Navratri is a festival dedicated to the Goddess Durga. The word 'Nav' - means nine and 'ratri' - nights in Sanskrit, which literally translates into 9 nights of worshiping Durga. There are 9 forms of Durga that are worshiped during the 9 days of Navratri.
Navratri is an occasion that is celebrated all over India but may be celebrated in a different manner. Primarily Navratri is celebrated by fasting for 9 days and breaking the fast on the 10th day which is referred to as Vijyalaxmi or Dusherra. Also, in the northern part of India Dusherra is celebrated as it is said to be a victory of good over evil.
There are a total of 5 Navratri’s that happen in a year however, the one that occurs right before Navratri is referred to as Sharad Navratri – or the Maha Navratri (Great Navratri).
In the Northern part - Punjab, Navratri is celebrated by fasting for 7 out of the 9 days. On the eight day, the fast is broken feeding young girls (not married), who are considered and treated as goddesses.
In the east, particularly the state of West Bengal, the last four days of Navratri are celebrated on a large scale known as Durga Puja. This is the biggest celebration in the east. This consists of worship of handcrafted and handmade clay idols of the Goddess Durga. These idols are worshiped for five days and immersed in the river on the fifth day.
In the state of Gujarat, Navratri is celebrated with the dance of “Garba” which is performed every night after Pooja (prayers). It is the most popular one as it involves Garba and Dandiya.
In Maharashtra, during Navratri an earthen pot is filled with water and surrounded by clay in which food grains are sown and sprouted for the 9 days. This earthen pot is referred to as ‘Ghat’ Women worship the pot for the 9 days. After the 9th day, Ghat is dissolved and the leaves are taken off the grans before dissolving the Ghat.
In Tamil Nadu, people set up steps and place idols on them, this process is known as golu. In the evening hours women in the neighborhood invite and visit each other to visit their homes to view the golu displays. They exchange gifts and sweets.
Please note, that what I have stated here is based upon my understanding and research. If something is miss-stated, please correct it by commenting on this blog as my knowledge is limited. I will correct it.
My next post will be about Garba and Dandiya and the derivation of the terms and the dance.
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