This is the most important navratri among all the 5 navratri of the year, fall’s in Sharad season (Oct –Nov) and is simply called Maha Navratri and is celebrated in the month of Ashivina as per hindu calendar. Sharad Navratri celebrated all parts of the India on very big scale including Gujrat and West – Bengal. Commences on the first and ends on the tenth day of the bright half of the lunar month Asvina. Sharad Navratri is the autumnal celebration of good harvest. Goddess Durga the symbol of Shakti is worshipped with great ardour. She slays the evil to establish peace and prosperity on the earth. This festival is celebrated almost throughout the country and especially the East.

The story behind Sharad Navratri Battle of good over evil.

Lord Brahma of the trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara, granted Mahishasura the “buffalo demon,” a boon that protected him from any man in the world . Empowered by this gift, Mahishasura set out to conquer the world, heaven and the world, and brought about the defeat of the king of deities,Indra. At the pleading of Indra, the king of the Gods, Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva created Devi Durga, by combining their own divine powers (shakti). Endowed with the trinity’s shakti, Durga proved to be a formidable opponent who fought Mahisa for nine days, beheading him on the tenth. The nine nights known as Navratri, symbolize the nine days of battle between Devi Durga and Mahisasura, while the tenth day, which is vijayadashami-literally means the victorious tenth day of conquest of good over evil.

Daksha, the king of the Himalayas and the plains, and his wife, Menaka, had a daughter called Uma. Uma, was a devotee of Shiva since she was a child.She worshipped the Lord as her husband. Shiva, satisfied by her devotion and faith agreed to marry her. Daksha did not approve of a tiger-skin clad groom with ash and dirt spread over all of his body. Despite all the opposition from her father,Uma got married to Lord Shiva but was prevented by her father from moving to Kailash, the abode of Shiva.

Daksha, later on, arranged for a ‘yagna’ where everyone except Shiva was invited. Uma, feeling ashamed of the behavior of her father and shocked by the attitude towards her husband, committed Sati (the woman immolates herself in a burning pyre). Shiva came to know about this and went to Daksha’s house. He lifted the body of Uma on his shoulders and started dancing madly.(Taandav) With the supreme power dancing, the World was on the verge of destruction. Narayana, (Lord Vishnu) one of the trinity, came forward as a saviour and used his ‘Chakra’ to cut the Body of Uma into pieces. Those pieces started falling off from the shoulder of the dancing Shiva into different parts of the World. At fifty-two places these pieces fell, the three in Gujarat being; Ambaji in Banaskantha, Bahucharaji in Chunaval and Kalika on Pavagadh hill in Panchmahals. Shiva was finally pacified when the last piece fell off from his shoulder. Narayana revived Uma for a new life. Daksha, who was extremely sorry about his misdeeds, prayed for mercy and was finally forgiven. The places where the pieces had fallen are known as the ‘Shakti Piths‘ or energy pits, few of these places being Kalighat in Calcutta, Kamakshya near Guwahati among others. Ever since peace was restored, Uma, with her four children, Ganesh, Kartick, Saraswati and Laxmi and with her two ‘sakhis’ – Jaya and Bijaya, comes to visit her parent’s home each year during the season of ‘Sharat’ or autumn when Durga Puja is celebrated.

In West Bengal Navratri, and vijayadashami are respectively celebrated as Durga Puja and Dasara. In South India the festival includes other female deities an dedicates three days of the festival to Lakshmi, the female archetype of wealth and fortune, and another three to Saraswathi, the female archetype of learning, music and knowledge.

In northern India it takes the form of the great epic Ramayana where Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu is victorious over the evil king Ravana.

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