Navratri (Sanskrit: नवरात्रि, literally “nine nights”), also spelled Navaratri or Navarathri, is a multi-day Hindu festival celebrated in the autumn every year. It is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian subcontinent. Theoretically, there are four seasonal Navratri. However, in practice, it is the post-monsoon autumn festival called Sharad Navratri that is the most observed in the honor of the divine feminine Devi (Durga).
Navratri is a festival dedicated to the worship of the Hindu deity Durga. The word Navaratri means ‘nine nights’ in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights.During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Devi are worshipped. The tenth day is commonly referred to as Vijayadashami or “Dussehra” (also spelled Dasera). Navaratri is an important major festival and is celebrated all over India and Nepal. Diwali the festival of lights is celebrated twenty days after Dasera.
When is Navaratri in 2017?
Navaratri in 2017 will start on Thursday, 21 September, and will continue for 9 days until Friday, 29 September
The Navratri commences on the first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashwin. The festival is celebrated for nine nights once every year during the beginning of October, although as the dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar, the festival may be held for a day more or a day less.
The Navratri is celebrated as the Durga Puja festival in West Bengal. It is the most important annual festival to Bengali Hindus, and a major social and public event in eastern and northeastern states of India, where it dominates the religious life. The occasion is celebrated with thousands of temporary stages called pandals are built in community squares, roadside shrines and large Durga temples in West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, eastern Nepal, Assam, Tripura and nearby regions. It is also observed by some Shakta Hindus as a private, home-based festival.Durga Puja festival marks the battle of goddess Durga with the shape-shifting, deceptive and powerful buffalo demon Mahishasura, and her emerging victorious.
The last five days of Navratri mark the popular practices during Durga Puja. The festival begins with Mahalaya, a day where Shakta Hindus remember the loved ones who have died, as well the advent of warrior goddess Durga. The next most significant day of Durga Puja celebrations is the sixth day, called Shashthi where the local community welcome the goddess Durga Devi and festive celebrations are inaugurated. On the seventh day (Saptami), eighth (Ashtami) and ninth (Navami), Durga along with Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartikeya are revered and these days mark the main Puja (worship) with recitation of the scriptures, the legends of Durga in Devi Mahatmya and social visits by families to elaborately decorated and lighted up temples and pandals .
After the nine nights, on the tenth day called Vijayadashami, a great procession is held where the clay statues are ceremoniously walked to a river or ocean coast for a solemn goodbye to Durga. Many mark their faces with vermilion (sindoor) or dress in something red. It is an emotional day for some devotees, and the congregation sings emotional goodbye songs. After the procession, Hindus distribute sweets and gifts, visit their friends and family members.