Last Updated: September 17, 2018

Definition - What does Navratri mean?

Navratri is a nine-night celebration of Durga, the Hindu mother goddess. It begins on the first new moon in early autumn – usually late September or early October in the month of Ashwin. There are also four other Navratri celebrations throughout the year. The ceremonies include colorful clothing, dancing, fasting and rituals.

In yogic tradition, the holiday is a time for spiritual practices, meditation and discipline, honoring the Divine.

Navratri comes from the Sanskrit nava, meaning "nine" and ratri, meaning "nights." The festival is also called Sharada Navratri or Maha Navratri, meaning "great Navratri."

Yogapedia explains Navratri

Durga represents shakti, or female divine energy and purity. It is believed that Durga fought a nine-day battle against the demon, Mahishasura, at the end of which she was victorious, symbolizing good over evil. During Navratri, the goddess Durga is honored in her nine forms and each form has a particular mantra for meditation

Although there are five festivals with the name Navratri, the fall celebration of Sharada Navratri is the largest and is, therefore, known simply as Navratri. The others are:

  • Vasanta Navratri (March - April)
  • Ashad Navratri, also called Gupta Navratri (June - July)
  • Paush Navratri (December - January)
  • Magha Navratri (January - February)
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