Chaitra Navratri signifies the start of the Indian or the Hindu new year i.e. the 1st day or Prathama tithi of the Chitra Sudi every year.
Navratri, the festival of nine nights is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her nine forms. The nine days have great religious significance as Goddess Durga, the divine mother, had destroyed the evil force (in the form of the demon Mahisashura) during this period.
The festival is celebrated with true devotion and purity all over the country.
People from various sections of the society irrespective of caste and creed celebrate this festival by visiting temples and offering pujas at the Mother’s feet.
In some places special puja samarohas are also held by setting the images of Mother Durga on beautifully decorated pandals.
Temples dedicated to Shakti also make arrangement for pujas and bratas to mark these nine days as true symbols of devotion and adoration towards the divine mother.
Importance Of Chaitra Navratri
Chaitra Navratri is one of the most important festival of Hindus. Devotees worship Maa Shakti, Goddess of cosmic power, during this time and wish to be bestowed by divine benediction from Goddess. Fasting and praying mark the Navratri celebrations. Goddess Shakti manifests herself in three different dimensions as Goddess Laxmi, Saraswati and Durga. Navratri is divided into sets of three days to adore three different aspects of the supreme goddess or goddesses.
On the first three days Durga or Goddess of Energy is worshipped.The next three days are devoted to Lakshmi or Goddess of Wealth and the last three days for Saraswati or Goddess of Knowledge. On the eighth and ninth day, Yagna (sacrifice offered to the fire) is performed to honor Durga Mata and bid her farewell. On these days Kanya Puja is performed. Nine young girls (those who have not reached at the puberty stage) representing the nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshiped. In some regions a young boy also accompanies them who symbolizes Bhairav, who is considered as protector against all evils. Those who worship Goddess without any expectation or desire being fulfilled receive her blessings as ultimate freedom from all bondages.
Navratri and Tantra –
The period of Navratri is considered to be very significant and fruitful from view point of Tantric practices. It is said that one achieves greater Tantric powers during these period of Navratras. The cosmic motherly power blesses the worshipers who fathom mysterious ways of Tantra and practice it correctly. Those who worship Goddess in or around Shakti Peetha (Special Shakti Temples) harvest great rewards even faster.
Navratri, besides being a period of introspection and purification, is also considered an auspicious time for starting new ventures.
First Day - The first day is dedicated to the Goddess Durga is called Shailputri, the daughter of the Himalayas. She is a form of Shakti, the companion of Lord Shiva.
Second Day - The second day is dedicated to the Goddess Durga is known as 'Brahmacharini'. The name is derivative of the word 'Brahma', which means 'Tapa' or penace. She is also a form of Mata Shakti.
Third Day - The third day is dedicated to the goddess Chandraghanta, the symbolic representation of beauty and bravery.
Fourth Day - The fourth day is dedicated to the goddess Kushmandas, the creator of the entire Universe.
Fifth Day - The fifth day is dedicated to the Goddess Skand Mata, the mother of the chief warrior of the Gods army the Skanda.
Sixth Day - The sixth day is dedicated to the goddess Katyayani with three eyes and four hands.
Seventh Day - The seventh day is dedicated to the Goddess 'Kalratri', meant to make the devotees fearless.
Eighth Day - The eight day is dedicated to the Mata Rani or 'Maha Gauri', represents calmness and exhibits wisdom.
Ninth Day - The ninth day is dedicated to Durga also referred as Siddhidatri. It is believed that she has all the eight siddhis and is worshipped by all the Rishis and Yogis.