The modern science tells us that the ecosystem of the earth is driven by energy received from the Sun. This ecosystem is steadily functioning on its own without any other stimulus. The entire cycle of birth, growth and death continues in this energy driven planet. This confirms that energy is the most important component for keeping a system in a functioning state.
The same philosophy was prevalent in the earlier periods also when modern science had not taken roots. The rishis and sages of yester years also visualized a system in which birth, growth and death took place. They did not keep them confined to the earth only but thought about the creation of the whole “Brahmand” (Universe). They connected all the events with mythology.
As per Hindu belief the process of creation, sustenance and destruction are three different types of works and these works are the domains of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh respectively. Together, these Gods are known as “Trimurti” (Trinity). However, the processes of creation, sustenance and destruction also require energy. These energy components are available in the form of divine feminine power which is referred to as “Shakti” or “Aadi Shakti” represented by Maha Saraswati, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Kali. These three feminine energy sources are associated with Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh respectively. Thus, the whole process of creation, sustenance and destruction is driven by the three feminine powers symbolized by three goddesses.
Navratri is celebrated five times a year. They are chaitra Navratri, Ashadha Navratri, the Sharad Navratri, Pausha and Magha Navratri. Of these, the Sharad Navratri and the Vasant Navratri are the most important. The period is significant for the worship of Maha Saraswati, Maha Lakshmi, and Maha Kaali. The first three days are reserved for the worship of Durga or Kali. The next three days are the days of Maha Lakshmi and the last three days are the days for worshiping Maha Saraswati.
The chaitra Navratri is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Chaitra (March–April) and is observed during the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon) of Chaitra. The beginning of this Navratri also marks the start of the New Year as per the Hindu mythological lunar calendar (Vikram Samvat). This is celebrated during Vasant Ritu (beginning of summer) (March- April). This is also known as Chaitra Navratri as it falls during the lunar month of Chaitra. In the current year, Navratri will start from 31st March 2014. Lord Ram and Hanuman are also worshiped with Maa Durga during Navratri. As Lord Rama took birth on the auspicious ninth day of Navratri it is also celebrated as Ram Navami.
The nine days of the chaitra Navratri have been divided among nine forms of Durga.
Shailputri (Vasant Navratri Day 1): The first day (pratipada) belongs to “Shailputri”. This name is synonyms with Parvati, daughter of Himalaya. She took an oath to marry Lord Shiva and she is worshiped for this rock solid determination. The underline moral is to work hard for achieving success.
Brahmacharini (Vasant Navratri Day 2): The second day (dwitiya) is reserved for “Brahmacharini”. She is considered as a storehouse of knowledge and wisdom. She was created by “Brahma” for the sustenance of the world for which knowledge was very important. She wears “Rudraksha” and lives like a “Brahmacharini”.
Chandraghanta (Vasant Navratri Day 3): The third day (Tritiya) is the day for the worship of “Chandraghanta”. She emits a cool halo like Moon and teaches the importance of good behavior, soft and sweet speech and gentle manners. She is the controller of anger and a protector from evils.
Kushmanda (Vasant Navratri Day 4): The fourth day (Chaturthi) is the day for worship of the devi in “pindi form”. This form has produced the name “Kushmanda”. The goddess possesses 8 arms and mounts on a tiger. She has the power to save her devotees from trouble.
Skandmata (Vasant Navratri Day 5): The fifth day (Panchami) is the day of “Skandmata”. Skand is the name of “Sanat Kumar” who was looked after by the mother. She has the unique power to transform even the ignorant into knowledgeable. She blessed “Kalidas” for creating two epics “Raghuvansha” and “Meghadoot”.
Katyayini (Vasant Navratri Day 6): The sixth day (Shasthi) is the day of worshiping mother “Katyayini” she spent her time in penance in the ashram of “Katyayan Rishi”. She experimented with different techniques and, therefore, her name is remembered for research. She drives her devotees towards acquiring more knowledge.
Kalratri (Vasant Navratri Day 7): The seventh day (Saptami) is the day for worshiping the seventh form of Durga- “Kalratri”. She is the destroyer of darkness and brings light to the world. She protects from enemies and makes her devotees free from fear.
Mahagauri (Vasant Navratri Day 8): The eighth day (Ashtami) is reserved for the 8th form of Durga. “Mahagauri” is the name of Parvati and her “Siddhi peeth” is at “Kankhal” near Haridwar which is close to Himalaya. She is the mother of Lord Ganesh and Lord Kartikeya.
Siddhidatri (Vasant Navratri Day 9): The ninth day (Navami) is reserved for the worship of the ninth form of Durga - “Siddhidatri”. She is capable of awarding every boon and is the ultimate power in this respect.