The term Nav Ratri means nine nights. In a typical year, there are four Navratris namely Sharada Navratri, Vasanta Navratri, Magha Navratri and Ashada Navratri. The last two Navratris that come in the months of Magha and Ashada are called as Gupta Navratris that are celebrated only by spiritual aspirants. Sharada Navratri is a very famous one largely followed by most people. Chaitra Navratri falling in the month of Chaitra (March – April) is also called as Vasanta Navratri.
The timing of Chaitra Navratri
Chaitra Navratri begins on the first day of the Hindu calendar which is called as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra and Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh. This festival is meant to worship the divine in the form of Mother or feminine energy that creates, sustains and annihilates the universe. Chaitra Navratri is also called as Rama Navratri.
Worshipping the forms and manifestations of Durga
Chaitra Navratri is meant to worship the ten popular forms of Ma Durga namely Durga, Bhadrakali, Jagadamba, Annapurna, Sarvamangala, Bhairavi, Chandika, Lalita, Bhavani and Mookambika. On the nine nights of Navratri, the nine forms of Durga are worshipped one after the other in succession. The nine manifestations of Durga are Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Mahagauri, and Siddhidatri. The same customs, worshipping procedures and rituals followed during the Sharad Navratri are followed during Chaitra Navratri as well.
The most common timing for the Navratri festival pujas is during the evenings of these nine days. People perform the worship of Ma Durga in their own inimitable ways and distribute the prasad among the devotees gathered in temples and homes.