Navratri - The Tradition, The History, The Ritual

 

Navratri is celebrated to worship Goddess Durga and her myriad forms in all its glory.  This festival is charismatically celebrated for 9 days, dedicating each day to her 9 incarnations. Her divine blessings are sought after by devotees through prayers, fasting, religious ceremonies to honor every divine feminine aspect of “Shakti”.

 

 

When is Navratri celebrated?

 

Navratri is celebrated in the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Ashwin. It begins on 29th September this year and ends on 7th October 2019. It is celebrated over a period of 9 days, establishing the importance of various gods and goddesses to imbibe positive qualities. The 9 days of the festival culminates in Vijayadashmi or Dussehra.

 

The significance of Mahalaya

 

 

Mahalaya marks the beginning of Durga Pooja and the end of Pitru Paksha. The beauty of this day is to remember our ancestors in our prayers and perform the ritual of “ Tarpan”(offering) with gratitude. 

 

 

Mahavalya also signifies the journey of Mother Durga from Kailash to earth (her paternal home). This day is very auspicious for the Bengalis, where she is invoked with mantras at dawn on the first day of Durga Pooja. She descends on earth with her family to destroy evil, bless humans and other creatures with her divine grace.

 
 

The Festivities

 

 

The festival’s nine nights are dedicated to different aspects of the divine feminine principle or Shakti. The first third of the festival focuses on aspects of the Goddess Durga, the second third on  Goddess Lakshmi, and the final on Goddess Sarasvati. One popular ritual is Kanya Puja, which takes place on the eighth or ninth day. In this ritual, nine young girls are dressed as the nine Goddess aspects celebrated during Navratri and are worshiped with ritual foot-washing and given offerings such as food and clothing. In addition to family observances, puja, following rituals, days are also celebrated with public concerts, recitations, plays, and fairs. On the 10th day (Dussehra) Durga idols taken in jubilant processions to nearby rivers or reservoirs for immersion in water. In many regions, Dussehra is considered an auspicious time to begin educational or artistic pursuits, especially for children.

 

 

Many people observe a fast on this auspicious festival and visit temples to seek divine blessings. During the nine days, people fast in order to please the Goddess and offer prayers for the prosperity of family and business. The temples and idols of Goddess in various parts of the country are beautifully decorated. Many people break their fast either on the eighth day (Ashtami) or ninth day (Ram Navami)

 
 

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

 
 


Dussehra Traditions

 

 

Dussehra celebrations began sometime 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”.

 

Neighboring 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.

 

 

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