Navratri and Dussehra

 

Feel powerful when the time demands to fight the evil, to emerge victorious. Navratri is to honour this power within by worshipping the 3 different aspects of Shakti.

 

 

Prayers are offered to Goddess Durga fervently during Navratri to commemorate the warrior aspect of Devi or Shakti, who represents the energy of the universe. Goddess Durga emerged victorious fighting the 9 days long battle with the shape-shifting, deceptive and powerful buffalo demon Mahishasura. The final 10th day called Vijayadashami, celebrates this victory.

 

This was also the day when Lord Rama slayed the 10 headed demon King Ravana. This blazing victorious day is also celebrated as Dussehra.

 

Why is Navratri celebrated?

 

 

Navratri is the joyous celebration of the victory of good over evil. It invites the divinity in all its splendour in our hearts by following the rich traditions during the festival. The festival celebrates the good seasonal harvest as a thanksgiving. It honours 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 celebrated in the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Ashwin. It begins on 21st September this year and ends on 30th September. It is celebrated over a period of 9 days, establishing the importance of various gods and goddesses to imbibe the positive qualities. The 9 days of the festival culminates in Durga Puja and Dussehra.

 

 

Significance of Navratri

 

The power of devotion is wonderfully drawn forth to adore the divine shakti in all its prowess during these 9 days of Navratri.

The first 3 days are spent worshipping Goddess Durga to introspect and defeat the vices and impurities within.

The 4th, 5th and 6th day commemorate Goddess Lakshmi who bestows spiritual wealth and prosperity for all times to come.

The 7th, 8th and the 9th day are devoted to worship Goddess Saraswati, Goddess of Wisdom to achieve all round success in life with humility.

 

 

How is Navratri celebrated?

 

 

The temples are decorated, ceremonial lamps are lit, and Vedic chantings are recited. Thousands of temporary stages called “Pandals” are erected on community squares and in temples. A pot is installed (ghatasthapana) at a sanctified place at home. A lamp is kept lit in the pot for nine days. The pot symbolises the universe. The uninterrupted lit lamp symbolizes the Adishakti, i.e. Durga Devi. Tradition followed during Navratri is to express gratitude by various communities as per their occupations. Their tools of livelihood are decorated with love and assembled along with the puja items to honour and worship them, so that prosperity is continued to be bestowed in their daily bids of living. In Gujarat, people have dandiya and garba nights that add grandeur and colour to the festival, where they dance and celebrate.

 

Food eaten during Navratri

 

Some devotees fast during the 9 days and nights of Navratri by eating only fruits and drinking milk. They avoid routine preparations made with wheat, garlic and onions as part of the fast to have a sattvik meal. Some consume only one meal a day.

 

 

They include Kuttu Atta in their meals, use sea salt instead of the regular table salt, Banana Chips, Aloo Tikki, Sabudana Kheer, Makhane ki sabzi, Curd, Lassi, etc.

To make the fasting period happier and lighter, check out the recipes of the variety of foods that are relished during the Navratri festival.

 

 



 

The light of Dussehra

 

 

Vijayadashami or Dussehra falls on 30th September this year. The brilliance of Dussehra is spread in the burning of effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghanada, as a sign of victory over evil by Lord Rama. The blast of the fireworks announce the victory of good over evil. It also marks the end of Ramlila that is enacted passionately during the previous 9 days to remember and live the story of Ramayana. Dussehra also starts the preparation of the festival of lights “Diwali” which would be 20 days from Dussehra.

 

Interesting aspects of Dussehra

 

Dussehra celebrations began some time in the 17th century on a grand scale in the city of Mysore in Karnataka, on the behest of the King of Mysore. Even today, parades of beautifully decorated elephants can be seen accompanying the music bands, dance groups, armed forces and royal identities famously called the “Jamboo Savari”. Goddess Chamundeshwari is carried out in these processions to invite her blessings during this auspicious moment.

 

 

Down South, Dussehra has a different flavour to it. An array of idols and dolls are set up like a mini museum at home to portray mythology and our rich culture during the ancient times. It is popularly called Golu”.

 

Neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal celebrate this festival in delight too. Interestingly, it is marked as a national holiday in Malaysia.

 

 

The lively atmosphere generated during the festivity brings in waves of joy, unity and integrity. The values of our culture are reinforced and history is kept alive through the generations.