New Delhi: Devotees in India are celebrating Chaitra Navratri from March 18 to 26. Navratri is a Hindu festival dedicated to the worship of Goddess Durga and her nine avatars for a period of nine days. There are four Navratris in a year, out of which two are celebrated widely. One is Sharad Navratri, or Maha Navratri, which coincides with the popular Durga Puja and concludes with Dussehra and is celebrated around September-October. The other is Chaitra Navratri, which is celebrated in the Hindu month of Chaitra, which falls around March-April.
While the tenth day of Sharad Navratri, celebrated as Dussehra, marks the victory of Lord Ram over Ravan, the ninth day of Chaitra Navratri is celebrated as Lord Ram's birthday and is also called Ram Navami. Hence, Chaitra Navratri is also known as Ram Navratri. Chaitra Navratri also marks the change of season from spring to summer.
Over the course of Navratri, people perform different pujas and havans to welcome Goddess Durga into their homes. Devotees are also known to fast during this period which is said to bring peace, prosperity and happiness in one's life and success in their endeavours.
Each day of Navratri celebrates a different avatar of Goddess Durga. The first day celebrates the incarnation known as Shailaputri, the second as Brahmcharini and the third as Chandraghanta. The fourth day celebrates her incarnation Kushminda while the fifth and sixth days celebrate Skandmata and Katyayani. The seventh, eighth and ninth days celebrate Kalratri, Mahagauri and Sidhidatri.
Apart from the Maha Navratri and Ram Navratri, the two other Navratris celebrated by Hindus are Gupt Navratri and Magh Navratri.