The festival of Navratri starts tomorrow, October 8th! It is literally the ‘festival of nine nights’, ‘nav’ meaning nine, and ‘ratris’ meaning nights. It is a lovely celebration of the Goddess, or spiritual energy in its divine, female form. There are several versions of the story. Here’s one:
A mighty demon Mahishasura worshipped Lord Shiva and as a reward for his perseverence, Shiva granted him the power of eternity. Mahishasura then started to kill and harass innocent people and set out to win seven lokas. Terrified by his power and behaviour, the gods appealed to Lord Shiva to tame the demon. Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar (Shiva) then combined their supreme powers, out of which they created a divine being called Shakti, or Durga (the Warrior Goddess). Mahishasura was mesmerized by her beauty and approached her to ask for her hand in marriage. Durga agreed to marry him on the condition that Mahishasura should win over her in a duel. Mahishasura who felt he was undefeatable, agreed. The duel carried on for 9 nights and the end of 9th night Goddess Durga beheaded Mahishasura. These are the nine nights that are celebrated as the Navratris or Navratras!