Navaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated for a span of 9 nights and 10 days. Nava means nine and ratri means night. Hence the name Navaratri. A lesser known fact about Navaratri is that it occurs 4 times in our Hindu calendar. Chaitra, Magh, Ashad and Sharad. However the one during post monsoon, ‘Sharad Navaratri’ is what’s celebrated among all Hindus.
WHY DO WE CELEBRATE NAVARATRI
There are various legends as to why Navaratri is celebrated. One of which is battle between goddess Durga and demon Mahishasura. It was for 9 nights and 10 days where 10th day is celebrated as Vijay Dashami( Victory)(10th Day). Goddess Durga is amalgamation of the holy trinity Bramha, Vishnu, Shiva. Demon Mahishasura is known as a buffalo demon having the evil spirit of shape shifting. Another legend says it was victory of lord Rama over Ravana after a long battle and so is Dussehra. Majority of North and western India celebrates this ocassion. On 9 days of Navaratri, 9 incarnations of goddess as follows: Shailaputri, Bramhacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri and Durga.
HOW IS NAVARATRI CELEBRATED IN DIFFERENT STATES OF INDIA
Navaratri is celebrated in different ways in different states of India. But if we have to point out common rituals performed they are observing fast, doing pooja, offering prasad to young girls(kumarika), visiting friends, families and exchanging sweets.
In Bengal, big pandals are set up with different themes of Navaratri and 9 nights of Goddess Durga battling against Mahishasura. Pooja rituals are performed by the priest for 4 continue days and on Dashami that is 10th day, the goddess is bid farewell with great pomp and show. The same rituals are followed in Assam.
Navaratri is biggest festival of Gujarat. Many devotees observe fast, play dandiya, garba(traditional Gujarati dance) and kumarika are fed usually on asthami. Here Ambamata is worshipped with great faith. Similar is the tradition in Rajasthan.
In Tamil Nadu, there is a tradition to display generation to generation passed down wooden dolls on display. This ritual is known as Golu. Along with that relatives visit each other exchanging appropriate gifts.
In Punjab goddess Durga is faithfully worshipped by performing jagrans and all other rituals are performed in Punjab too.
The poojas and customs are bit different in Andhra Pradesh. It is known as Bathukamma Panduga. In this young girls seek blessing in terms of connubial. Women create a garland of flowers considering the importance of each day of Navaratri and on the 10th day that is Vijay Dashami.
In Chattisgarh, the tribe of Bastar are famed for their second to none celebration of Navartri. They dedicate this festival to goddess Danteshwari. Their rituals start from no moon day of Shravan till the 13th day of Ashwin month. This period is roughly around July to September. The temple of this goddess is one of powerful shakti peeth present.
Karnataka has the most pompous celebration of Vijaya Dashami. They observe Lords Rama’s victory here. The victory of good over evil has a lot of important in Karnataka. Particularly in Mysore which got it’s name from Mahishasura itself. On Vijaya Dashami Mysore is decorated similar to bride. There are fairs everywhere, elephants are ornamented and people gather on large grounds to view Ravan dahan.
In Maharashtra, Ghatasthapana is performed. Kalash or pot is filled with holy water and barley seeds are grown, the surrounding of this arrangements are decorated and a diya is kept lit continuosly for 10 days. Women arrange haldi kumkum ceremony, relatives exchange sweets and seek blessings of goddess Durga and her incarnations. The day of Vijay Dashami also called as Dasara is considered extremely auspicious and known as one of three sade tin muhurats present. On the day of Dussehra all instruments, devices are worshipped and leaves of Bauhinia racemosa tree also known as aptyachi pane (sona) are exchanged among relatives. This symbolises gold distributed by the warriors of their victory.
To conclude, Navaratri is an important festival for Hindu community. Various prominent events have taken place during these days and are celebrated with lot of joy and faith.