Navratri, as the name suggests, meaning nine auspicious nights, is a Hindu festival celebrated twice in a year. It is performed across the nation with great fervor and devotion, once in the month of March-April as Chaitra or Vasant Navratri and the second time in the month of September-October as Sharad Navratri. The ninth day of Chaitra Navratri is celebrated as Ram Navami while after the Sharad Navratri the very next is celebrated as Vijaya Dashmi or Dussehra. Where Ram Navami marks the birth date of Lord Rama, Dussehra marks the killing of the demon king Ravana thereby symbolizing the victory of good over evil. However, Sharad Navratri is the most auspicious and famous out of the two.
The dates for the Navaratri festival in the year 2016 are as follows:
Chaitra Navratri- April 8th, 2016 to April 16th, 2016
Sharad Navratri- October 1st, 2016 to October 10th 2016
During both the Navratris of the year, the nine different forms of Goddess Maa Durga namely Shailputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skanda Mata, Katyayini, Kalratri, Maha Gauri and Sidhidatri are worshipped by the devotees with complete devotion and faith. The incarnations of the Goddess are worshipped for nine continuous days thereafter which Maa Durga blesses her followers with whatever they wish fro- health, wealth, prosperity, peace and so on. The belief goes that people who do fasting during these nine days, chant mantras and worship Maa Bhagwati with complete devotion and dedication are blessed by her with whatever they wish to be blessed with. During Navratri nights, devotees even keep Jagratas where they sing, dance and chant bhajans in the praise of the Goddess.
Sharad Navratri 2016 Dates, Days and Goddess Information
Navratri Day 1 - October 1, 2016 (Saturday) - Pratipada, Ghatsthapana, Shailputri Puja
Day 2 - October 2, 2016 (Sunday) - Pratipada, Chandra Darshan, Shailputri Puja
Day 3 (Dwitiya) - October 3, 2016 (Monday) - Brahmacharini Puja
Day 4 (Tritiya) - October 4, 2016 (Tuesday) - Chandraghanta Puja
Day 5 (Chaturthi) - October 5, 2016 (Wednesday) - Kushmanda puja
Day 6 (Panchami) - October 6, 2016 (Thursday) - Skandamata Puja
Day 7 (Shashthi) - October 7, 2016 (Friday) - Katyayani Puja
Day 8 (Saptami) - October 8, 2016 (Saturday) - Kalaratri Puja
Day 9 (Mahashtmi) - October 9, 2016 (Sunday) - Mahagauri Puja, Durga Maha Ashtami Puja, Saraswati Puja
Day 10 (Navami) - October 10, 2016 (Monday) - Siddhidatri Pooja, Maha Navami, Ayudha Puja, Navami Homa
Day 11 (Dashami or Dussehra) - October 11, 2016 (Tuesday) - Navratri Parana, Durga Visarjan, Vijyadashmi (Dussehra)
However every Indian state follows different rules and style for worshipping Goddess Durga during these nine days of Navratri, the enthusiasm for devotion being the same. Every state assigns the goddess with a different name. For example, in Gujarat she is called Jagdamba while in West Bengal the festival is named Durga Puja. In Kolkata various huge pandals are set up all across the city and great idols of the deity are displayed for worship and public view. In Gujarat, the celebration takes different turn as people perform Dandiya and Garbha, the two famous dance forms, during this festival for nine nights. The enthusiasm, charm and excitement, however, is the same for every age group across every nok and corner of the country during these nine days of Navratri.