What is Navaratri Festival?

In Sanskrit, the words Navaratri literally means nine nights, “nava” means nine and “ratri means nights. Nine forms of Shakti / Devi are worshipped during those nine nights and ten days. One of the major festivals held in honour of the divine feminine. Navratri occurs over 9 days during the month of Ashvin, or Ashvina (in the Gregorian calendar, usually September–October). It often ends with the Dussehra (also called Vijayadashami) celebration on the 10th day.

Across the world, Navratri is celebrated differently. It is a time of religious contemplation and fasting for many people; it is a moment of dancing and feasting for others. Especially in Gujarat, dances performed include Garba. Traditionally, the nine nights of the festival are devoted to various facets of the feminine spiritual principle, or shakti. According to Hindu tradition, there are three main types in which Goddess Durga has manifested herself, namely Mahasaraswati, Mahalakshmi and Mahakali. The first third of the festival focuses on the aspects of the Durga goddess, the second third on the Lakshmi goddess, and the final third on the Sarasvati goddess.

Dussehra is collected into Navratri in some countries, and the entire 10-day festival is known by that name. Dussehra is a time to celebrate the triumphs of good over evil, such as Durga 's victory over Mahishasura, whether during the festival or on the 10th day.And also Dussehra is associated in some parts of India with the triumph of the god Rama over the demon-king Ravana. The festival's highlight in North India is the Ram Lila ("Play of Rama"). Different episodes of the epic poem the Ramayana are dramatised on successive nights by young actors elaborately costumed and masked; the pageant is often concluded by the burning of demons' enormous effigies. There are also organized athletic tournaments and hunting expeditions. Some celebrate by building bonfires and burning Ravana effigies, often by filling them with fireworks.

During Navratri, the nine Maa Durga manifestations that are worshipped with fervour are believed to lift the divine spirit in us to help us conquer challenges and get rid of unwanted qualities to be filled with new freedom and purity.

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