It is Navratri festival time! Festival of sweets, colors, social gatherings for nine days! Navaratri celebration is not limited to only India, but spread across the world due to the presence of Indians everywhere and the importance of Navratri. While there are 5 types of Navratri in all, two are considered to be of great significance, Chaitra Navaratri or Vasant Navratri, celebrated during March-April and Maha Navratri which is celebrated around September-October. Chaitra Navratri begins on April 8 this year and Indians everywhere get on with celebrating the festival once again.
Mythology behind the celebration of Chaitra Navaratri
While most people associate Navratri with nine days of fasting, it is important to know the significance of the festival. Navratri is a festival dedicated to Goddess Durga. According to legend, Prince Sudarsana of Kosala fled away with Manorama after the Manorama’s father was killed by King Yudhajit. Sudarsana was blessed with the grace of the Divine Mother following a chance incident. The prince Sudarsana had fled with Manorama as well as a Eunuch and was being sheltered by a Rishi. The son of a hermit who happened to be passing by the Ashram where Sudarsana had taken shelter, called the eunuch by his Sanskrit name Kleeba. The prince Sudarshana only caught on to the syllable Kli and instead pronounced it as Kleem. Kleem, incidentally, is a sacred Mantra. Repeated recitation of this mantra gave Prince Sudarsana peace of mind and the Divine Mother’s grace. The Goddess appeared in front of the prince Sudarsana and gave him divine weapons along with her blessing.
Goddess Durga also appeared in front of King Yudhajit, and instead of bowing to her, Yudhajit mocked her. As a result Yudhajit was turned to ashes by the Goddess. This made Prince Sudarsana, the then King of Kosala, to start worshipping the Devi in a grand ceremony every year. That tradition has been carried on to this day, when people worship the Divine Mother during Chaitra Navratri.
The nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped on nine different days. People all over the country gather in huge numbers to worship Goddess Durga with ardent devotion. While most people relate Navratri with nine days of fasting, one can even find images of Goddess Durga decorated over beautifully decked pandals. Temples dedicated to Shakti conduct special ceremonies during Navratri, with followers of the Divine Mother taking part in special pujas. Devotees forget their differences and worship the Goddess. It is the time where devotion fills the air and also an occasion for some events, competitions, games and entertainment.