Navratri is the celebration of the various forms of the Mother Goddess. The story of Navratri tells us how the Demon Mahishasura was defeated by Goddess Durga. The Goddess appeared amongst her devotees in answer to their prayers. She did so to rid the world of evil and to protect her children.
The celebrations of Navratri go on for nine whole days. It is not a celebration that holds itself back by any means. The devotees go all out and decorate the whole city in colours and splendor to invite the Goddess Durga among them. There is no dearth of pomp and show during this festival.
But these celebrations are not empty, as each and every ritual of Nephritic has a deeper meaning to it. Each day of the Navratri has a meaning attributed to it. Today, we shall look at the significance and meaning of each day of Navratri.
Days 1 to 3
The first three days of the Navratri are set aside for the worship of Goddess Durga and her forms. The essence and power of Goddess Durga is called upon in its various forms and worshipped.
Day 1: Goddess Kumari
Kumari or a young girl child is the center of worship on the first day. She is playful, innocent and the representative of the start of the universe.
Day 2: Goddess Parvati
Goddess Parvati represents the grown up girl who is yet to be a woman. This form is cheerful and bashful. She has immense powers that lets her persevere in her aim to be wed to Lord Shiva.
Day 3: Goddess Kali
Goddess Kali is the form of Goddess Durga that represents the mature woman who has seen the world and its truths. She can be forceful and terrible but is loving and benevolent to her devotees.
On the first day, seeds of barley are planted in a pot filled with fertile mud. The pot is kept in the pooja area and is taken care of. By the end of Navratri, the barley seeds would have sprouted shoots that may measure up to 5 inches. After the last pooja, the barley shoots are distributed among the participants of the pooja and are thought to be the blessing of the Goddess.
Days 4 to 6
The next three days of Navratri is set aside to worship Goddess Lakshmi. Goddess Lakshmi is the deity of wealth, peace and prosperity. The fifth day of Navratri is called Lalita Panchami and on this day, Goddess Saraswati is called upon. Books are all arranged in the pooja area to be honoured and worshipped.
On the seventh day, Goddess Saraswati is prayed to. She is the Goddess of knowledge and the bestower of art and creativity. The devotees of Goddess Saraswati pray to the Goddess to enhance their knowledge and wisdom. They also pray to her to help them escape the clutches of material bonds and maya.
The eighth day is the penultimate day of the Navratri celebrations. A havan is done on this day with the presence of the holy fire. This is done to appease and please the Goddess Durga. This is also a way of getting ourselves ready to bid Goddess Durga farewell. The offerings of the Havan may include kheer, til and ghee.
The ninth day of the Navratri celebrations is considered to be the peak of all the festivities. The last day is known as Maha Navami and Kanya Pooja is an important ritual done on this day.
Nine young girls, who are unmarried, are worshipped. Each of the nine girls represents one of the nine forms of Goddess Durga. The women of the house wash the girl's feet and the girls are fed good food and are offered new clothes as a gift. All this is done as a symbol of respect towards Goddess Durga.