Navratri, also known as Navaratri or Navarathri, is a Hindu festival that is celebrated across India. In the term Navratri, nav stands for 9 and ratri stands for night. Thus Navratri in Hindi means a festival that is celebrated for 9 nights.
If you are not familiar with this festival, you must be wondering why is Navratri celebrated? Just like any other Hindu festival, Navaratri is also celebrated to pray to the divine for health, wealth and prosperity. However, party animals (like youngsters) also look forward to Navarathri as it gives them 9 nights of nonstop dandiya.
Why do we fast in Navratri?
Bengali is one community who celebrate any festivals by devouring all the food they can possibly lay their hands on. However, there are communities which go through sincere fasting for 9 days. The scientific reason for such practice is detoxification, mindfulness, self-discipline and healing.
The Navratri history is different for different parts of the country. The basic idea of Navratri is to celebrate the triumph of the Divine over the Demon. The divine represents the good of society and the demon represents the drawbacks of the society.
9 Breathtaking avatars of Navratri in India
Durga Puja in West Bengal
Durga Puja is a 10-day festival which starts with Mahalaya i.e. the day Maa Durga defeats Asura. For Bengalis, the festival is mostly outdoors. Idols of Goddess Durga as well as her family as placed and prayed in pandals. Visting pandals is one of the biggest addictions of this Puja. The 10th day is Visarjan i.e. the idols are immersed in water to bid them farewell. It’s quite an emotional day for everyone.
Mind you it’s Durga Poojo and not Durga Puja!
Navratri in Gujarat
It’s one of the biggest festivals of Gujarat. People fast for 9 days by remembering the 9 aspects of Goddess Shakti. Garbo is the clay pot to which all the prayers are devoted. This clay pot is believed to represent atman i.e. soul. These 9 nights are usually celebrated by performing their famous folk dance Garba, a dance form where the young and old dance around the fire in circles.
Sitamarhi (in Bihar) is the birthplace of Sita. There are 2 types of Navaratri in Bihar, one during spring and the other one during autumn. Goddess Durga is prayed during the first and Ramanavami fair is the central point of the latter. This fair brings with it cattle trading, handicrafts, pottery, etc.
Navratri in North India
In North India, Navratri focusses on Lord Rama and the devil Raavana. Their story is enacted on small stages that are created outdoors. At the end of Navaratri is Dussera where effigies of Ravana are burnt to mark the end (destruction) of evil. These effigies are not merely 5ft but almost as mighty as a 5-storeyed building.
In Goa, devotional songs are presented to Devi during the nine nights. During the celebration, swings are decorated and image of goddess’ is placed in it. These swings are swung according to the tune of the devotional songs. Maha arti happens on the last day of Goa Navratri Festivals. This arti is an aid to attract a lot of eyeballs.
Dasara in Karnataka
Navaratri in Karnataka is known as Dasara. All the Hindu temples and cultural sites are lighted up for celebrations. All the Dasara events are works of King Raja Wodeyar I. On the 9th day of Maha navami, the royal sword is worshipped and taken on processions of elephant and horses. Meanwhile, on the 10th day, celebrations go on the streets.
In the newly formed state of Telangana, women produce a Bathukamma. This is a nicely decorated piece (almost 20ft high) which is made up of flowers for worshipping the Navaratri goddess. Goddess Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped in order during this time. Tradesman and farmers usually worship their weapons during this festival.
Navratri in Tamil Nadu
Navaratri in Tamil Nadu is quite different from the rest of India. They not only focus on Goddess Durga but also on Lakshmi and Saraswati. The festival is celebrated by performing their folk dance (ex. Bharatnatyam, Mohiniyattam, etc.). This festival also celebrates the dwelling of Devi in the various temples across the state.
In Maharashtra, the festivals begin with installing a pot (Ghatasthapana). The pot is made of copper or brass and is filled with water and placed on a heap of rice. This pot is surrounded by agricultural products like turmeric roots, leaves of mango trees, etc. Ladies worship this pot for 9 days.
We hope we included your region in this post. If we didn’t, let us know in the comments below how you celebrate Navratri and what makes this festival the most anticipated festival for you.
The Navratri dates 2017 are 21st September (Thursday) to 29th September (Friday).
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