Navratri- time to bow before ‘Mother’
It’s time to celebrate Goddess Durga, the epitome of power and purity in this divine land. Though the preparation for celebration starts almost a month before, yet the 16 days before Dusshera is the main period of worshipping the Goddess to seek her blessings. The last 9 days is celebrated as the Navratri as per the lunar calendar.
Navratri, literally interpreted as ‘nine nights’ is the most celebrated Hindu festival devoted to Goddess Durga. During Navratri festival devotees fast and perform ritualistic puja while performing Dandiya during the 9 days in almost every part of the country. Chanting of slokas, bhajan and folk songs usually accompany the puja rituals for nine consecutive days of Navratri. Chaitra and Sharad Navratri in India follows the lunar calendar and is celebrated in March/April and in September/October.
Gujarat, the focus of Navratri celebrations with night-long dance and festivities is often visited or read about. ‘Garba’ a devotional dance form that derives from the folklore of Lord Krishna singing and dancing with the gopis using ‘dandiya’ or slim wooden sticks is practiced months before and are performed in groups. In due course ‘Raas Garba’ also evolved to include steps like ‘Dodhiyu’, ‘Trikoniya’, ‘Lehree’ etc.
With time, Navratri festival has seen changes in celebrations with well-choreographed dance performances. During the festival people are dressed in bright costumes especially the ladies wear bright colour lehenga choli with lots of work. Come Navratri and the Tourists simply flock to Vadodara in Gujarat to enjoy a mix of high-energy band music performances, singing and dancing.
Navratri in India witnesses many forms of devotion across the country while believing in the common theme of prevailing of good over evil. In Jammu, the Vaishno Devi shrine sees a huge rise in the number of devotees making their way to the pilgrimage during Navratri. In Himachal Pradesh, the Navratri Mela marks the auspicious occasion of Navratri. In West Bengal, men and women celebrate ‘Durga Puja’ with great devotion and reverence and worship Goddess Durga destroying the demon ‘Mahishasura’. ‘Dussehra’ which coincides with the tenth day of Ashwin (Sharad) Navratri sees nation-wide celebration.
In South India, during Navratri, people arrange idols in a step pattern and invoke the name of God. In Mysore, the nine-day Navratri festival coincides with ‘Dussehra’ Festival involving folk music renditions and dance performances, wrestling tournaments and tableau participation. The procession of tableaux along with embellished elephants, camels and horses starting from the brightly-lit Mysore Palace is a famous one. ‘Vijayadashami’ is also an auspicious day in South and East India for performing puja for one’s vehicle.
While observing the Navratri with piousness and enthusiasm, most of the people take only fruits for the 9 days. While some other devotees chose to have roti or paratha made up of kutu-kate ka atta and potato. Mostly the food is prepared without salt and if needed only black salt or saindha namak is added to the preparations.
Significance of the 9 days of Navratri
The first day of Navratri is Ghatsthapana which is on 25th September 2014, followed by Chandra Darshan on the 2nd day. The 3rd day is the Sindoor Tritiya when the Chandraghanta Puja is performed. The 4th day is celebrated as the Varadvinayak Chaturthi, with the Upang Lalita Vrat or Skandamata Puja on the 5th day. On the 6th day Katayani Puja is performed followed by Saraswati Awahan-Kalaratri Puja on the 7th day. 8th day is the Mahastami day observed by all special pujas is offered to the Devi Durga. On the last day or on Mahanavami , that the observers of Navratri perform the last rituals which includes adoration of 9 girls (below the age of 12 years) by offering them red Chunri, sindoor, alata, gifts and sweets. It is then that the observers break their fast.
It is believed that each day of the Navratri specifies a particular colour symbolic to the Goddess while enchanting the slokas of Devi Durga carries the message of the triumph of good over evil. Therefore the clothes of the prescribed color are being worn before performing Puja.
YELLOW is the colour for the first day. Following Dwitiya, the eco friendly colour is GREEN. On the 3rd day their GREY colours while on Chaturthi the radiating color is ORANGE. On Panchami, the precedent colour is WHITE and on Shashthi, the favourite colour of adding beauty to women is RED. ROYAL BLUE is the dominating colour on Saptami and on Mahastami or Durgaastami it is the sweet PINK colour. For the final day of Navatri it is PURPLE.