Navratri, the festival of the celestial nine nights, is celebrated with great fervour, not just in India but across the world. Dedicated to the worship of the Divine Feminine energy, the customs and rituals of Navratri vary across different regions but the common thread of expressing love to the Divine Mother binds all devotees. From Gujarat to West Bengal, Kashmir to Tamil Nadu, Navratri unites people in its loving embrace of devotion and celebration.
Navratri is the celebration of the Divine Feminine energy and the recognition of her power to create, nurture and transform. It presents an incredible opportunity for devotees to connect with their inner selves, to seek blessings and to invoke the qualities of strength, abundance and wisdom represented by the Goddess.
Sharad Navratri is the most widely known Navratri which is marked with grand celebrations and joyous enthusiasm. However, Navratri occurs not once but four times throughout the year, coinciding with the shift in the seasons. Each occurence of this sacred festival aligns with the shifting rhythms of the Earth, symbolising the ever-changing cycles of life and offering devotees an opportunity to embrace the inherent wisdom of nature. It also reflects Sanatana’s Dharma eternal link with nature which has always recognised and honoured Mother Earth’s rhythmic cycles.
Navratri teaches us the importance of embracing the cyclical nature of life, the inevitability of change and the need for balance and harmony. It serves as a reminder to honour and protect the environment, to cherish the Earth’s resources and to live in harmony with nature.
Navratri is not just a festival; it is a spiritual journey that unites devotees across borders, cultures and languages. It is a reminder of the universal power of love, devotion and eternal Divine Feminine energy that resides within all beings.
Gupt Navratri and Prakat Navratri are two distinct types of the sacred nine-day festival that honours the Divine Feminine energy. While both celebrations revolve around the worship of Goddess Durga and have similar spiritual significance, they differ in terms of their timing and observance.
Magha Navaratri which usually falls in the months of January or February and Ashad Navratri which occurs in the months of June or July are both Gupt Navratris. They are relatively lesser known and are not celebrated on a large scale. Instead of social celebrations, the Gupt Navratri is observed with spiritual austerities that require the Sadhaks to spend some time in solitude so that they can look inwards and connect with the Divine energy. The period of Gupt Navratri is highly mystical and hence extremely powerful and potent.
While Gupt Navratri focuses on personal spiritual practices and a more intimate connection with the divine, Prakat Navratri is a time of communal celebration and more outward expressions of devotion. Gupt Navratri provides an opportunity for individuals to delve deep into their spiritual journey and cultivate a strong inner connection, while Prakat Navratri brings people together in a shared celebration of the divine feminine energy.
Sharad Navratri which is celebrated in the month of September or October and Chaitra Navratri which occurs in the month of March or April are both Prakat Navratris. They are more widely known and are celebrated on a large scale with different forms of rituals and practices that bring people together. These special days are marked with the joyous celebrations which also involve dance, music and offerings of delicious food!
In essence, both Gupt Navratri and Prakat Navratri offer devotees a chance to honour and connect with the divine feminine aspect of creation. Whether in solitude or in the midst of joyful festivities, these two forms of Navratri provide devotees with different avenues to express their devotion and seek the blessings of the Mother Goddess.
Of the four Navratris, Sharad Navratri is the most widely known and celebrated one. It is also known as Maha Navratri. Sharad Navratri takes place in the month of Ashwin during the Autumn season, usually in the months of September or October.
The significance of Sharad Navratri is deeply rooted in the legends of Sanatana Dharma. Maa Durga fought against the demon Mahishasura for nine days and nine nights, ultimately emerging victorious on the tenth day, known as Vijayadashami or Dussehra. The festival of the sacred nine nights honours the Goddess Durga who symbolises courage, power and protection. It also stands as a symbol of the triumph of good over evil.
In states such as Gujarat and Rajasthan, Navratri is traditionally marked with grand-scale festivities. This celebratory spirit of Navratri is embodied by the energetic and vibrant Garba and Dandiya Raas dances. People dressed in colourful and traditional attire come together in large community spaces, adorned with elaborate decorations, to dance and celebrate throughout the night. The rhythmic music, synchronised dance steps, and the enthusiasm of the participants create an atmosphere of joy, unity, and devotion.
Over the years, the spirit of Garba and Dandiya Raas has spread across India and the world. Navratri celebrations have become a cultural phenomenon, with events and performances held in various cities and countries. People of all ages and backgrounds join in the revelry, embracing the rich heritage and experiencing the joy of community celebration.
Navratri culminates on the tenth day with Vijayadashami. On this auspicious day, effigies of the Ravana are burned as a symbolic representation of the victory of good over evil. This event is often accompanied by vibrant processions, cultural performances, and reenactments of the epic Ramayana, where Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana is celebrated.
Navratri is a time of renewal, joy, and devotion. It is an occasion for individuals to come together, connect with their spiritual roots, and celebrate the triumph of good over evil. The festival not only reinforces the significance of courage and righteousness but also promotes unity, cultural exchange, and the celebration of life.
Chaitra Navratri is celebrated in the spring season, usually in March or April. As per the Hindu calendar, Chaitra is the first month of the year and the Chaitra Navratri presents an incredible opportunity to begin the year by turning inwards and connecting with the Divine Feminine energy.
Navratri is not only a time of celebration but also a period of introspection and spiritual growth. Devotees observe fasting, perform rituals, and engage in prayers and meditation to seek the blessings of Goddess Durga. It is believed that during Navratri, the goddess descends to the earthly realm and showers her devotees with divine grace and blessings.
Chaitra Navratri is observed with great reverence in Northern India, particularly Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. During Chaitra Navratri, devotees honour and worship Goddess Durga and her various forms through fasting, recitation of sacred texts and performing ancient Sadhana.
The ninth day of Chaitra Navratri is celebrated as Ram Navami which commemorates the birth of Lord Rama. The celebration of Ram Navami is a reminder of Lord Rama’s teachings and the values he embodied, including truth, righteousness, and compassion. It serves as an occasion for individuals to introspect and strive to incorporate these virtues into their own lives. It is a time for devotees to seek blessings, find inspiration, and renew their commitment to leading a righteous life.
The relatively lesser known Magha Navratri holds immense spiritual significance. It is celebrated in the month of Magha, which typically falls in the month of January or February.
Magha Navaratri is a Gupt Navratri and is dedicated to the esoteric and mystical practices of worshipping the Divine Feminine energy. Engaging in spiritual practices such as fasting and meditating on the Divine Mother’s glory during the period of Magha Navaratri is known to yield great spiritual and material benefits. It brings divine blessings, protection and spiritual growth. Performing spiritual practices and performing ancient sadhanas during this period enhances their potency and efficacy.
Magha Navratri provides an opportunity for devotees to deepen their spiritual connection, seek blessings, and immerse themselves in the immensely powerful embrace of the Divine energy.
Ashada Navratri, also known as Gayatri Ashad Navratri, is a relatively lesser known navratri which is observed during the Ashad Shukla Paksha. It typically falls in the months of June or July.
Just like Magha Navratri, Ashada Navratri is also a Gupt Navratri. For Tantriks and Sadhaks, Gupt Navratri holds special importance. These nine days and nights are considered to be highly powerful, meritorious and beneficial to worship the sacred Divine Feminine.
During Ashada Navratri, devotees engage in various spiritual practices, including the Nav Durga Sadhana of Goddess Durga. It is believed that performing this Sadhana during the Gupt Navratri period can bestow manifold blessings upon individuals. The significance of Ashada Navratri lies in its ability to purify and rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul. It provides a conducive environment for devotees to engage in intense spiritual practices. The festival serves as an opportunity for individuals to deepen their connection with the divine and seek inner transformation.
This year, Ashadha Gupt Navratri falls on 19 June 2023 – 28 June 2023
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