Navratri Festival :
| YA DEVI SARVABHUTESU SHAKTIRUPEN SAMSTHITA |
|| NAMASTASYE NAMASTASYENAMASTASYE NAMO NAMAH ||
Meaning: I pray to the divine goddess who resides in all existence in the form of energy.
‘Nav’ means ‘nine’ and ‘ratri’ means ‘night’. Thus, ‘Navratri’ means ‘Nine Nights’. There are many legends attached to the conception of Navratri like all Indian festivals. All of them are related to Goddess Shakti and her various forms. It is one of the most celebrated festivals of Hindu calendar, it holds special significance for Gujaratis and Bengalis and one can see it in the zeal and favour of the people with which they indulge in the festive activities of the season. Dandiya and GarbaRass are the highlights of the festival in Gujarat, while farmer sow seeds and thank the Goddess for her blessings and pray for better yield. In older times, Navratri was associated with the fertility of Mother Earth who feed us as her children.
The beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn are considered to be important junctions of climatic and solar influences. These two periods are taken as sacred opportunities for the worship of the Divine Mother Durga. The dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar. Onwhich each women follow tradition to wear nine colours of dress on Navaratri.
Navratri represents a celebration of the Goddess Durga, the manifestation of Deity in forms of Shakti (Energy or Power). Night indicates ‘switch over in the process’ Earth’s basic nature is to rotate. Due to this rotation, changes like night and day occur. Vowed observances (Vrat) help the body adjust to the changes. To reduce the tama component, Goddess Mahakali is worshiped during the first 3 days of Navaratri. In the next 3 days Raj predominant Goddess Mahalaxmi is worshiped to increase the Raja component. And during the last 3 days of NavratriSattva predominant Goddess MahaSarasswati is worshiped to increase the intensity of our spiritual practice. That is the reason, this festival is known as Navratri.
The Navratri commences on the first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashwin. The festival is celebrated for nine nights once every year during the beginning of October, although as the dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar, the festival may be held for a day less.
- Pratipada: GhatasthapanaShailputriPujan
- Dwitiya: Chandra DarshanBrahmachariPujan
- Saptami:Saraswati Puja KalaratriPujan
- Ashtami:DurgaAshtamiMahagauriPujanSandhi Puja, MahaAshtami
- Navmi:Ayudha Puja DurgaVisarjan
It is a tradition to dance before the goddess during the nine days of Navratri. This dance is known as ‘Garba’. On the first night of the ‘Navratri’, small and big earthen pots with tiny holes are kept one on the top of the other in front of the idol of ‘Devi’. The earthen pot on top is crowned with an earthen lamp with four wicks which are always kept lit. People dance around these pots. During the dance songs are sung in praise of different goddesses like Amba, Kalika, Randalma etc. ‘Garbo’ is derived from the word garbo (meaning womb). Symbolically, the Divine mothers’ energy is worshiped by instilling a lamp in an earthen pot with tiny holes. As a symbol of procreation the Deepagarbha is worshiped for 9 days. With passage of time, the word deep Deepagarbha was shortened and only the words garbhagarbo or garba became prevalent.
The day after Navratri i.e. the 10th day after Ashwina, is Dussera which celebrates the victory of lord Rama over Ravana. Ravana is burnt in effigy, often giant dummies of Ravana stuffed with fireworks are shot with arrows until they blow up before a large, applauding audience. The tenth day, Dashera, also known as Vijyadashami in South India, is celebrated by doing a puja to bless one’s vehicle, and is also the day to buy new vehicles, if necessary. It’s also celebrated, probably after getting up far later usual, by unabashedly eating lots of fafada, a salty fried crunchy snack and jalebi, a sweet fried sticky snack.