Navaratri is a Hindu festival that lasts nine nights and marks the auspicious days on the lunar calendar. The festival celebrated across India, is centred on worshipping the nine forms of the female goddess Shakti. The festival is celebrated with different allegories across the country and is a significant festival involving several rituals.
Navaratri is typically celebrated in September or October and is observed by Hindus of all denominations. During the festival, Hindus perform puja (worship) and offer prayers to the goddess Durga. Many people also fast during Navaratri, abstaining from certain foods or activities to show devotion and seek blessings from the goddess.
Navaratri's most notable features are the Garba and Dandiya Raas dance performances that take place during the festival. These dances are performed in honour of the goddess Durga and involve colourful, traditional costumes and intricate footwork. Navaratri is also marked by the display of beautiful clay idols of the goddess Durga in homes and temples, which are worshipped and adorned with flowers and other offerings.
What is Navratri and its rituals?
Navratri in Sanskrit translates to “Nav,” nine, and “Ratri,” which means nights. Although there is a lot of diversity in how different communities celebrate the festival, this is generally how it goes:
1st to 3rd Day: The first three days are dedicated to Durga, the goddess of energy and power. Invoking Durga is to destroy vices and impurities in the lives of people.
4th to 6th day: The next three days are dedicated to worshipping Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, who is believed to bestow worshippers with inexhaustible wealth.
7th and 8th day: These two days are for worshipping Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and wisdom.
9th day: The last ritual day is the “Kanya puja,” where nine young girls representing different forms of the goddess Durga are worshipped.
Significance of Navratri
Many legends are associated with Navratri, and the most widely accepted one is the battle between the goddess Durga and the demon Mahishasura. Symbolically, the demon represents egotism, which must be destroyed to attain the ultimate spiritual goal: salvation. The festival mainly celebrates the victory of good over evil, and each day has a specific colour that the devotees in the festivities have to wear.
The choice of the festival coincides with the period that falls between spring and autumn in the rainy season. It is a significant festival in the western states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. Garba is performed in Gujarat.
Navratri Date in 2023
In 2023, the Navratri festival will start on Thursday, the 15th of October, and end on Friday, the 24th of October. The Sharad Navratri festival commences on the first and ends on the tenth day of the lunar month named Ashwin.
The most common form of dance similar to the Garba is the Dandiya. Women and girls dressed in Garba attire are invited to the dance event, where they pair up with other women or men and dance with decorated bamboo sticks called Dandiya. This complicated dance form goes on for hours and is one of the most fun parts of the festival.
The Navratri celebrations are always highlighted with a spread of food involving a variety of dishes and desserts. The food items are strictly vegetarian and involve well-known items such as Samosas, Mutter Panner, Jeera Rice, Chole, and desserts such as Kheer, Jamoons, Rasgullas, and many more.
Gifts are also a significant part of the celebrations. Relatives and friends exchange coins made out of precious metals with sacred inscriptions on them. The children get toys and even firecrackers, which add to the excitement of the celebration. Jewellery, accessories, and fine clothing are often exchanged between family members. Gifts in glassware, idols, and decorative items are also offered to guests who attend the celebrations.
Celebration of Navratri 2023 across India
North India: Here, Navratri is celebrated as the victory of Lord Rama over the evil Ravana. The stories from the epic are often reenacted as entertainment, and even the effigies of the bad characters are set on fire in celebratory ceremonies. Exchanging gifts with close friends and neighbours and even acts of charity is also a highlight.
Western India: The celebrations are just as extravagant in the western part of India, especially in states like Gujarat and Maharashtra, where people are fond of their traditional dance Garba. Garba, which translates to the womb, symbolises life within and rejuvenation. The Garba is a graceful dance form where the women move around in circles around a central pot and lamp.
Eastern India: Durga puja is a significant component of Navratri in this part of the country. The goddess Durga is worshipped for prosperity and protection. Processions with the goddesses’ idols are a common sight.
South India: South India has a unique way of celebrating Navratri by making the “Kolu,” an exhibition of figurines and dolls. The city of Mysore in Karnataka is world-famous for its Navratri celebration, also called Dasara. The Ayudha Puja is another unique feature where people revere machinery, tools, and instruments for their usefulness in daily life.
With schools and offices closed for the festival, Navratri is also time for a great vacation with the family. Going to your favourite place can be as easy as booking a bus ticket online on the redBus app and, after that, a refreshing journey. Choose the bus operator and convenient dates, times, and pick-up points so your trip can be just as enjoyable as your destination.