Nava-ratri literally means nine nights. This festival is observed twice a year, once in the beginning of summer and again in the beginning of winter. Before I explain “why twice a year?”, let me throw some light on the significance of this religious observance “Nava-ratri” in our Dharma.
During Nava-ratri, we worship power on the energy aspect of God in form, the universal mother commonly referred to as Durga, or which literally means the remover of miseries of life. She is also referred to as Devi (the female god) or Shakti (energy). It is this energy which helps God to proceed with the work of creation, preservation and destruction. In other words, you can say that God is motionless, absolutely changeless, and the Divine Mother, Durga, does everything. Truly speaking, our worship of Shakti re-confirms the scientific theory that energy is imperishable. It cannot be created or destroyed. It is always there. We think this energy is only a form of Divine Mother, who is the mother of all, and all of us are her children. “Why mother; why not father?”, you may ask. Let me just say that we believe that God’s glory, his cosmic energy, his greatness and supremacy can best be depicted as the motherhood aspect of God. Just as a child finds all these qualities in his or her mother, similarly, all of us look upon God as mother. In fact, Hinduism is the only religion in the world, which gives so much importance to the mother aspect of God because we believe that mother, is the creative aspect of the absolute.
Now let me get back to the question of “why is Nava-ratri celebrated twice a year?” You see, in every year the beginning of summer and the beginning of winter are two very important junctions of climatic and solar influence. These two junctions are taken as the sacred opportunities for the worship of the divine power for the following two reasons:
We believe that it is the divine power which provides energy for the earth to move around the sun, causing the changes in the outer nature and that this divine power must be thanked for maintaining the correct balance of the universe, and,
Due to the changes in the outer nature, the bodies and minds of people undergo a considerable change, and hence, we worship the divine power to bestow upon all of us enough potent powers to maintain our physical and mental balance.
The best question that arises about “Navi-ratri” is, “why do we worship Devi for nine days and nights?” This is because we divide Nava-ratri into sets of three days to adore different aspects of the supreme goddess. First three days, Mother is adored as power of force called Durga in order to destroy all our impurities, vices and defects. The next three days Mother is adored as giver of spiritual wealth, Lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees the inexhaustible wealth. The final set of three days are spent in worshipping the Mother as the giver of wisdom, Saraswati, who is divine knowledge of God personified. In order to be successful in all aspects of life, we need the blessings of all three aspects of the divine mother; hence, the worship for nine nights.
Thus, I suggest you join your parents in worshipping “Ma Durga” during the Nava-ratri. She will bestow on you wealth, auspiciousness, prosperity, knowledge, and other potent powers to cross every hurdle of life. Remember everyone in this world worships power; they all are Durga worshippers because there is no one who does not love and long for power in some form or the other.