissful and endows happiness, peace, prosperity and grace upon all devotees who worship her. Filled with bliss and happiness, she is the way to emancipation or moksha. The colour of the second day is royal blue, since it's synonymous with a calm-yet-powerful energy.

Navratri Day 3 - CHANDRAGHANTA: She represents beauty and grace and is worshipped on the third day for peace, tranquillity and prosperity in life. She is the apostle of bravery and possesses great strength. The colour of the day is yellow.

Navratri Day 4 - KUSHMUNDA: She is considered the creator of the universe. It is believed that Kushmunda created the universe through a bout of laughter and made it verdant with vegetation. Hence, the colour of the day is green.

Navratri Day 5 - SKAND MATA: She is the mother of Skanda, or Karthikeya, who was chosen by the gods as their commander-in-chief in the war against the demons. She is accompanied by Skanda in his infant form. The colour of the day is grey, as it indicates the vulnerability of a mother who can turn into a storm cloud when the need arises to protect her child.

Navratri Day 6 - KATYAYANI: Katyayani was born to the great sage, Kata, as an avatar of Durga. Dressed in orange, she exhibits immense courage. Hence, the colour of the day is orange.

Navratri Day 7 - KALRATRI: She has a dark complexion, dishevelled hair and a fearless posture. She has three eyes that shine bright, with flames emanating from her breath. She is black like the goddess Kali. She is the most fierce form of goddess Durga, and she is dressed in white, a colour that represents peace and prayer. Thus, the colour of the day is white.

Navratri Day 8 - MAHA GAURI: Maha Gauri is intelligent, peaceful and calm. It is said that due to her long austerities in the deep forests of the Himalayas, her colour transformed from white to back. However, later, when Shiva cleaned her with the waters of the Ganga, her body regained its beauty and she came to be known as Maha Gauri, which means extremely white. The colour of the day is pink, denoting hope and a fresh start.

Navratri Day 9 - SIDDHIDATRI: She has supernatural healing powers. She has four arms and is always in a happy state of mind. She blesses all gods, saints, yogis, tantriks and all devotees as a manifestation of the mother goddess. The goddess is shown to be in a blissful state, just like the sky on a clear day. Thus, the colour of the day is sky blue, representing wonderment about the beauty of nature.