The connecting bond for all Indian festivals is the culture, which is called Samskrti. The word Samskrti itself means “that which is well done” as Kriti means “to do well”.
This is said so for, over time, the civilization in India had learnt, understood and perfected the ways of living. It is a way of living which is in sync with Nature as reflected in the timing of the festivals in India which are mainly based on seasons and the scientific principles of Nature. Even though most people celebrate just one Navaratri festival during September – October every year, there are actually 4 Navaratri festivals in a year, each lasting for 9 nights and days.
Why are there 4 Navaratri festivals in a year?
India has 4 seasons and so Navaratri is celebrated 4 times in a year.
The prime ones are celebrated in the months of March-April, the transition from Winter to Spring and in the months of September-October, the transition from summer to autumn. If you note, these are the windows close to the two equinoxes as well, the period when days and nights are equal and balanced.
Why does each celebration last for nine nights and days?
Navaratri festival celebrates the transitory nature between the four major seasons in Nature, they being summer, winter, spring and autumn. The transition from one to the other season does not take place in just one day but in fact was considered in Indian thought, to be a full span of 9 to 10 days. So this transitional nature of Nature was earmarked as a period of time which is 9 days and 9 nights.
From such practices, it comes out clear to us that, in the traditional Indian thought, while there was a definite calendar with days, hours, minutes and finer divisions of time, equal importance was also given to transitory periods – transition from day to night, from month to month, from season to season and so on.
Change in Season, Change in life pattern
When seasons change, life pattern also changes. The body which is a part of Nature, changes with changing surroundings, change in seasons. There is a change in diet pattern, sleep, metabolism etc. with the change in season. In a society closely in tune with Nature, it also affects occupations, work undertaken, dressing and overall behavior. Navaratri is such a transition from one season to another and is a celebration of this change.
Whenever there is a change, one can either resist it or accept it. With resistance comes hardships. With acceptance comes mellowness. Celebrating is one way of yielding to and accepting a change wholeheartedly. And where there is wholehearted acceptance, contentment will follow and so will happiness.
Navaratri is the expression of such a celebration where we recognize there is going to be a change, understand the change that is to follow and accept it willingly.