1. Why Sharadiya Navratri is celebrated..?
According to the stories narrated in Hindu religious texts, Goddess Durga, the Goddess of Shakti, killed Mahishasura and destroyed the demonic power and saved the good of the universe. It was the month of Ashwina when Goddess Durga attacked Mahishasura and fought with him for nine days and killed him on the tenth day. Therefore, these nine days of the month of Ashvi are devoted to the worship of Shakti. According to Panchanga, Autumn begins in the month of Ashwina, hence it is called Sharadiya Navratri. The 10th day of Sharadiya Navratri is celebrated as Vijayadashami.
2. History of Navratri festival:
There are many legends behind Navratri celebrations. Legend has it that Goddess Durga fought the demon Mahishasura for nine days and then killed him on the night of Navami. Since then the goddess is known as 'Mahishasuramardini'. Since then, her 9 forms are worshiped while observing the Navratri fast dedicated to the power of Mother Durga.
According to another legend, Lord Sri Rama killed the evil Ravana and saved the good from destruction. To achieve this objective, Narada requested Sri Rama to perform the fasting rituals of Navratri. Then Lord Sri Rama, after completing his fast, attacked Lanka and killed Ravana. Since then Navratri Vrat is being performed.
3. Significance and Practices:
This festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and pomp in various states of India. Durga Puja is another name for the festival. While Hindus across the country celebrate the festival with rites and rituals, the Gujarati and Bengali communities celebrate it with grandeur. Dussehra is the last day of praying to Goddess Durga throughout the day. This day is known by different names in every state. It is also known as Navami or Vijayadashami. Navratri also known as Navadurga Parva is believed to be the most auspicious time to worship Shakti (divine energy) as Goddess Durga.
Ghatastapana or Kalashastapana Puja is one of the important rituals of Navratri festival. The installation is believed to mark the beginning of the nine days of Navratri. Kalashasthapane Puja is performed to invoke Goddess Shakti. In some parts of the country, Kanya Puja is performed, which involves worshiping nine virgins representing the nine forms of Goddess Durga. The occasion also includes the ritual of washing the feet of maidens and offering gifts to show respect to the goddess. The festival is dedicated to female deities, in some communities women are worshiped during these nine days. Dussehra is the last day of Navratri, which commemorates Lord Rama's victory over Ravana. Consequently, the festival represents the victory of good over evil. Effigies of Ravana are burnt on this day. People worship with weapons and other powerful objects.
Navratri festival on the one hand depicts Goddess Durga fighting the giant demon Mahishasura for 9 days and slaying the wicked, on the other hand, Lord Rama slaying the evil Ravana, ending evil and protecting the good. During these 9 days we remember Goddess Durga and Lord Rama. As Navratri signifies the victory of good over evil, Navratri festival is celebrated to kill our bad thoughts, unpleasant events, and the clamor of negative energies.
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