Navaratri is a Hindu festival that lasts for nine nights and marks the auspicious days on the lunar calendar. The festival, which is celebrated all across India, is centered on worshipping the nine forms of the female goddess Shakti. The festival is celebrated with different allegories across the country and is a major festival involving several rituals.
What Navratri is and its rituals
Navratri in Sanskrit translates to “Nav,” which is 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 day of the ritual is the “kanya puja,” where nine young girls who represent different forms of the goddess Durga are worshipped.
Significance of Navratri
There are many legends 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 has to be destroyed for the attainment of the ultimate spiritual goal: salvation. The festival mainly celebrates the victory of good over evil, and each day has a specific color associated with it that the devotees who are in the festivities have to wear.
The choosing of the time of the festival also coincides with the period that falls between spring and autumn in the rainy season. This period is viewed as an auspicious time to worship the goddess Durga, and its dates are set as per the lunar calendar. It is a major festival in the western states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. An all-important traditional dance called Garba is performed in the state of Gujarat.
Navratri Date in 2021
In 2021, the Navratri festival will start on 7th October, Thursday and will end on 15th October, Friday. This is the Sharad Navratri festival that commences on the first and ends on the tenth day of the lunar month named Ashwin.
The most common form of dance that is 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 major 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. Jewelry, accessories, and fine clothing are often exchanged between members of the family. Gifts in the form of glassware, idols, and decorative items are also offered to guests who attend the celebrations.
Celebration of Navratri 2021 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 evil characters are set on fire in celebratory ceremonies. Exchanging gifts with close friends and neighbors 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, is symbolic of 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 the major 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 to celebrate Navratri by making the “Kolu,” which is basically an exhibition of figurines and dolls. The city of Mysore in the state of Karnataka is world-famous for its Navratri celebration, where it is 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 favorite place can be as easy as booking a bus ticket online on the redBus app and being thereafter a refreshing journey. Choose the bus operator of your choice and convenient dates, time, and pick up points so your journey can be just as enjoyable as your destination.