Navarathri is an important festival in the Hindu Calendar. Though there are 2 navarathris celebrated in India, the Vasantha Navarathri (in March-April) and the Sharad Navarathri (in September-October), the Sharad Navarathri is more famous especially in South India.
Sharad Navarathri is dedicated to Mother Durga and is celebrated for 9 days (navarathri literally means 9 nights). The most important ritual of Navarathri is the Bommaikolu (arranging the dolls).
Mother Durga is worshipped on all the 9 days in three different forms. The first three days are dedicated to Durga, the next three days to Lakshmi and the final three days to Saraswathi. Pujas are offered three times a day . This is an important festival for women and girls as the Goddess worshipped is Mother Durga. When the demons, Madhu Kaitabas, Mahishasura, Shumbha and Nishumbha were attacking the Gods in the Heavens and Indra and other Gods had to flee from the Heavens, they prayed to the Divine Mother. She took different forms and killed the demons and installed the Gods back in Heaven. This victory of good over evil is celebrated as Navarathri and the Divine Mother is worshipped. All women (girls included) are treated as Devi and worshipped and offered all that represents goodness and prosperity.
Women and girls adorn themselves in their best and visit each others’ homes and they sing songs in praise of Mother Durga.
On the evening of Durgashtami (the eighth day of Navarathri), books are arranged in front of the kolu where Durga is worshipped and on the 9th day the books are worshipped as Devi Saraswathi. Devi Saraswathi is considered to be the Goddess who imparts knowledge. This day is celebrated as Saraswathi puja. Puja is offered on the next day known as Vijaya Dashami also and then the books are taken from the puja and distributed. This day is also celebrated as “Vidhyarambham” in Kerala, as a new beginning is made after the worship of Devi Saraswathi. Children are initiated to learning on this day. Vijaya Dashami is the last day of Navarathri. After the puja and Arati, the dolls are taken down and kept away for the next Navarathri.
Happy Navarathri to all. May Devi Bhagavathi bless us all with peace, happiness and prosperity!