Navaratri - worship of Devi
(Sharad Navaratri aka Durga Puja)

Today (15 Oct) is the start of Navaratri,
the worship of Devi. The Devi (goddess)
is worshiped in various forms.
As Durga. As Lakshmi. As Sarasvati.

The festival begins
on the first Tithi in the Chandramana
month of Aashvina and ends on the
tenth Tithi. The last day is also called
Vijaya-dashami.

Navaratri literally means nine-nights -
Nava (nine) Ratri (night). And it indeed
lasts nine nights and ten days. [+]

There are two Navaratri each year.
The Sharad Navaratri and
the Vasanta Navaratri.

Vasanta (Spring) Navaratri is observed
in the Spring season,
while Sharad (fall/autumn)
Navaratri in the Fall season.

The two are six months apart.
Since, the Sharad Navaratri is the
one more widely observed, it is just
known as Navaratri. Without the
need to prefix it.

While Vasanta Navaratri happens
in the middle of Uttarayana, this
Navaratri happens in the middle of
Dakshinayana.

So the two Navaratri, observances of
the start of Uttarayana and Dakshinayana
constitute the four significant points during
Earth's journey around the Sun.

Paramacharya gives a reason to celebrate
Navaratri at this time. The Spring and Fall
seasons are the most pleasant seasons.
Neither hot nor cold. [^] (which is what mid-point
of each Ayana mean - mid point of the transition
from summer to winter).

What better time for
worship than the most pleasant times of the year.
Hence the Navaratri days are great days to worship.

[+] The observance is based on
      Tithi. A duration of a Tithi varies
      and is not of 24 hours. So, some
      years it will turn out to be
      8 nights/9 days.

[^] Deivattin Kural Vol. 1, pg 742

Thanks,
hari.
parampara.in
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