About Navratra Festival
The annual NAVRATRA festival will begin in Katra (the base camp of MATA VAISHNODEVI) this year (2013), from 5th of October 2013, marking the beginning of Navratras. The beginning of Navratra festival in Katra coincides with the beginning of the nine-days of fasting for nine goddesses, various cultural events and competitions will be held during the festival in the Katra town of Reasi District. The Vaishno Devi shrine and Katra Town of Reasi District witnesses a massive surge of devotees during the nine-day festival of Navratri. Hundreds of Thousands of devotees from across the country and abroad arrive in Katra, the base camp, for their onward pilgrimage to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine. A pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine during the Navratri is considered most auspicious. The entire Katra Town has been given a new look and the pilgrims are impressed by the religious and festive atmosphere of the place. The entire premises of Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine have also been illuminated presenting a marvelous look.
Navratri is a festival of Hindus celebrated with devotion, love and fervour all over India. It is also called as Navratras. The mood of Navratri is very colourful & unique. It incorporates veneration along with commemoration by means of song and dance. Navratri basically means "Nine Nights" ("Nav" meaning nine and "Ratri" meaning nights). These nights are devoted to the reverence of Goddess Durga (Maa Durga) who exists in many forms and is the manifestation of the absolute energy that pervades the Universe. During these days and nights prayers are offered to Mother Goddess. For the devout these days are the sacrosanct for it is during these days when Goddess Durga takes a stock of her devotees and grants all blessings, removes ills and evils and ensures problematical life for her devotees.
Navratri is celebrated twice in a year:
Navratri in April/October - called the Vasant Navratri is the more famous one as it is for householders. This year the Navratri poojas will start on Saturday, the 5th of October and will continue for 9 days until Sunday the 13th of October Navratri in April-October period is called Vasantha Navratri which is good for attaining success in endeavours. Lord Rama celebrated this to attain spiritual power to accomplish His Incarnation purpose - that of slaying Ravana.
Schedule of Navratri October 2013
5th October 2013– Navratri – Festival of the nine nights begins.
Navratri's each night is dedicated to one form of Goddess Durga. That is every ratri of the Navratri corresponds to worship of different forms of Maa Durga.
This embraces Maa Shailputri, who was the daughter of Parvatraj Himalaya (King of the Mountain), wife of Lord Shiva and mother of Ganesha and Kartikeya;
Maa Brahmachaarini-, who gives the message of pure love to the world;
Maa Chandraghanta, who establishes Justice and wears crescent moon on Her head;
Maa Kushmaanda, who provides the basic necessities to the world;
Skand Maa, who gives the gift of differentiation of right from wrong to the world;
Maa Kaatyayini, who persistently battles against the evil and deceitful entities;
Maa Kaalratri, who killed Raktabeej ( a demon who produce a demon from every drop of blood that fell from his body. Goddess eventually licked the blood before it could reach the ground and hence conquered him);
Maa Chaamunda, who killed two demons--Chanda and Munda and restored tranquility;
Maa MahaGauri who also liberate the world of evil forces;
Mata Sidhidaarti, who is a treasure house of Mystic Powers (Yantra Tantra) and Knowledge (Gyaan).
Some may also say that the nine days are divided and devoted to the Trinity of God worshipped in a female form in which for three days Maa Durga (Goddess of valor) is worshipped, for three days Maa Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth) and three days for Maa Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge and Art). On the fifth day, that is, Lalita Panchami books are gathered, lamp is lighted to invoke Saraswati. The eighth and ninth day, Yagna (sacrifice offered to the fire) is performed to honour heavenly Goddess and bid her farewell.
The festival of Navratri (nav = nine and ratri = nights) lasts for 9 days with three days each devoted to worship of Maa Durga, the Goddess of Valor, Ma Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Maa Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge. During the nine days of Navratri, feasting and fasting take precedence over all normal daily activities amongst the Hindus. Evenings give rise to the religious Prayers in order to worship Goddess Durga Maa.
The 9 nights festival of Navratri begins on the first day of Ashwina of the bright fortnight. Seeds are sown, sprouting is watched, the planets are consecrated, and on the 8th and 9th days, Goddess Durga, Vijayashtami and Mahanavami are worshipped. The Devi Mahatmya and other texts invoking the Goddess who vanquished demons are cited.
Significance of 9 Nights
1st - 3rd day of Navratri
On the first day of the Navaratras, a small bed of mud is prepared in the puja room and barley seeds are sown on it. These initial days are dedicated to Durga Maa, the Goddess of power and energy.
4th - 6th day of Navratri
During these days, Lakshmi Maa, the Goddess of peace and prosperity is worshipped.
7th - 8th day of Navratri
These final days belong to Saraswati Maa who is worshipped to acquire the spiritual knowledge. This in turn will free us from all earthly bondage. But on the 8th day of this colourful festival, yagna (holy fire) is performed.
The holy festival of Navaratri is an amalgamation of various themes, with the common theme of the victory of good over evil. According to some legends, Vijayadashami or Dusshera is celebrated on the day Lord Ram kills Ravana. Demon king Mahishasura had Lord Brahma's boon that, he would be unconquerable by any male form. According to a Puranic legend, the mighty demon defeated the gods and their king, Indra. They then approached Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, who decided to destroy the demon. So they all combined their energies, and gave rise to Shakti and appealed
to Goddess Durga to come to their aid.
Equipped with lethal weapons and riding a ferocious lion, the Goddess in all her awesome majesty, destroyed the evil one without much ado. The 10th day, on which the goddess kills Mahishasura, is celebrated as Dusshera or Vijayadashami as the victory of good over evil. Dusshera (tenth day) is one of the significant Hindu festivals, celebrated with pomp and fervour all over the country.
On the tenth day, the Vijayadasmi day, colossal effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhkarna and son Meghnadh are placed in vast open spaces. Rama, accompanied by Sita and his brother Lakshmana, arrive and shoot arrows of fire at these effigies. The result is a deafening blast, enhanced by slogans of triumph. In burning the effigies the people are asked to burn the evil within them, and thus follow the path of virtue and honesty.