Nav means Nine, Ratri means Night, actual meaning of Navratri is nine nights. This festival is celebrated by Akhand Jyot (Diya or oil lamp – which is lighten for continuous nine days and nights)
Navratri festival is celebrated all over India by Hindu’s. Most of the people know two type of Navratri festival held in a year. One Maha Navratri, which comes in the month of September or October and another is Chaitra Navratri, which comes in the month of March or April. Other than these two there are two more Navratris, Gupt Navratri and Megh Navratri.
As per Hindu calendar Chaitra Navratri is nine days festival falls in month of Chaitra, the full moon day. This Chairta Navratri is also known as Vasant Navratri. Lord Rama’s birthday falls on the ninth day of Navratri, so it is also called as Rama Navratri. During both the Navaratri festivals people worship Goddess Durga and her nine forms, devotees offer prayers to one of the nine forms on each day during Navratris. Rituals are performed with great Zeal in temples while devotees adorn their houses. Devotee performs havans, puja and aarti to maintain a peaceful atmosphere. The festival is dedicated to Shakti which is significantly referred to as Goddess Durga. This festival is mostly celebrated in the northern part of India and Maharashtra Navratri is celebrated as Gudi Padwa, which is also celebrated on the same day. Different regions follow a variety of rituals through the course of the nine days. This year Chaitra Navratri is starting on 18th March till 25th March 2018. This year the festival will be celebrated for 8 days instead of 9 days as Ashtami and Navami are falling on the same day, as per Hindu Calendar.
In respect of Goddess Durga people fast for nine days, they live on milk, juices or fruits for entire day. Devotees refrain from having meat, chicken, fish, eggs, liquor, onion, garlic etc. they remain only on rock salt even spices are not consumed. People have tea, coffee along with potato chips or potato cooked with rock salt. Some of them also consume dry fruits. One must watch out their behaviour, to keep them- self cool and calm.
Nine forms of Goddess Durga are:-
1) Goddess Shailputri
2) Goddess Bramacharin
3) Goddess Chandraghanta
4) Goddess Kushmanda
5) Goddess Skandamata
6) Goddess katyayani
7) Goddess kaalratri
8) Goddess Mahagauri
9) Goddess Siddhidatri
The last day of festival is all about fasting, praying, performing havans inviting relatives and eating different foods, enjoying etc. It is said that Lord Shiva permitted Goddess Durga to meet her mother just for nine days. And at that time Goddess Durga demolished demon Mahishasura. Goddess Durga has eternal divine power, which can never be created nor destroyed.