The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights. Navratri is a significant Hindu festival, which is celebrated twice a year.Chaitra or Vasant Navratri (March-April), and Sharad Navratri (October-November). Both the celebrations center on the worship of Goddess Shakti.
During this period, the worshipper consumes plain food and meditate god. This helps gain good health and virtue. These nine days are also called the day of worshipping Shakti (Power). The three manifestations of Goddess Shakti are worshipped, with first three days dedicated to Goddess Durga, fourth, fifth and sixth days devoted to Goddess Lakshmi and last three days for Goddess Saraswati. The devotees observe fast during the festival, and break their fast on the eighth day (Ashtami) or ninth day (Navami).
History of Navratri:
- Legend says that when Mahishasura, the demon, acquired unbeatable powers and started taking away innocent lives, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Mahesh of the Hindu Trinity united their supreme powers and created Goddess Durga who entered a war with Mahishasura. This war extended for nine days and on the tenth day she beheaded him. These nine nights signify the festival of Navratri.
- As per Hindu mythology, Uma, daughter of King Daksha of Himalayas, who married Lord Shiva, once visited her parents to take part in a yagna. The story goes that when her father offended Lord Shiva, unable to bear the insults she jumped into the agnikund, which is why she is also known as Sati. In her rebirth, she married Lord Shiva and also made peace with her parents. It is said that Sati comes to stay with them for nine days, this is celebrated as Navratri.
- It is also said that Lord Rama worshipped Goddess Durga in all her nine forms, for nine days, in order to gather all the powers required to vanquish Ravana the demon, and release his wife Sita from his clutches. Those nine days imply Navratri, and the tenth day when he killed Ravana, came to be known as Vijaydashmi and is celebrated as Dussehra.