The annual Hindu festival of Navaratri usually falls in the month of Ashvin (September-October) and is a part of the ten-day Dussehra festival. It celebrates the descent to Earth of Goddess Durga, the Divine in its feminine form.
There are four seasonal Navaratri in a calendar year, with one falling in Chaitra (March-April). Each Navaratri holds its particular significance and is celebrated differently by various communities.
However, Navaratri now signifies the autumn festival of Sharadiya Navaratri and is celebrated by everyone as the most important festival. In Sanskrit, “Nava” means nine, and “Ratri” stands for the night; hence, Navaratri or nine nights. Goddess Durga fought the dreaded and powerful demon Mahishasura for nine nights and eventually vanquished him on Vijayadasami, the victorious tenth day. Therefore, the underlying theme of this festival is the victory of good over evil and the establishment of dharma or righteousness once again.
According to the Hindu lunar calendar, Sharadiya Navaratri commences on the first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvin. Hence, October 15 through October 24 are the Navaratri 2023 dates, or the start and end of Navaratri 2023, respectively.
Navaratri and its Importance
As we have seen, Navaratri means nine nights. We sleep at nighttime and wake up in the morning rejuvenated and fresh. Similarly, Navratri is the time to experience deep rest and remain free from all kinds of worldly problems. This is why most people fast and meditate during this period.
During Navratri, we get to experience the innate divinity of the self. As the Goddess destroys the rakshasa Mahishasura, Navaratri’s importance gets highlighted as mankind, too, gets an opportunity to destroy vices such as laziness, arrogance, obsession, lust, greed, and so on.
During Navaratri, worshipping Goddess Durga serves as humanity's expression of gratitude to the Divine Mother, Shakti. Those spiritually awakened aim to help others recognise that Shakti is present within every individual. Such profound realisation often emerges when one delves deep into meditation and self-discipline.
Goddess Durga is worshipped in nine forms, each day representing a particular form. For example:
Day One: Shailaputri
Goddess Parvati (Goddess Durga) is worshipped as the daughter of the Himalayas. Shaila means rising to great heights. Hence, people worship Devi Shailaputri to attain the highest state of consciousness.
Day Two: Brahmacharini
Devi Brahmacharini also refers to Goddess Parvati when she undertook severe penance to win over Lord Shiva. “Brahma” refers to divine consciousness, while “achar” means behaviour.
Day Three: Chandraghata
Chandraghata is the special form Goddess Parvati assumed when she wed Lord Shiva. “Chandra” refers to the moon or our mind, which is restless by nature. “Ghanta” or “ghata” means a bell that only produces one kind of sound. Hence, Chandraghata refers to the mind being kept under control.
Day Four: Kushmanda
The Goddess is worshipped as Devi Kushmanda, referring to a pumpkin. “Ku” means little, “ushma” is energy, and “anda” is an egg. This is in reference to the cosmic egg (Hiranyagarbha), the source of all energy. The pumpkin is said to have the unique property of absorbing and radiating prana or life form.
Day Five: Skandamata
The fifth day is spent worshipping the motherly aspect of Goddess Durga. Worshiping the Divine Mother as Skandamatais brings wisdom, wealth, prosperity, and liberation.
Day Six: Katyayani
This form represents the divine anger of the Goddess to restore balance in the universe. She vanquishes all that is evil, signifying mankind to overcome vices as they are impediments on the path of spiritual evolution.
Day Seven: Kalaratri
The Divine Mother is invoked as Devi Kalaratri on the seventh day. She represents the fierce form of the Goddess. “Kala” or black and “ratri” or night, brings peace and comfort and is that infinite dark energy that is said to permeate the entire universe.
Day Eight: Mahagauri
Devi Mahagauri represents all that is beautiful and free in life and nature. She is the energy fuelling our lives on the path to liberation.
Day Nine: Siddhidatri
Siddhi means perfection; hence, we worship the Goddess as Devi Siddhidatri to make our lives perfect. She transforms the logic-seeking human mind into a dimension beyond time and space.
Navratri 2023 Kalash Sthapana
In 2023, Navaratri Kalash Sthapana or Ghatasthapana begins at 11:48 a.m. on October 15, and the auspicious period will end at 12:36 p.m. the same day. It is one of the most important rituals and heralds the beginning of Navaratri celebrations.
Items needed for Navaratri Kalash Sthapana:
- Wide, open pot of clay to sow the Sapta Dhanya (seven grains)
- Clean soil
- Small clay/brass pitcher
- Sacred thread/mouli
- Sacred water/Ganga jal to fill the Kalash (pitcher)
- Betel nuts
- Five Ashoka or mango leaves
- Raw rice (unbroken)
- Unpeeled coconut
- Red cloth to wrap the coconut
- Marigold flowers
- Durva grass
The Sapta Dhanya is sowed in the clay pot after adding soil. The sacred thread is tied around the neck of the Kalash after filling it up with holy water and adding betel nuts, coins, and perfume. The unpeeled coconut is wrapped with the red cloth and kept on top of the Kalash, surrounded by the five leaves. The Kalash is then placed at the centre of the clay pot. Mantras are chanted, invoking Goddess Durga to reside in the Kalash for nine days. Incense sticks and diyas are lit to enhance the spiritual vibrations of the area.
So, remember that the Navratri 2023 Kalash Sthapana Muhurat (auspicious timing) is between 11:48 a.m. and 12:36 p.m. on October 15.
The Shardiya Navratri 2023 calendar is as follows:
- October 15: Ghatasthapana, Shailputri Puja
- October 16: Brahmacharini Puja
- October 17: Sindoor Tritiya, Chandraghanta Puja
- October 18: Kushmanda Puja, Vinayak Chaturthi
- October 19: Skandamata Puja
- October 20: Katyayani Puja
- October 21: Saraswati Puja, Kalratri Puja (Saptami)
- October 22: Shardiya Navaratri 2023 Ashtami, Mahagauri Puja
- October 23: Maha Navami
- October 24: Navratri Parana, Vijayadashami, and Durga Visarjan (immersion)
According to Hindu tradition, Goddess Durga will be visiting Earth in 2023 on an elephant and not on her usual vehicle, the lion. Her visit riding an elephant is considered auspicious as plenty of rainfall is expected to see off a bumper harvest.
Navaratri 2023 Celebrations
With barely ten days to go for Navaratri 2023 celebrations to begin, everyone is busy preparing for yet another meeting with the Divine Mother. Marketplaces are busy selling all kinds of attire, and crowds of shoppers can be seen busy hunting for the right dress and footwear to wear. This is also the time of the year when businesses launch various enticing offers for a range of consumer items, from clothes and jewellery to new vehicles and houses.
We should be a part of the collective celebrations and be grateful to the Divine for blessing everyone with good health, prosperity, and happiness. Sharadiya Navaratri celebrations transcend all barriers erected by mankind, of religion, caste, social status, and so on, and beckons every individual to understand the true meaning of the occasion.
Every ritual and custom observed during festivals like Navaratri holds profound significance. However, many often overlook this depth, viewing these practices as mere traditions rather than pathways to a grander truth. Rituals are symbolic representations designed to focus our wandering minds on a singular point of concentration, allowing us to tap into the Universal Consciousness that exists within all beings. Therefore, Sharadiya Navaratri encourages us to abandon vices and walk on the path of virtue. The festival aims to promote goodwill and love, the fleeting nature of life, and how arrogance, selfishness, and greed lead to nowhere but suffering and misery.
Let us join hands and ensure the Navaratri 2023 celebrations uncover the latent goodness in each heart, filling it up with love and gratitude. Festivals such as these are sure to usher in world peace and prosperity if celebrated in their true essence.