Navarathri | Navaratri 2021 | Significance of Navratri | Why is Navratri celebrated | Description, History, and story

Navaratri 2021 | Significance of Navratri | Why is Navratri celebrated | Description, History, and story behind Navarathri.

Navarathri is a very important Hindu festival celebrated with great zeal in North India including Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and the northern state of Punjab, as well as in South India in the States of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.

In North India, it is known as “Dussehra”, celebrating the victory of Goddess Durga over demons Madhu-Kaitabha, Chanda-Munda, and Shumbha-Nishumbha and the victory of Lord Rama against Ravana.

In the South Indian States like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, Navarathri is celebrated with elaborate rituals and procedure devoting the nine nights to Goddesses Lakshmi, Durga, and Saraswathi.

The first three days are devoted to Goddess Durga, the next three days to Goddess Lakshmi, and the last three days to Goddess Saraswathi.  In Mysore, the Navarathri festival is celebrated on a grand scale with pomp and splendor.

Reasons for celebrating Navarathri: 

It is akin to invoking celestial beings into our homes to celebrate and reiterates that good wins over bad.

The important junctions of climatic and solar influences are the two auspicious periods that are considered to be sacred for the worship of Goddess Durga. The two periods denote the beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn.

It is believed that Goddess Durga descended to earth on the New Moon Day.  Hence Golu (arranging the dolls on steps) is set up on the New Moon day in the Tamil month Purattasi.

There are four types of Navarathri:

They are Sharada Navarathri, Chaitra Navarathri, Magha Navarathri, and Ashada Navarathri.

Sharada Navarathri falls during the months of September – October, which is the most significant among the four types of Navarathri, celebrated all across India, and all the nine days are dedicated to the nine forms of Durga.

Sharada Navarathri marks the beginning of winter, celebrating the victory of Durga over Mahishasura and also the victory of Lord Rama in His battle against Ravana. It is said that Rama killed Ravana during this period.

It is believed that Gods go to their celestial sleep during this period.  So Lord Rama awakened Goddess Durga in the Sashti Thithi.  Hindus in the States of Orrisa, Assam, and Tripura celebrate the festival as Durga pooja for five days.

In South India, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh celebrate the festival by arranging dolls and idols on steps like structure known as Golu for nine days. Kerala celebrates the last three days as Saraswathi pooja wherein books are worshipped.

The nine steps represent nine forms of devotion.

The nine forms of devotion are:

1. Shravanam: It is hearing the names and glories of the Lord.

2. Keertanam: This means chanting His glories.

3. Smaranam: Remembering the Lord.

4. Paada sevanam: Serving the Lord’s feet.

5. Archanam: Worshiping the Lord.

6. Vandanam:  Offering obeisance unto the Lord.

7. Daasyam: Serving the Lord as His servant.

8. Sakhyam: Developing friendship with the Lord.

9. Aatma Nivedanam:  Total surrender of oneself to the Lord.

The nine days are dedicated to Goddess Durga and the battle that took place between Durga and demon Mahishasura. For the year 2020, Navarathri begins on  17th October 2020. Saraswathi Pooja is celebrated on 25th October 2020.

Navarathri Celebration in Tamil Nadu: People in Tamil Nadu arrange the dolls on steps like structure. The reasons behind arranging the steps according to Tamil Nadu tradition and culture are as follows:

The first five steps denote the living creatures ranging from insects, birds, animals, and the sixth step represents the human beings who have a sixth sense, the seventh step denotes saints, and the eighth step is for Avatars of Gods and the ninth step denotes the supreme God. 

Navarathri Golu indicates the goal of human beings and the reason why we are born in this world. To reach God, one has to take so many births and cross different stages step by step, some reach higher steps being born either as humans or saints according to their good deeds and thoughts, while some are pushed to the lower steps due to their bad deeds and are born as birds, animals, and insects. 

This is the philosophy for the arrangement of various dolls on nine steps. It is important to arrange the steps at an auspicious time by first placing  Lord Ganesha's idol and then placing the Kalasam with Amman face with a cup of raw rice and raw toor dal in the Kalasam.

On the first day of Navarathri, Devi is worshipped as Mageshwari Bala, as She killed the demon Madhu-Kaitabha. 

On the second day of Navarathri, She is worshipped as Gaumari, who is also known as Rajarajeswari. 

The third day of Navarathri is dedicated to the worship of Goddess Varahi, Kanya Kalyani.

On the fourth day of Navarathri, She is worshipped as Goddess Mahalakshmi, who is known as Goddess Rohini.

On the fifth day of Navarathri, Goddess Vaishnavi is worshipped, who is known as Mohini.

On the sixth day of Navarathri, Goddess Indrani seated on (Sarpa Raja Aasanam) is worshipped. Note: Sarpa Raja Asanam means Serpent Rising as The Royal Seat of Goddess Indrani.

The seventh day of Navarathri is dedicated to worship Maha Saraswathy, also known as Sumangali.

The eighth day of Navarathri is dedicated to worship Narasimha, reflecting a calm downstate from anger.

On the ninth day of Navarathri, She is worshipped as Maatha Chamundi, known as Lalitha Parameshwari holding an arrow and an elephant goad in Her hand.

The victory of Goddess Shakthi is celebrated as Vijayadasami on the tenth day of Navarathri.
In North India, Maharashtra, Bihar, and other states, Hindus light lamps in their houses for nine days symbolizing knowledge and prosperity, and mainly perform the auspicious Kalasha pooja, worshipping Goddess Durga.

In Gujarat, the festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm by singing and dancing. Gujarat is famous for its traditional dance known as Garba and Dandiya.

Chaitra Navarathri is the second famous Navarathri representing the transition from spring to summer that falls during March and April. It is also known as Vasant Navarathri or Rama Navarathri, as the birthday of Lord Rama (Rama Navami) falls on the ninth day of Chaitra Navarathri.

In Maharashtra, Chaitra Navarathri begins with Gudi Padwa, while in Andhra Pradesh and in Karnataka it begins with Ugadi. The nine forms of Durga are worshipped on all nine days.

Magha Navarathri is known as Vasant Panchami that falls in the winter season during January and February. It is known as Gupt which means secretive.  Goddess Shakthi is worshipped by following secret tantric rituals for nine days to seek Her blessings.  It is celebrated in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Hariyana, Uttarkhand, and Uttarpradesh.

Ashada Navarathri falls in the month of June and July. It is known as Gupt, as it is believed to have started by the Gupta Empire in the medieval period. The word Gupt means secretive, as secret tantric worship is followed to invoke the blessings of Varahi Devi, (boar faced incarnation of the Goddess, who is the consort of Varaha (Vishnu’s boar faced incarnation).

Ashada Navarathri is the auspicious time to invoke the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi for wealth, wisdom, and protection. As Goddess Varahi is another form of Lakshmi, an embodiment of valor, victory, and courage to remove obstacles and grant material wealth and success. It is prominently celebrated in the Southern states of India.

Creation of Goddess Durga’s Physical Form:

Goddess Durga was created as a Supreme Goddess, a powerful female form with ten hands by Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, to combat the demon Mahishasura.   Durga emerged from the waters of the holy Ganga as a spirit, and Her physical form was created with a combination of the powers of all the other Gods. Her face was created by Lord Shiva. Her torso crafted by Indra. Her breasts were made by Chandra and Her teeth by Brahma. The lower part of Her body was made by Bhudevi. Varuna sculpted Her thighs and knees, and Agni created the Goddess’s eyes.

Reasons for the Creation Of Goddess Durga:

Goddess Durga was born, as the Great Mother of the Universe, to ensure the creation, preservation, and destruction of evil forces in the universe. Gods gifted Her their individual blessings and weapons. Riding on a lion-like armed warrior, Goddess Durga fought a fierce battle against Mahishasura. Goddess Durga finally slew the demon king with Her trident. After restoring peace to the three worlds, heaven and earth rejoiced at Her victory.

Meaning of the word Durga:

The word ‘Durga’ in Sanskrit means a fort or a protected place. Another name for Durga is Durgatinashini which means ‘the one who eliminates sufferings and thereby protecting Her devotees and removes evil from the world.

Incarnation Of Goddess Durga:

Durga is the incarnation as the all-powerful one, with the combined powers of all the divine beings namely Kali, Bhagavathi, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalitha, Gauri, Kundalini, Jwala, Meenakshi, and Kamakshi.

The Ten Arms Of Goddess Durga Depict:

Durga is depicted as having ten arms, representing the ten directions, protecting Her devotees in all directions. To fight against evil beings such as Mahishasura, She wields different weapons in each hand gifted to Her by various Gods. 

In one hand She holds the conch-shell gifted to her by Varuna, God of the Sea. In two other hands, She holds the bow and the arrow given to Her by Vayu, the Wind God. 

In another hand, She holds the thunderbolt of Indra, which can destroy anything it strikes without being affected. In another hand She holds the lotus, symbolizing spirituality and firmness. 

In another hand, She holds the Sudarshan Chakra, the Discus of Vishnu, which can destroy evil forces. In Her other hands, She carries a long sword, and Brahma’s kamandalam or a pot to carry holy water. In Her forearms, she carries Shiva’s all-powerful trident with which She killed Mahishasura.

Three Eyes Of Goddess Durga Represent:

Goddess Durga is a three-eyed Goddess, referred to as Triyambake, the left eye represents desire and has the peace and calmness of the Moon; the right eye represents action and holds the power of the Sun, and the central eye or the eye of providence (divine eye) has the ability to burn with its power of fire.

Vahana or Vehicle Of Goddess Durga:

The undisputed ruler of the jungle, (the lion or the lioness) is one of the most impressive Vahanas or Vehicles of the unrivaled power Mother Goddess. Durga stands on Her lion in a fearless pose called the Abhaya Mudra or gesture of no fear.

Nine forms of Durga worshipped:

On the first day of Navarathri, Goddess Shailaputri is worshipped as a manifestation of Goddess Durga. She rides on a bull called Nandi, holding Trishul in one hand and a lotus in the other hand.  Pure Ghee is offered to Goddess Shailaputri for good health.

On the second day of Navarathri, Goddess Brahmacharini is worshipped. She holds a Rudraksha in one hand and a sacred Kamandalam on the other hand. Sugar is offered to Goddess Brahmacharini for the longevity and wellbeing of the members of the family.

On the third day of Navarathri, Goddess Chandraghanta is worshipped to destroy the wicked and evil.  She rides on a tiger and is a ferocious Goddess with ten arms with a crescent moon on Her forehead.  She is known to drive away all the pains. Kheer is offered as an offering to please Goddess Chandraghanta.

Goddess Khushmanda is worshipped on the fourth day of Navarathri. To improve the decision-making ability, Malpua is offered to Goddess Khushmanda. Note: Malpua is a pancake prepared with refined flour and milk. It is deep-fried in ghee and dunked in sugar syrup and garnished with nuts. It is served as a dessert at functions or festivals and is popular in India and Nepal.

The fifth day of Navarathri is dedicated to Goddess Skandamata, who has four arms, with a lotus in two of Her arms with a sacred Kamandalam and a bell in the other two hands. She is seated on a lotus with Her son, little Kartikeya on Her lap. Banana is Her favorite offering.

Goddess Katyayani is worshipped on the fifth day of Navarathri. She is the warrior Goddess with four arms and carries a sword, riding on a lion, and considered to be one of the violent forms of Goddess Parvathi.  Honey is offered to this Goddess.

The seventh day of Navarathri is dedicated to Goddess Kaalratri, who has a dark complexion and has four arms, who carries a sword, a Trident, and a noose. She rides on a donkey and Her third eye on Her forehead contains the whole world. Jaggery is offered to this Goddess for removing obstacles and to grant happiness.

On the eighth day of Navarathri, Goddess Maha Gauri is worshipped. She has four arms, with a Trishul and a Damru in Her hands, and rides on a bull or a white elephant. Coconut is offered to this Goddess. (Note: Damru is a small two-headed drum, an instrument of Lord Shiva as well as Goddess Shakthi.)

On the ninth day or the final day, Goddess Siddharthi is worshipped.  She holds a Mace, Discus, and a book in Her arms. She is a four-armed Deity seated on a lotus who signifies perfection. Sesame Seeds are offered to Goddess Siddharthi for protection and security from unnatural events.


The story, instructions, and procedures behind the Navrathri mentioned in this post are completely based on our family tradition. This is how we perform our Pooja and the main reason for this post is to keep an online record for myself and for our future generations. I also would like to share the same with our family members and friends for reference. I'm sure this post would be useful if you are performing the Navrathri every year. You may share this post with anyone. Thank you for understanding!!!

Authors: Revathi and Pavithra

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