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Navaratri: 9 Nights of Valour, Compassion and Purification

Navaratri, meaning "nine nights" in Sanskrit, is a Hindu festival dedicated to the worship of the goddess Durga and her various forms. During Navaratri, nine different forms of the goddess, known as Navadurga or Nava Durgas, are worshipped on each day of the festival. It is celbrated four times a year, each with its own significance and rituals. These four Navaratris are:

Chaitra Navaratri: Also known as Vasant Navaratri, this Navaratri falls in the Hindu month of Chaitra (March-April) and is celebrated during the spring season. It culminates with Ram Navami, the birthday of Lord Rama, on the ninth day. During Chaitra Navaratri, devotees worship the nine forms of Goddess Durga.

Ashadha Navaratri: This Navaratri falls in the Hindu month of Ashadha (June-July) and is less commonly celebrated compared to the other Navaratris. It is also known as Gupta Navaratri. During this period, some devotees observe fasts and perform prayers to seek the blessings of the divine.

Sharad Navaratri: Sharad Navaratri, the most popular and widely celebrated Navaratri, falls in the Hindu month of Ashwin (September-October) during the Sharad (autumn) season. It culminates with Dussehra or Vijayadashami, which marks the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana. During Sharad Navaratri, devotees across India worship Goddess Durga and observe fasts, perform rituals, and participate in cultural activities such as garba and dandiya.

Magha Navaratri: Magha Navaratri falls in the Hindu month of Magha (January-February) and is also known as Maha Navaratri. It is considered highly auspicious and is particularly significant in some regions of North India. The last day of Magha Navaratri is celebrated as Magha Purnima, which holds religious importance. During this Navaratri, devotees worship Goddess Durga and seek her blessings for prosperity and spiritual growth.

Nava Durgas worshipped on the nine nights include:

प्रथमं शैलपुत्रीति द्वितीयं ब्रह्मचारिणी ।

तृतीयं चन्द्रघण्टेति कूष्माण्डेति चतुर्थकम् ।

पञ्चमं स्कन्दमातेति षष्ठं कात्यायनीति च ।

सप्तमं कालरात्रीति महागौरीति चाष्टमम् |

नवमं सिद्धिदात्री च नवदुर्गाः प्रकीर्तिताः ।

prathamaṁ śailaputrīti dvitīyaṁ brahmacāriṇī |

tr̥tīyaṁ candraghaṇṭēti kūṣmāṇḍēti caturthakam |

pañcamaṁ skandamātēti ṣaṣṭhaṁ kātyāyanīti ca |

saptamaṁ kālarātrīti mahāgaurīti cāṣṭamam |

navamaṁ siddhidātrī ca navadurgāḥ prakīrtitāḥ |

Shailaputri: She is the first form of Durga, also known as Parvati or Hemavati, and is worshipped on the first day of Navaratri. Shailaputri is depicted riding a bull and holding a trident in one hand and a lotus in the other. She represents the embodiment of the power of the Himalayas, hence the name Shailaputri, which means 'daughter of the mountains'.

Brahmacharini: On the second day of Navaratri, Brahmacharini, the ascetic form of Durga, is worshipped. She symbolizes penance, austerity, and devotion. Brahmacharini is depicted as walking barefoot, holding a rudraksha mala (rosary) and a kamandalu (water pot) in her hands.

Chandraghanta: This form of Durga is worshipped on the third day of Navaratri. Chandraghanta is depicted with a crescent moon adorning her forehead, which resembles a bell (ghanta), hence her name. She is depicted riding a tiger and is often depicted with ten hands, each carrying weapons.

Kushmanda: On the fourth day of Navaratri, Kushmanda, the creator of the universe, is worshipped. She is depicted as having eight arms and seated on a lion. Kushmanda is believed to have created the universe with her divine smile, hence her name, which means 'the cosmic egg'.

Skandamata: Skandamata, the mother of Skanda (Kartikeya), is worshipped on the fifth day of Navaratri. She is depicted with four arms, holding her son Skanda in one hand and a lotus in another. Skandamata is often depicted riding a lion.

Katyayani: On the sixth day of Navaratri, Katyayani, the warrior form of Durga, is worshipped. She is believed to have manifested to destroy the demon Mahishasura. Katyayani is depicted with four arms, holding a sword and a lotus in two of her hands.

Kaalratri: This form of Durga is worshipped on the seventh day of Navaratri. Kaalratri is depicted with a dark complexion, disheveled hair, and a fierce expression. She is believed to be the destroyer of darkness and ignorance.

Mahagauri: On the eighth day of Navaratri, Mahagauri, the eighth form of Durga, is worshipped. She is depicted as having a fair complexion and dressed in white garments. Mahagauri symbolizes purity, peace, and compassion.

Siddhidatri: Siddhidatri is worshipped on the ninth and final day of Navaratri. She is believed to bestow knowledge and supernatural powers upon her devotees. Siddhidatri is depicted with four arms and is often shown seated on a lotus.

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