A Hindu festival, spanning nine nights is celebrated every year with much zeal and great fervour. The main crux of this festival is to celebrate the victory of good over evil which is something that goes in sync with our Hindu mythology. The word Navratri in itself means “Nine Nights” and typically honours Maa Durga. During this whole period of nine days, devotees celebrate Goddess Durga in her all nine divine forms.
Moreover, it is interesting to know that we celebrate Navratri for a number of reasons out of which one of the major reason is the seasonal change. During this time, nature itself goes through subtle changes that are mainly the beginning of summer and winter seasons for both, Chaitra as well as Sharad Navratri.
Celebrated on a PAN India basis, in eastern and north-eastern states of India, Durga puja is considered synonymous with Navratri as Maa Durga is known for restoring faith and dharma.
In northern India, during this period, Ram Leela is enacted for a period of 10 days. Celebrations include stage recitals, decorations, etc. Each day in Navratri is dedicated to a specific Goddess. Day 1 is dedicated to Shailaputri and similarly, the second day is dedicated to Brahmacharini, the third one to Chandraghanta, 4th one to Maa Kushmanda, 5th one to Skandamata and likewise it goes till Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri, Siddhidatri.
As the legend goes, there was a time when all the three worlds were inflicted by the terror of a demon named Mahishasura. And because of the kind of boons he had, he could not be killed by any humans, demons and even gods, except the feminine energy. However, being all-powerful, Mahishasura considered himself unbeatable and didn't look upon a female as someone who could possibly vanquish him. Saving the world was necessary and it was Goddess Durga who took a furious form to wage a war against the demon. It is said that the battle went on for a total of 9 days and ended on the tenth day when Goddess Durga beheaded Mahishasura and spread peace upon Earth again.
The day of Ram Navami celebrates the birth of Lord Rama. Considered as the seventh Avatar of Lord Vishnu, the birth of Lord Rama signifies the end of evil by good. It is said that Lord Vishnu had to take a human form to end the atrocities of the demon King Raavana. And to do this, he took birth as King Dashratha's and Queen Kausalya's son in the city of Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. On this day, Ram Kathas happen in most of the temples. The special cities and places in Uttar Pradesh, Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu), and Sitamarhi (Bihar) witness major celebrations. The whole atmosphere becomes quite lively owing to the bhajans, kirtans and blissful devotion flowing in the air. There are some Vaishnava communities which celebrate the Chaitra Navratri remembering Lord Rama.
It is somewhat interesting to know that the Goddess also finds mention in the historic Sikhism Literature. Specifically in the Dasam Granth which has been dedicated to Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Many historians and people coming from highly intellectual backgrounds have come to this conclusion that in Sikhism a great reverence has been laid on Devi Shakthi. One example which illustrates this is the fact that Guru Angad was highly devoted to Maa Durga.
In the colonial times, the people who were forced to travel to other lands as labours and people who themselves travelled to faraway lands still maintain the ritualistic tradition to give reverence to their Goddesses. And it is owing to this very fact that one can find the presence of Hindu temples in various countries like Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia.
The festival of Navratri is celebrated with great enthusiasm all over India. But the way celebrations are at their peak at Vaishno Devi is really incredible. Although one can visit Vaishno Devi at any other time as well, the yatra during the auspicious time of Navratri offers you an experience which is at the best of its spiritual bliss.
During the nine days of Navratri, the Bawe Wali Mata Temple sees a very heavy rush of devotees. It feels as if every resident of Jammu visits this temple for the darshan of the Goddess. The rush of devotees can be seen from as early as 3:00 am in the morning and continues till late hours as the divine bliss flows in the air. During this time, the entire temple is decorated with flowers and lights for nine days of divine celebrations which are dedicated to the nine different forms of Goddess Durga.
By Air. Travelling to Katra, Jammu via flight is a good option. Situated at a distance of 50 km, Jammu airport is the nearest airport from Katra. Jammu airport is well-connected with other major cities in India such as Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune and receives direct flights from other cities. After reaching the airport, you would need to take a local cab to reach your hotel.
By Road. Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation buses operate on a regular basis to Katra. Apart from that, you can also take your own vehicle to reach Katra. From major cities like Delhi, it would take you around 11 hours of travelling time. From Pune, approximately 36 hours, from Mumbai approximately 35 hours and from Bangalore approximately 46 hours. To travel all the way to Katra, you will have to take the route via NH44 or NH48.
By Train. Katra is well-connected via train services. The nearest railway station from Katra, Jammu is Udhampur railway station. You can easily find and board a train from major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Pune to Udhampur. From there Katra is located at a distance of around 41km so after getting off the railway station, you would need to hire some means of public transportation to reach your accommodation option. There are many bus services available as well which include both ordinary and luxury buses.
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29 September 2019 - 7 October 2019
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