The pious nine day festival of navrata bagan today (saturday 19/09/09) and shall continue till sunday (27/09/09) ulitmately culminating into the festival of Dussehra which symbolizes the victory of good over evil.
Navratra or nine-nights are devoted to the nine incarnations of Godess Shakti or Durga. Durga means shredding of evils or(durgati). By appeasing diety, we are seeking her blessings to free us from all the evils. In Hindu religion, Shakti and her incarnations has been regarded as the mother who has given us all what we possess. Hence we have nine days of festivities which are devoted to the Mother .Also the mother symbolizes shakti (or energy).It is this shakti which helps God to proceed with the work of creation, preservation and destruction. Shakti represents the ultimate power used by Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh(shiv). Hence we have Navratras to worship this supreme power; Shakti.
Navratras are celebrated twice a year. One is celebrated in the spring time which is also known as chaitra navratri. It finallay culminates into Ram Navmi (Birth date of Lord Rama) and the other is celebrated during the onset of winters, sharad Navratri.
Apart from the religious reason of celebrating navratri, I found that we have one more reason for celebrating this festival.
In Hindu culture, we devote every blessings of nature as a gift from God. Navratri also marks the seeking of blessings from the Godess for the change of season.While Chaitra Navratris marks the onset of Summers in India, Sharad Navratris marks the onset of Winters. And we celebrate the mark of this season with the festival.
During Navratri, people observe fasting for nine days. There is a specific reason for keeping fast.
Fasting has its own importance and is almost prevalant in all the religions like, muslim;jainism;buddhism etc. Fasting means one is invoking his satguns (or positive energy). When one observes fast, one need to cleanse and purify himself from inner evils and dirts. One is abstaining himself from all sort of ill-activities and seek his true inner self(atma).This helps in gaining self-confidence and invoking our postive energies. By eating tamsik (all Non-Veg or Spicy etc.)food, one is increasing his negetive energies. Hence during fasting, there is a provision of eating satvik foods. Though these days, fasting has emerged as a new business and a business oportunity for restaurants serving special navratri menus.
Navratri also symbolizes socialising among the individuals. People involve themselves in Jagrans, Satsangs, Garba, Dandia nights, Durga Pooja celebrations which marks a sort of social gathering.
Hence Navratri is not only about Pooja, Fasting and more for theist people. There is more than all of these and for every one.
Wishing you all a very Happy Navratri and Happy Dussehra.