Chaitra Navratri is an important Hindu festival that is celebrated over a period of nine days. The festivities begin from the ‘pratipada’ (1st day) till the ‘navami’ (9th day) of the Shukla Paksha (the bright fortnight of moon) during the Hindu month of ‘Chaitra’, which is also the first month of the Hindu calendar and hence the name, Chaitra Navratri. According to the English calendar it falls during the months between March-April.
Chaitra Navratri is also known as ‘Vasanta Navratri’ or ‘Rama Navratri’ as the ninth day of the Navratri festivity is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Rama. During the Chaitra Navratri the nine days are dedicated to worshipping the nine forms of Goddess Shakti and most of the rituals and customs are same as followed during the ‘Shardiya Navratri’.
According to the Hindu Puranas and scriptures, Chaitra Navratri was the most important Navratri in which Goddess Shakti was worshipped, until Lord Rama worshipped Goddess Durga in the ‘Ashwin’ month during the Ramayana war. Chaitra Navratri is celebrated with immense pomp and show in whole of India, especially the northern states.
This Hindu festival is very popular in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to name a few. In most of these states, a huge fair is organised in the Shakti temples. In the state of Maharashtra it begins with ‘Gudi Padwa’ whereas in southern states like Andhra Pradesh, the celebrations kick start with ‘Ugadi’.