Navratri or Navratra and some Popular Stories
Navaratri is the period of Pratipada of Ashwin Shukla Paksha to Navami. It is also called the Sharadiya Navratri. It is of more importance than the other three Navratri periods that are celebrated in the other astrological periods and seasons. In this year 2014, it is on 25th September that the Sharadiya Navratri will begin and will end on October 3rd.
The period is observed with a fast that is kept for a prolonged nine days throughout which the devotees keep themselves from any kind of luxury and indulgence. They offer different bhogs on each day to the different forms of Mother Goddess and also perform the puja. It begins with establishing the Kalash on the first day. With a lamp and the Shodashopchar as the main ingredients for the puja, the Goddess is worshipped.
Some Popular Beliefs about Navratra:
According to the scriptures, Mahishashur or the demon worshipped Lord Shiva to gain extraordinary powers. However, when he gained powers, he used the against the Gods and even Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar could not defeat him. And it was Mother Goddess Durga who freed all from this trouble by killing him.
Another School of Belief about Navratra:
Sumati, a daughter of a Brahman lived in a town with her father. He performed Havan daily to Goddess Durga and was a great devotee of her. Even his daughter also participated into this. But one day she forgot to perform Havan as she was playing. So the Brahman cursed her that he would marry her to a poor man and as said, he was married to a man with paralysis and leprosy. He even did not have a house of his own and that is why, Sumati had to sleep on the grass.
Disturbed and upset with her miserable condition, Mata Bhagwati was compelled to appear before her. As Sumati had done some good in her previous life, Mata Bhagwati proceeded to bless her with something. When Sumati asked what the matter was and why she was being so generous on hger, Mata Bhagwati replied that in the previous birth, she was a chaste wife of a Bhil tribesman.
Her husband had stolen something in the previous birth and that is why both of them were imprisoned to the jail by the police. They did not give both of them any food for nine days. Mata confirmed that the fast that everyone observes during these nine days is because of that incident in Sumati’s previous life.
When Mata wanted to bless her with a gift, Sumati asked that her husband is cured from the disease and so was blessed. Her husband soon was cured from the disease and became a healthy and cured man.
Navratri in Ramayan
Ramayan has an entirely different context and story associated with Navratri. It is believed that when Lord Shri Ram, Lakshman, Hanuman and all the Vanar Sena were about to attack on Lanka, they worshipped Mata Bhagwati from Pratipada of Ashwin Shukla Paksha to Navami for nine days and attacked Lanka on Dashami.