When the time demands to fight against the evil and emerge victoriously, Navratri is an honour to this power within by worshipping the three different aspects of Goddess Shakti. Prayers are offered to Goddess Durga emotionally during Navratri to pay tribute to the warrior characteristic of Goddess Devi or Shakti, who represents the energy of the universe. Goddess Durga emerged victorious fighting a long battle of the nine days with the shape-shifting, powerful and deceptive demon Mahishasura. The final 10th day called Vijayadashami honour this victory.
This was also the same day when Lord Rama slew the ten-headed demon Ravana. This astonishing victorious day is also celebrated as Dussehra.
Why is Navratri celebrated?
Navratri is the celebration of the blazing victory of good over evil. It invites the divinity in all its magnificence in our hearts by observing the rich traditions during the festival. The festival celebrates the good seasonal harvest as an acknowledgement. It commemorates our daily livelihood with the worship of the tools of our trade. It is an auspicious time to start new ventures too.
When is Navratri celebrated?
Navratri is observed in the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Ashwin. It begins on 29th September this year and ends on 7th October. It is celebrated for nine days, establishing the importance of various gods and goddesses to imbibe positive qualities. The nine days of the festival come to an end with Durga Puja and Dussehra.
How is Navratri celebrated?
The Vedic chantings are recited, temples are decorated, and ceremonial lamps are lit. Many temporary stages called “Pandals” are erected on community squares and in various temples. A pot is placed (ghatasthapana) at a sanctified place at our homes. A lamp is placed lit in the pot for nine days. The pot depicts the universe, and the uninterrupted lit lamp symbolizes the Adishakti, i.e. Durga Devi. A tradition followed during Navratri is to express gratitude from different communities as per their occupations. Their tools of livelihood are furnished with love and gathered along with the puja items to respect and worship them so that their wellbeing is continued to be bestowed in their daily bids of living. In the state of Gujarat, people celebrate Dandiya and Garba nights that add glory and colour to the festival, where worshipers dance and celebrate.
Food intake during Navratri
Some devotees fast during the nine days and nights of Navratri by taking only fruits and milk. They avoid regular preparations made with garlic, onions, and wheat as a part of their fast to have a sattvik meal. Some consume only one-time meal for the whole day.
They include diet like Kuttu Atta, use sea salt instead of the regular table salt, Sabudana Kheer, Aloo Tikki, Banana Chips, Makhane ki sabzi, Curd, Lassi, etc. in their meals
The light of Dussehra
The brightness of Dussehra is spread in the burning of the statue of Ravana, Meghanada and Kumbhakarna, as a sign of triumph over evil by Lord Rama. The blast of the fireworks announces the victory of good over evil. It also marks the end of Ramlila that is enacted brilliantly during the previous nine days to honour and live the story of Ramayana. Dussehra even starts the preparation of the festival of lights “Diwali” which would be 20 days from Dussehra.
Interesting aspects of Dussehra
Dussehra commemoration began sometime back in the 17th century on a large scale in the city of Mysore in Karnataka, on the instructions of the King of Mysore. Even now, parades of attractively embellished elephants can be seen along with the dance groups, music bands; royal identities famously called the “Jamboo Savari” and armed forces. Goddess Chamundeshwari is carried out in these parades to invite her blessings during this delightful moment.
Down South, Dussehra has a different taste of it. A line up of idols and dolls are set up like a mini-museum at home to portray mythology and our rich culture during old times. It is popularly known as “Golu”.
Neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh also observe this festival in delight. Fascinatingly, it is marked as a national holiday in Malaysia.
The lively atmosphere generated during the festival brings in waves of integrity, unity and joy. The values of our culture are strengthened, and history is kept alive through the generations.