Navratri: 31 March - 08 April 2014
Navratri, the festival of nine nights is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her nine forms. According to the Hindu calendar, Navratri begins from the first day of the bright fortnight of Ashwin which usually coincides with the end of the rainy season. The nine days have great religious significance as Goddess Durga, the divine mother, had destroyed the evil force (in the form of the demon Mahisashura) during this period.
Navratri's each night is dedicated to one form of Goddess Durga. That is every ratri of the Navratri corresponds to worship of different forms of Maa Durga. This embraces -
Maa Shailputri, who was the daughter of Parvatraj Himalaya (King of the Mountain), wife of Lord Shiva and mother of Ganesha and Kartikeya; Maa Brahmachaarini-, who gives the message of pure love to the world; Maa Chandraghanta, who establishes Justice and wears crescent moon on Her head; Maa Kushmaanda, who provides the basic necessities to the world; Skand Maa, who gives the gift of differentiation of right from wrong to the world; Maa Kaatyayini, who persistently battles against the evil and deceitful entities; Maa Kaalratri, who killed Raktabeej ( a demon who produce a demon from every drop of blood that fell from his body. Goddess eventually licked the blood before it could reach the ground and hence conquered him); Maa Chaamunda, who killed two demons—Chanda and Munda and restored tranquility; Maa MahaGauri who also liberate the world of evil forces; Mata Sidhidaarti, who is a treasure house of Mystic Powers (Yantra Tantra) and Knowledge (Gyaan).
Some may also say that the nine days are divided and devoted to the Trinity of God worshipped in a female form in which for three days Maa Durga (Goddess of valor) is worshipped, for three days Maa Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth) and three days for Maa Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge and Art). On the fifth day, that is, Lalita Panchami books are gathered, lamp is lighted to invoke Saraswati. The eighth and ninth day, Yagna (sacrifice offered to the fire) is performed to honour heavenly Goddess and bid her farewell.