Navratri is a long-standing tradition for Hindus and has a great deal of religious value. Navratri is also one of the biggest Hindu festivals celebrated across India with great fervor. But not many people know that it is celebrated five times a year and in different seasons. The five festivals are Chaitra Navratri, Ashadha Navratri, Sharada Navratri, and Paush/Magha Navratri. Among these, Sharada Navratri that occurs in the Varsha ritu (onset of autumn) and Chaitra Navratri that occurs in the Vasanta ritu (spring season) are very important.
Chaitra Navratri is also called as Vasanta Navratri. It is usually observed in the months of March or April and also marks the first day of the Hindu calendar. It is a nine-day festival, and it is celebrated grandly in Northern India. This Navratri is observed during the Shukla Paksha of Chaitra month, which is between March and April. In Maharashtra, the first day of this Navratri is celebrated as Gudi Padwa. In Kashmir, it is called Navreh. This festival is grandly celebrated in Northern and Western India. It makes the colorful spring season even more riveting.
During Vasant Navaratri, devotees fast and worship nine forms of Goddess Durga –Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Mahagauri, and Siddhidhatri. Some people total fast, where they refrain from drinking even water. Some observe the ‘phallar’ fast, consuming only fresh fruits, milk, and water. During the nine days, onion and garlic are not added to any food.
Rama Navami, the birthday of Rama, generally occurs on the ninth day of Chaitra Navaratri, and hence the festival is also known as Ram Navaratri.
According to Hindu mythology, Shiva allowed his consort, Goddess Parvati, to visit her parents’ home for nine days. It was also during these nine days that the Goddess killed the demon king Mahishasura, thereby signifying the victory of good over evil.
Hindus believe that Goddess Durga makes them strong and bestows good health and wealth on them. Both Chaitra Navaratri and Sharad Navratri (celebrated around September-October) are celebrated when the seasons change. At this time, people are more susceptible to illness, so they try to eat light.
Chaitra Navratri 2021 is also called Vasant Navaratri 2021, begins on 13 April, a Tuesday, and ends on 22 April.