Navratri is celebrated to propitiate the nine forms of Goddess Durga, but has significance with respect to change of seasons too. It marks the beginning of the winter season with several changes in nature. The start of the increasing moon phase of the month Ashwin in the Indian lunar calendar is the date when the Navratri fasts and other observances begin.
The legend behind the festival is that Goddess Durga defeated the demon Mahishasura after fighting with him during these nine days. The Navratri fast ends on the ninth day with a Havan or fire rite in which oblations are offered to the deity with the chant of mantras. Usually an idol is worshipped for the nine days of Navratri and it is immersed on the tenth day, which is the day of Vijay Dashmi or Dusshehra.
[Read: Health Risks due to Navratri]
From the health point of view, this is considered to be a way to cleanse and detoxify your body before the arrival of winter. The rising moon phase of the month of Ashwin is the transition phase from autumn to winter and the fasts undertaken in the period are most beneficial and they can keep you healthy for the rest of the year. It is important that you observe your fast with an eye on your calories. Many times, it has been found that people end up having richer food during Navratri in the name of fasting.
Since the navratri falls between two seasons, the planetary positions and atmosphere are considered to be very conducive for worship of deities. The bio-chemical changes in the body become conducive to performing of various purifying observances of mind and body. Blessing of Goddess Durga in her nine forms are invoked by various observances. The time of the year is considered very auspicious for this purpose by the devotees, as per tradition.
Goddess Durga or Shakti is invoked for knowledge, prosperity and divine grace. The tradition of fasting during Navratri also has roots in Ayurveda. It is believed that fasting during this period would bring more health benefits, the balancing of doshas in the Ayurvedic parlance, as compared to other times of the year. The Navratris fall on two occasions in a year. The first between autumn and winter (Sharadiya Navratra) while the other between winter and spring (Vasantika Navratra).
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