New Delhi: Chaitra Navratri is starting 6 April and will run until 14 April. Navratri comes four times a year.
Chaitra Navratri is, in north India, of more significance than the Sharadiya Navratri, which falls in September or October. According to Hindu belief, Chaitra and Sharadiya Navratri are considered important. Chaitra Navratri is also called Vasantik Navratri.
From 6 April for nine days, these nine forms of the divine mother will be worshipped: Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmandra, Skandmatata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Gauri and Siddhidatri.
Ram Navami will be celebrated on the last day of Chaitra Navratri on 14 April.
Belief associated with Navratri
Chaitra Navratri is the first Navratri in a year. This Navratri is considered to be the beginning of the Hindu New Year. According to the Ramayana, it is believed that Lord Rama worshipped Goddess Durga in Chaitra month and then defeated and killed Ravana.
In the Ramayana, Rama goes to Lanka to rescue his abducted wife, Sita, from the grip of Ravana, the king of the demons in Lanka. Before starting for his battle with Ravana, Rama wanted the blessings of Durga. He came to know that the goddess would be pleased only if she was worshipped with 108 blue lotuses.
After travelling the whole world, Rama could gather only 107 of them. He finally decided to offer one of his eyes, which resembled blue lotuses.
Durga, pleased with the devotion of Rama, appeared before him and blessed him. The battle started on the Saptami and Ravana was finally killed on the sandhikshan, the crossover period between Ashtami (the next day) and Navami (a day later). Ravana was killed on the tenth day, Dashami.
Since the period of this worship was different from the conventional period, this puja is also known as Akal Bodhan: the worship or invocation (bodhan) in an unconventional time (akaal).
Geographical difference in belief
Chaitra Navratri is very popular in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. In the States of Maharashtra, Gudi Padwa starts from this day, whereas in southern states like Andhra Pradesh, Ugadi starts from the festival this day.
The incident of the Ramayana, however, is believed to have occurred in the autumn season in eastern India comprising Bengal, Odisha and the Northeast. This is why the Navratri that Bengalis, Odiyas, Assamese, etc relate to more is the autumnal occasion.