It is post-monsoon autumn festival called Sharada Navaratri that is the most observed in the honour of the divine feminine Devi. The festival is celebrated in the bright half of the Hindu calendar month Ashvin, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October.
Navadurga – The nine goddesses worshipped in Navaratri.
The festival is associated to the prominent battle that took place between Durga and demon the Mahishasura and celebrates the victory of good over evil. These nine days are solely dedicated to Durga and her eight avatars – the Navadurga. Each day is associated to an incarnation of the goddess:
Day 1 – Shailaputri
Known as Pratipada (first day), this day is associated with Shailaputri (“Daughter of Mountain”), an incarnation of Parvati. It is in this form that Durga is worshiped as the wife of Shiva; she is depicted as riding the bull, Nandi, with a trishula in her right hand and lotus in her left. Shailaputri is considered to be the direct incarnation of Mahakali. The color of the day is grey, which depicts action and vigor. She is also considered to be a reincarnation of Sati and is also known as Hemavati.
Day 2 – Brahmacharini
On Dwitiya (second day), Goddess Brahmacharini, another incarnation of Parvati, is worshiped. In this form, Parvati became Yogini, her unmarried self. Brahmacharini is worshiped for emancipation or moksha and endowment of peace and prosperity. Depicted as walking bare feet and holding a japamala (rosary) and a kamandala (pot) in her hands, she symbolizes bliss and calm. Blue is the color code of this day. The orange color which depicts tranquility is sometimes used yet strong energy flows everywhere.
Day 3 – Chandraghanta
Tritiya (third day) commemorates the worship of Chandraghanta – the name derived from the fact that after marrying Shiva, Parvati adorned her forehead with the ardhachandra (lit. half-moon). She is the embodiment of beauty and is also symbolic of bravery. White is the color of the third day, which is a vivacious color and can pep up everyone’s mood.
Day 4 – Kushmanda
Goddess Kushmanda is worshiped on Chaturthi (fourth day). Believed to be the creative power of the universe, Kushmanda is associated with the endowment of vegetation on earth, and hence, the color of the day is Red. She is depicted as having eight arms and sits on a Tiger.
Day 5 – Skandamata
Skandamata, the goddess worshiped on Panchami (fifth day), is the mother of Skanda (or Kartikeya). The color of Royal Blue is symbolic of the transforming strength of a mother when her child is confronted with danger. She is depicted riding a ferocious lion, having four arms, and holding her baby.
Day 6 – Katyayani
Born to sage Katyayana, she is an incarnation of Durga and is shown to exhibit courage which is symbolized by the color Yellow. Known as the warrior goddess, she is considered one of the most violent forms of Devi. In this avatar, Katyayani rides a lion and has four hands. She is a form of Parvati, Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati. She is celebrated on Shashtami (sixth day).
Day 7 – Kaalaratri
Considered the most ferocious form of Goddess Durga, Kalaratri is revered on Saptami. It is believed that Parvati removed her fair skin to kill the demons Sumbha and Nisumbha. The color of the day is Green. The Goddess appears in a red coloured attire or tiger skin with a lot of rage in her fiery eyes, her skin turns black. The red color portrays prayer and ensures the devotees that the Goddess will protect them from harm. She is celebrated on Saptami (seventh day)
Day 8 – Mahagauri
Mahagauri symbolizes intelligence and peace. It is believed when Kaalaratri took a bath in the Ganga river, she became extremely fair from her darker complexion. The color associated with this day is Peacock Green which depicts optimism. She is celebrated on Ashtami (eighth day).
Day 9 – Siddhidatri
On the last day of the festival also known as Navami (ninth day), people pray to Siddhidhatri. Sitting on a lotus, she is believed to possess and bestows all types of Siddhis. Here she has four hands. Also known as Mahalakshmi, The purple color of the day portrays an admiration towards nature’s beauty. Siddhidatri is Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva. Siddhidhatri is also seen as the Ardhanarishvara form of Shiva and Shakti. It is believed that one side of Lord Shiva’s body is that of Goddess Siddhidatri. Therefore, he is also known by the name of Ardhanarishwara. According to Vedic scriptures, Lord Shiva attained all the siddhis by worshiping this Goddess.
Navratri, or ‘nine nights‘ is a time when one engages in healthy eating and fasting and pays obeisance to the divine goddess (devi) signified by Goddess Durga with the traditional garbas.
It also marked the end of Durga Puja when idols of the mother goddess are immersed in rivers.
Like every year, the city was was dotted with Ravana effigies, to be burnt later in the evening, celebrating his defeat at the hands of Lord Rama. The effigies are accompanied by fireworks at various parks and open spaces across the city.