Many are familiar with Sharad Navratri which occurs in September/October time, and perhaps also with Chaitra Navratri that occurs around March. But Navratri occurs four times in a year, during the different seasons, and each is named after the Vedic month that it occurs in – ‘Chaitra’ in spring, ‘Ashadha’ in monsoon/summer, ‘Sharad’ in autumn and ‘Magha’ in winter.
Navratri is the festival of nine nights, each of which is associated with one of the nine forms of the warrior Goddess, Durga. Durga is the fierce alter ego of Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva, the all-pervading divine consciousness.
The Sanskrit meaning for Durga is a place that is protected and cannot be reached by evil forces. The word Durga also means invincible, unbeatable and undefeated. She is considered to be the combined forms of three Goddesses, Saraswati (Goddess of Learning and Music), Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth), and the fearsome Goddess, Kali.
Let’s take a look at each of the four Navratris and mark them in your calendar as fantastic periods to cleanse yourself and invoke the power of the Goddess within you!
Magha Navratri, 22 - 30 Jan 2023
Magha Navratri is one of the least known Navratris and is mainly celebrated in North Indian states, it is also sometimes known as Gupta Navratri, and falls in the Vedic month of Magh during January or February. The word ‘Gupt’ means ‘secret’, suggesting the lesser known nature of this Navratri.
As per the other Navratri festivals in the year, during Magha Navratri the nine forms of the Divine Mother are honored. Many choose to fast during all nine days, or simply on the ninth day, to gain blessings and help them overcome obstacles in their material life. Goddess Durga is said to have the power to alleviate distress, so honoring her during Magha Navratri through Pujas (rituals), mantra chanting and fasting helps to bring wellbeing and prosperity into one’s life.
Chaitra Navratri, 22 - 30 March 2023
“Chaitra means the beginning of a New Year. So the New Year begins with nine days of turning inwards; prayer, meditation, and chanting. Recognizing the Divinity in the whole creation, and enlivening that aspect.” – Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Chaitra Navratri celebrates the triumph of good over evil, commemorating the day Durga destroyed the evil buffalo demon, Mahisasur, which represents tamo-guna, the dark quality of inertia, ignorance, and laziness. It is said that she took nine different forms to battle the demon and it took nine days of fighting to reign victorious on the tenth. Nine happens to be a divine number that represents the power of shakti or cosmic energy.
The last day of Chaitra Navratri is celebrated as Ram Navami, the birth anniversary of Lord Rama.
Ashadha Navratri, 19 - 28 June 2023
Ashadha Navratri, also known as Gupta Navratri, is the nine day period dedicated to the divine mother which falls in the month of Ashadha, during June or July.
People often observe a fast during the nine days and maintain a disciplined lifestyle. Since in India Asadha Navratri marks the beginning of the monsoon season, it is also believed that the practices they do during this time can help them adapt to the changing of the seasons and reduce the risk of illness or infection.
Sharad Navratri, 15 - 24 October 2023
Sharad Navratri is the most important Navratri festival and occurs during the month of Ashwin, in September or October. The name Sharad Navratri comes from the Sanskrit name for the autumn season, ‘Sharad Ritu’. Because of its significance it is also called Maha (‘great’) Navratri.
During Maha Navratri, the nine forms of the Goddess are honored through special homas (fire rituals) and pujas (offering rituals), and people fast and meditate.
The tenth day is celebrated as Vijayadashami, which is also the day that Rama, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, the Preserver, won the battle against Ravana and recovered his wife, Sita.
It is said that honoring the Goddess with love and devotion during the 9 days of Navratri is one of the best remedies for all the 9 planets, as each form is associated with a particular planet.
From Peacekeeper to Warrior - The Nine Forms of Goddess Durga
Durga's first form - Goddess Shailaputri
Celebrated on the 1st day of the festival, Shailaputri was said to be born of a mountain King, Himalaya, and she symbolizes the ultimate mother nature archetype, with a connection to the Sun.
Durga's second form - Goddess Brahmacharini
Celebrated on the 2nd day of Navratri, Goddess Brahmacharini is said to have spent 1000 years on a diet of flowers and fruits and then another 100 years eating only leafy greens – all to win the favor of Lord Shiva. She is associated with the planet Jupiter.
Durga's third form - Goddess Chandraghanta
Celebrated on the 3rd day of Navratri, Goddess Chandraghanta bestows grace and bravery to eradicate physical suffering and mental turmoil. She is connected with the planet Rahu.
Durga's fourth form - Goddess Kushmanda
Celebrated on the 4th day of Navratri, Kushmanda is said to have created the whole universe with a smile, and is connected with the planet Venus.
Durga's fifth form - Goddess Skandamata
Connected with the planet Mars, SkandaMata (“mother of Skanda”) refers to her war god son, Kartikeya or Skanda, who is usually depicted on her lap and is very much intertwined with her energetically.
Durga's sixth form - Goddess Katyayani
Katyayani is associated with the 6th chakra or third eye and it is said that you can connect with her through this energetic point between the eyebrows to draw on her fierce spirit of peacekeeping. She is connected with the planet Mercury.
Durga's seventh form - Goddess Kalaratri
Goddess Kalaratri, celebrated on the 7th day of Navratri, is the fiercest form of Durga and one who rules the night. She has the power of courage and auspiciousness to destroy negative energies and entities. Kalaratri is associated with the crown chakra, so she bestows knowledge, power and wealth. She is associated with the planet Saturn.
Durga's eighth form - Goddess Mahagauri
Celebrated on the 8th day of Navratri, Mahagauri is said to fulfill the desires of those who show devotion, to relieve their suffering and to reward earnest spiritual seekers with liberation from the fear of rebirth. She is connected with the Moon.
Durga's ninth form - Goddess Siddhidhatri
Goddess Siddhidhatri is said to have originated as the first light of the world, who entrusted the supreme creative trinity – Lord Shiva (The Dissolver), Lord Vishnu (The Preserver) and Lord Brahma (The Creator) with their divine responsibilities. She is associated with the lunar node, Ketu.