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Navratri 2018: Significance of Sharad Navratri, Date, Puja, Prasad

Navratri also spelled Navaratri or Navarathri, is a nine nights (and ten days) Hindu festival, celebrated every year in India. Navratri comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Nava’ which means nine and ‘Ratri’ that means night. It is celebrated in different ways in different parts of the country. Theoretically speaking, there are four seasonal Navratri. However, Sharad Navratri that falls in the Gregorian months of September and October.

In the eastern and northeastern states of India, the Durga Puja is synonymous with Navratri. It is believed that goddess Durga establishes Dharma after winning the battle against the demon on this day. In the northern and western states, Navratri is synonymous with "Rama Lila" and Dussehra. Dussehra is a festival that celebrates the victory of Lord Ram over the evils of Ravana. In southern states, the victory of different incarnations of Rama or Saraswati is celebrated. Wherein, the message in all the celebrations is the victory of good over the evil that establishes Dharma.

Sharad Navratri

As mentioned Sharad Navratri is the nine-day festival dedicated to Goddess Durga. The auspicious occasion will begin on 10th October, 2018 (Wednesday) and end on 19th October, 2018 (Friday). The nine days represent the nine different incarnations of Goddess Durga.

The nine forms of shakti also known as Navdurga are worshipped in these nine days all over the country. The country is painted in festivities and colors, dhol and prayers make these nine nights filled with positivity.

The ancient Brihat Dharma Purana recalls the story of how ten forms of devi (Das Mahavidyas) first came into existence. According to the mythology, Goddess Sati the daughter of Daksha, had married Lord Shiva against her father’s wish. In order to insult his son in law, Daksha planned a Yajna (fire sacrifice) to which he invited all the goddesses and gods, except for Shiva. Sati got to know about this Yajna from Narad Muni and asked Shiva for permission to attend the Yajna. But infuriated by the insult, Shiva asked Sati not to go at the prayer gathering. Sati was so angered that her body turned black and she took the form of goddess Kali. To prove to Shiva her real self, she incarnated in other forms of her divine self. The world trembled under her anger and while Shiva tried to flee, but wherever he went, the ten incarnations of Goddess Sati followed him. These ten incarnations are called as Das Mahavidyas.

The nine forms of Goddess Durga are Shailputri, Brahmcharni, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandmata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Mahagauri and Sidhidatri. During the Sharad Navratri, these nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped on the nine days. The tenth day of the festival is called Vijayadashmi or Dussehra which marks the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. It is the day when good won over evil. On this day the idol of Goddess Durga is immersed in water

In Gujarat, Maharashtra and southern parts of Karnataka people celebrate Sharad Navratri with Garba, a classical dance of Gujarat. In West Bengal, the last four days of Sharad Navratri are celebrated by offering prayers to goddess Durga also known as Durga Puja. It is believed that goddess Durga had destroyed Mahisashura during this time and with him ended the evil.

Puja-

Early morning hours of the nine days are considered most auspicious time of the day for Durga Puja. Sthapana of the Durga idol and Kalash with coconut and mango leaves is done on the first day of the Durga Puja. It is also a custom to sow barley seeds in a pot and water it daily. On all the nine days prayers are conducted. All the devotees must recite the Durga Saptshati. On the ninth day of Navratri, Kanya Pujan is performed in which nine girls (who haven’t reached their sexual maturity) are invited to the puja at the house and are fed and their feet are touched to take the blessings. The nine girls are considered to be nine forms of goddess Durga and are worshipped on the day.

Dates for 2018 Sharad Navratri

  • 10th October- Ghatasthapna/ Pratipada- Goddess Shailaputri Maa is worshipped
  • 11th October- Dwitiya- Goddess Chnadraghanta Maa is worshipped
  • 12th October- Tritiya- Goddess Khushmanda Maa is worshipped
  • 13th October- Chaturthi- Goddess Skandmata Maa is worshipped
  • 14th October- Panchami- Goddess Katyayni Maa is worshipped
  • 15th October- Shashthi- Goddess Saraswati Maa is worshipped
  • 16th October- Saptami- Goddess Kalratri Maa is worshipped
  • 17th October- Saptami- Goddess Mahagauri Maa is worshipped
  • 18th October- Ashtami- Goddess Siddhidatri Maa is worshipped
  • 19th October- Vijay Dashmi/ Dussehra

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