नवरात्री, navarātrī or नवरात्रि, navarātri

"nine nights"

Navaratri is one of the most important holidays for shaktists and hindu in general. The holiday lasts 9 days and nights. Nights are especially important as according to the tantra it is the best time for worshipping the Goddess. First 3 days and nights of Navaratri focuse on aspects of the goddess Kali, second on the goddess Lakshmi and the last three on the goddess Sarasvati.

After autumn Navaratri (on the tenth day of the light half of the month Ashvin) Dussehra is celebrated. This day is also called Vijayadashami (the victorious tenth day). The tenth day after spring Navaratri is Ramanavami. According to the Puranas, the great Goddess Durga, who symbolizes the Shakti of all Deities, was fighting with demons during 9 days and nights. At the end she conquered the mightiest of them — Mahishasura. The description of this story can be found in "Markandeya Purana", "Devi bhagavata Purana", "Chandi Purana" and other manuscripts.

Following the precepts and worshipping Durga during Navaratri leads to new knowledge, self-development, and health throughout the year. For spiritual practice, this time is especially fruitful for the realization of the Shakti mantras and sadhanas and also for initiations. Sadhana performed during these days usually has strong and stable results.

Дурга побеждает Махишасуру

There are two main Navaratri: Ashvina-Navaratri (autumn) and Vasanta-Navaratri (spring). There are also two less known Gupt Navratri in summer and winter. However some of the Goddess's bhaktas, regularly performing nitya-sadhana, worship her every month, beginning with the first lunar day. The exact dates of the holiday are calculated by the lunar calendar and therefore are not fixed in time:

  • Autumn Navaratri is celebrated starting with the first day of the light half of the moon (shukla-paksha) in the month of Ashvin.
  • Spring Navaratri starts from the first day of the month Chaitra and ends with the holiday Ram Navami.
  • Summer Gupt Navratri begins from the first day of the shukla-paksha in the month of Ashada. During this Navaratri it is favorable to worship Varahi, one of the seven Matrikas in "Devi Mahatmyam".
  • Winter Gupt Navratri is celebrated from the beginning of the first day of the Shukla-paksha in the month of Magha.
The exact dates of Navaratri can be found on the site of Panchanga (for the particular region):

There is also Navaratri devoted to other deities, such as: Datta Navaratri, Banashankari Navaratri, Shakambari Devi Navaratri and so on, but they are not as popular and are not celebrated everywhere.

The meaning and symbolism of the holiday

During Navaratri people perform pujas to the Goddess Durga or to her different aspects. Mantras, stotras, kavachas and other sacred texts are chanted. Special attention is given to the reading of "Devi-Mahatmya" (the legend of the Goddess's greatness). It is a part of Markandeya-Purana. Other names of this text are "Durga Saptashati", "Chandipatha" (reading about Chandi) and "Shri Shri Chandi" (Holy Chandi). "Devi-Mahatmya" consists of 13 chapters and 700 shlokas which describe the essence of the knowledge about the Great Goddess and her victory upon the mighty demons. Basically the text is divided into 3 parts and each of them is traditionally devoted to one of the aspects of Devi.

The first part (pratham charitra) is devoted to Mahakali, the second one (madhyama charitra) — to Mahalakshmi and the third part (uttama charita) — to Mahasarasvati. The 9 nights of Navaratri is also divided into 3 periods of 3 days, during which an accent is made on worshipping the corresponding aspect of the Goddess.

Создание Дурги

During the first three days of worshipping the Goddess in the aspect of Kali, sadhaka eradicates imperfections in his heart, concerning ignorance, laziness, inertia, anger and negative tendencies of the mind. The next 3 days Lakshmi fills a purified person with joy and virtues, developing divine qualities — compassion, purity, the stability of the mind. Simultaneously it symbolizes the creative process which occurs after the destruction of the old and negative.

The last three days and nights are dedicated to worshipping Sarasvati who gives wisdom and light to our consciousness and opens creative abilities.

The final tenth day of the holiday, called Vidjaya-dashami, is the ultimate victory of Durga over all demons. In the spiritual plane, it symbolizes the higher realization of «I-ness». On this day a special puja is performed and guests are treated.

On the days of the holiday, it is recommended to fast, exclude tea, coffee, and other intoxicants, perform dhyana, as it is the best time for purification. In Navaratri sadhaka consequently eradicates imperfections which are connected to the three gunas — tamas, rajas, and sattva.

In Natha Sampradaya, Navaratri is celebrated in many temples and ashrams, especially in Shakti-pithas such as Devi Patan or Jvalamukhi. During these days pujas are performed all night and all day. In certain days of Navaratri Yoga-Maya Balsundari puja is performed where Nathas from different panthas take part.