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Navratri 2018 Date - The Nine-Day Festival of Mother Goddess Durga in October 2018 - Importance of Sharad Navratri

Navratri (September - October) is the nine-day Hindu festival dedicated to Mother Goddess Durga and her numerous forms in Hindu religion. Sharad Navratri 2018 dates are from October 10 to October 18, 2018, in India as per Hindu Calendar. (March - April) Chaitra Navratri 2019 is from April 6 to April 14, 2019. The festival is of great importance as it is the most significant festival dedicated to Mother Goddess in Hinduism. The nine-day festival in Hinduism celebrates the victory of good over evil - Dharma overcomes Adharma with the blessing of Goddess Durga. The most important nine-day festival is Sharad Navratras which begins on the first day of the bright half of Ashwin or Ashwayuja (September-October) as per traditional Hindu lunar calendar.

2018 Navratri September - October dates

Day 1 – October 10 – Ghatsthapana - Navratri Begins – Chandra Darshan
Day 2 – October 10 
Day 3 – October 11 – Sindoor Tritiya
Day 4 – October 12 
Day 5 – October 13 – Upang Lalita Vrat - Lalitha Panchami
Day 5 – October 14
Day 6 – October 15
Day 7 – October 16 – Saraswati Awahan - Maha Lakshmi Puja (western parts of India)
Day 8 – October 17 – Mahashtami - Annapoorna Parikrama – Saraswathi Puja (western parts of India)
Day 8 – October 17 - Mahanavami  Mahanavami fasting Saraswati Visarjan  or Saraswathi Balidan
Day 9 – October 18

The tenth day is celebrated as Dasara or Vijaya Dashami. (October 19, 2018)

The nine days are famous for Bathukamma in Telangana.

Vidyarambham in Kerala is on October 19, 2018.

  • Significance of Navratri

Mother Goddess Shakti who appears in various forms to save and protect her children are worshipped on the nine days. There is no end to her forms. Whenever her children are in difficulty she takes a form to annihilate the evil and protect her children like a caring mother. She is the all providing mother who nourishes and feeds her children. Life on earth exists due to her blessing.

Symbolically the first three days of Navratri are an opportunity to overcome inertia (Tamas), the next three days are dedicated to overcoming passion (Rajas) and the next three days are for keeping the mind eternally focused on purity (Sattva).

The nine days are an opportunity to reboot. Make positive changes to life with blessings of Maa Durga.

  • Traditional Puja

House should be cleaned properly.
The person performing puja should take bath early in the morning.
Sankalp or decision should be made to have a peaceful nine days.
No alcohol, smoking, paan, and sexual intercourse during the nine days.
The first puja is performed to Ganesha.
Next puja should be offered to Matrika, Lokpal, Navgraha, and Varuna.

Mother Goddess is offered the usual sixteen step puja (Shodashopachara Puja)
Puja should be offered to Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati, and Mahakali.
Chant a Mother Goddess Mantra daily.

You can find more about the puja and how to observed here - How to do Navratri Puja?

  • Begins with Ghatasthapana

Wheat or Jowar is sowed in a clay flat pot on the first day of Navratri. Water is sprinkled and it is covered with Mango leaves. The first shoots will appear on the third day. It then grows quickly symbolically representing fertility, hope, and progress. It is also a sign of good health and wealth.

In South and Eastern parts of India this ritual is skipped.

  • Nine Goddess Worshipped

Navdurga or nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped on the nine days of Navratri. The nine forms are Shailputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri and Siddhiratri.

  • Scripture Read During Navratri

Durga Saptasati is the scripture read during the nine days of Navratri. There are 700 shlokas and it was composed by Lord Brahma, Rishi Vasishta and Rish Vishwamitra. Spatasati indicates the 700 shlokas.

  • Vrat/Fasting

You can perform Vrat on all nine days by consuming water and fruits.
Vegetarian food should only be consumed during the nine days.
Majority people observe fast only on the seventh (seventh) or eighth (Ashtami) or ninth day (Navami). (Navratri Fasting Rules and how to observed the vrat can be read here in detail)

  • Kanya Pujan

On eight or ninth day of the festival, people perform Kanya Pujan. Young girls less than the age of nine is invited and given food and clothes.

  • Navratri Mantra

You can chant any mantra dedicated to Mother Goddess. Here are three mantras chanting of which are considered highly helpful and meritorious.

  1. सर्वमङ्गलमाङ्गल्ये शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके  
    शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरि नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते
  2. शङ्खचक्रगदाशङ्र्गगृहीत परमायुधे।
    प्रसीद वैष्णवीरूपे नारायणि नमोऽस्तुते।।
  3. देवि प्रपन्नाॢतहरे प्रसीद  प्रसीद मातर्जगतोऽखिलस्य।
    प्रसीद विश्वेश्वरि पाहि विश्वं त्वमीश्वरी देवि चराचरस्य।।

In South India

  • In South India, Goddess Durga is worshipped during the first three days.
  • Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped during the next three days
  • Goddess Saraswathi is worshipped during the last three days. Ayudha puja including keeping of books, musical instruments and other educational materials on Ashtami. The materials are not touched on Ashtami and Navami.
  • A kalash symbolizing the Goddesses is prepared and worshipped during the Navratri period.
  • People avoid non-vegetarian food during the period and some people also perform Navratri fasting on certain days. A partial fast is also observed during the period.
  • Musical concerts and Navratri Gollu dolls are highlights of the festival.
  • Vijayadasami is observed as Vidyarambham in Kerala.

Durga Puja in Eastern Parts of India

In eastern parts of India mainly in Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand, Assam, Tripura and other states, Navratri is famous as Durga Puja. The main rituals are observed on Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dasami day. (You read more about the Durga Puja here - A guide to Durga Puja)

Dashain in Nepal

The nine-day Navratri is popularly known as Dashain in Nepal. The myth behind the celebration and the period are the same as Navratri but the method of celebration differs.

The festival begins with Ghatasthapana. As the name indicates, a pot or kalash with an image of Goddess Durga is installed in the house on the day. The pot or kalash is filled with water and is covered with cow dung and seeds are sown on the dung. The pot is kept on a sand bed and seeds are sown on this too. 

Special pujas are conducted on the pot and water is sprinkled daily. The room where kalash is kept is known as Dashain Ghar. Several beds of the plant are made as they are distributed on the Vijayadashami day. This plant is known as ‘Jamara’ and is considered to be the blessing of Goddess Durga.

The seventh day is known as fulpati. Animal sacrifices are held on the eighth and ninth day. 

Other Navratris in a Year

Apart from the Navratri in September – October, there are three other Navratras in a year. The most important among the three is the festival observed in March-April especially in North India. This is also known as Vasant or Ram Navaratri as it coincides with the Ram Navami festival.

Thus there are four important Navratri in a year in a traditional Hindu lunar calendar.

Chaitra Navratri March - April 2019 dates

Day 1 – April 6, 2019 – Ghatsthapana - Navratri Begins – Chandra Darshan
Day 2 – April 7 – Sindhara Dooj, Dwitiya
Day 3 – April 8 – Gaur Teej, Saubhagya Teej, Tritiya
Day 4 – April 9 – Varadvinayak Chaturthi 
Day 5 – April 10 – Sri Laxmi Panchami Vrat, Naag Vrat Pujan
Day 6 – April 11 – Skand Shashthi, Yamuna Jayanti
Day 7 – April 12 – Mahasaptami Vrat, Chaiti Chath, Vijaya Saptami
Day 8 – April 13 – Sri Durga Mahaashtami, Annapurna Ashtami
Day 9 – April 14, 20189 - Navami - Chaitra Navratri ends. The day is also observed as Ram Navami. (Get complete detail of Chaitra Navratri here)

Magh or Gupt Navratra (January – February)
Begins on February 5, 2019, and ends on February 14, 2019 (Read more about Magh Festival here)

Ashad or Gupt Navaratri (June – July)
Ashad Navratri begins on July 13, 2018, and ends on July 21, 2018

Navrati 2019 (September/ October) dates - September 29 to October 7, 2019

Another important festival is the Shakambari Navaratri observed in Poush month which is exclusively dedicated to Goddess Shakambari Mata.