Hindu Festivities

A Background to Navratri

Navratri is a very important and popular festival of India.   Navratri is celebrated by communities getting together for dances and nightly feasts and it symbolises the triumph of good over evil. It comes twice a year, once around March-April and the second time, around September-October.

dandiya-1

The nine days and nights of Navratri are entirely devoted to the Mother Goddess. Throughout this period, fasts, strictly vegetarian diets, jap (chanting mantras in honour of the Goddess Shakti), religious hymns, prayer, meditation and recitation of sacred texts related to Devi Maa (Mother Goddess) are undertaken by many individuals.


Customs & Rituals of Navratri

  • The main ritual of Navratri, celebrated on September-October, consists of placing images of Goddess Durga, in homes and temples. The devotees offer fruits and flowers to the Goddess. They also sing bhajans in her honour.
  • The first three days of Navratri are devoted exclusively to the worship of Goddess Durga, when her energy and power are worshipped. Each day is dedicated to a different appearance of Durga, namely Kumari, Parvati and Kali.
  • There is also a custom of planting barley seeds in a small bed of mud on the first day of puja. The shoots, when grown are given to the attendees as a blessing from the Goddess, after the puja ceremony.
  • The fourth, fifth and sixth days of Navratri are dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, who is the Goddess of Wealth & Prosperity. On the fifth day the Goddess Saraswati is also prayed to, which is known as Lalita Panchami.
  • The seventh day is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, while the Goddess of Art and Knowledge is worshipped on the eight day and a yagna is also performed.
  • The ninth day is the final day of Navratri celebrations, which is also known as 'Mahanavami'. On this day, Kanya puja is performed, where nine young girls, who have not yet reached the stage of puberty, are worshipped. Each of these nine girls symbolise one of the nine forms of Goddess Durga. The feet of the girls are washed to welcome the goddess and show respect to her. Thereafter, the girls are offered food and a set of new clothes as a gift token from the devotees.
  • The nine-day Navratri celebrations that fall in September-October come to an end with the immersion of the idols of Goddess Durga in water.

Dandiya and Garba are the featured dances performed on the evenings of Navratri, mainly in Gujarat. Garba is performed before the 'aarti', as devotional performance in the honour of the Goddess, while Dandiya is performed after it, as a part of the celebrations.

In case of the September-October Navratri celebrations, the tenth day is celebrated as Dussehra. On this day, devotees perform 'Saraswati Puja', for blessings of knowledge and mental peace. On this day, the burning of a dummy sculpture of the demon king Ravana also takes place.

 This year Navratri will tkae place betweeb 21th to 30th September.

Author: Pujya Deema Chudasama

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