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Rai Shyam
Sep 19, 202215 min read

Navratri | Celebrations | Customs | Traditions

One of the most cherished Hindu holidays, Navaratri is widely known every year in honour of the Mother Goddess Durga. It occurs twice, once within the months of Chaitra (March/April on the Gregorian calendar) and once in Sharada, and lasts for nine nights (and ten days). In various areas of the Hindu Indian cultural realm, it's commemorated for diverse causes and observed and celebrated in varied ways. There are four seasonal Navaratris, consistent with theory. Actually, it's Sharada Navaratri, an autumn celebration that takes place after the monsoon season. The brilliant half of the Hindu month of Ashvin, which usually falls within the Gregorian months of September and October, is when the vacation is observed. It occurs simultaneously as the Festival of the Nine Emperor Gods. The goddess Durga confronts and defeats the buffalo monster Mahishasur to assist restore dharma during Navratri, which is related to the Durga Puja in eastern and northeastern areas of India. The victory of Durga or Kali is commemorated in southern states. The struggle and triumph of excellence over evil, supported by a locally well-known epic or legend like the Devi Mahatmya, is the unifying theme in each case.

Navratri India

Celebrations:

Nine goddesses are worshipped over the course of nine days, stage decorations are used, the mythology is recited, the drama is acted out, and Hindu scriptures are chanted. The nine days also are a significant crop season cultural festival, with activities including pandal design and staging competitions, family visits to those pandals, and public performances of Hindu dances from both classical and traditional traditions. Navaratri is usually observed by Hindu believers through fasting. The statues are either burned with fireworks to symbolize the defeat of evil on Judgment Day, referred to as Vijayadashami, or they're submerged in a body of water, sort of a river or the ocean. Additionally, during this point, Diwali (the festival of lights), which is observed twenty days later, is being prepared for.

Dates:

The Shakta and Vaishnava Puranas, two Hindu books, claim that Navaratri occurs twice or fourfold a year. The Vasanta Navaratri near the vernal equinox (March–April) is the next most significant to the culture of the Indian subcontinent after the Sharada Navaratri, which falls near the autumn equinox (September–October). Navaratri always occurs during the sunshine half of a Hindu lunisolar month. Regional differences within the festivities leave a lot to the Hindus' ingenuity and personal preferences.

Navaratri Sharada:

Of the four Navaratri, which are named after the autumnal Sharada, Navaratri is the most widely observed. The primary day (pratipada) of the brilliant fortnight of the Ashvini lunar month marks the beginning of the event. Once a year, during this month, which usually occurs within the Gregorian months of September and October, the festival is observed for nine nights. The Hindu calendar is used to determine the festival's exact dates, and counting on how the sun, moon, and intercalary year are adjusted, the event may occasionally last at some point longer or one day shorter. The event takes place in many locations following the autumn harvest, but in others, it occurs during harvest. Beyond goddess Durga and other deities like Saraswati and Lakshmi, celebrations are held. Regionally revered deities include Ganesha, Kartikeya, Shiva, and Parvati. As an example, worshipping Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of education, learning, music, and therefore the arts, through Ayudha Puja may be a noteworthy pan-Hindu custom observed during Navratri. Peace and knowledge are honoured on today, which normally falls on the ninth day of Navaratri. Warriors pray to Saraswati while praising, decorating, and worshipping their weapons. Instruments are maintained, played, and prayed for by musicians. all types of craftsmen, including farmers, carpenters, smiths, potters, shop owners, et al., similarly decorate and revere their tools, machinery, and equipment. Students attend to their instructors to thank them and ask for their blessings.

Magha Navaratri:

The Magha lunar month is when Magha Navaratri is celebrated (January–February). Gupt (secret) Navaratri is another name for this festival. The fifth day of this festival is frequently marked separately as Vasant Panchami or Basant Panchami, the Hindu calendar's first day of spring, when the goddess Saraswati is honoured through the arts, including writing, music, and kite flying. The Hindu god of love, Kama, is adored in various areas. Magha Navaratri is observed locally or privately by people.

Ashta Navaratri:

Ashada Navaratri often referred to as Gupta Navaratri, is celebrated during the beginning of the monsoon season in the lunar month of Ashadha (June–July). Regionally or privately, Ashada Navaratri is observed.

Navratri Chaitra:

The second-most popular Navratri is Chaitra Navratri, also known as Vasantha Navaratri and named for the springtime god Vasanta. It is observed in the Chaitra lunar month (March–April). The event is held in honour of the goddess Durga, who is worshipped daily in one of her nine forms. Rama's birthday, Rama Navami, falls on the final day. Some people also refer to it as Rama Navaratri because of this. The event takes place in several locations after the spring harvest, while in others it occurs during harvest. According to the Vikram Samvat calendar, it also denotes the start of the Hindu lunisolar calendar, often known as the Hindu Lunar New Year.

Regional customs:

In India, Navaratri is observed in a variety of ways. Different parts of Durga are revered by different people, and some people fast while others feast. Ram Navami marks the end of the Chaitra Navratri, whereas Durga Puja and Vijayadashami mark the end of the Sharada Navaratri. Shakta Hinduism once recited Durga's legends at Chaitra Navratri, but this custom has been dwindling as we approach the spring equinox. The main holiday and one observed by the majority of modern Hindus is Navaratri, which falls around the autumnal equinox. The term Navaratri conjures up images of Durga Puja in the form of the warrior goddess aspect of Devi for Bengali Hindus and Shakta Hinduism living outside of eastern and northeastern Indian states. The term Navaratri connotes the commemoration of various Hindu holidays in other cultures. The phrase "Navaratri" refers to a celebration of Durga in various Hindu traditions, but in her more serene guises, such as Saraswati, the goddess of learning, music, and other arts. Navaratri, also known as Dashain in Nepal, is a significant yearly homecoming and family celebration that honours relationships between adults and children through Tika Puja as well as those between members of the same family and the wider community.

Nepal, West Bengal, and Eastern India:

During Navratri, there are numerous Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata. In West Bengal, Navaratri is also known as the Durga Puja celebration. In eastern and northeastern states of India, where it dominates religious life, it is the most significant annual festival for Bengali Hindus and a significant social and civic occasion. In West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, eastern Nepal, Assam, Tripura, and neighbouring areas, tens of thousands of pandals (temporary stages) are constructed in public squares, wayside shrines, and sizable Durga temples to commemorate the festival. Some Shakta Hindus also celebrate it privately at their homes. The celebration of Durga Puja commemorates the goddess Durga's victory over the formidable, guileful, and shape-shifting buffalo monster Mahishasura. Mahalaya, a day on which Shakta Hindus commemorate the birth of the warrior goddess Durga as well as the passing of loved ones who have passed away, marks the start of the celebration. 

Durga Puja

The local community welcomes the goddess Durga and begins joyful celebrations on Shashthi, the next significant Durga Puja day. Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha, and Kartikeya are honoured on the seventh (Saptami), eighth (Ashtami), and ninth (Navami) days. These days are the primary Puja (worship) days, during which scriptures, Durga tales from the Devi Mahatmya, and family outings to pandals and temples are recited. The tenth day, also known as Vijayadashami, is marked by a large procession in which clay idols of Durga are solemnly carried to an ocean or river's edge. Many people wear red clothing or apply vermilion (sindooram) to their faces. Some followers are having a difficult day, and the congregation performs tearful farewell songs. Hindus visit friends and relatives and give out sweets and gifts after the procession.

North India:

Navratri is celebrated in North India with a plethora of Ramlila activities, in which artists perform scenes from the Rama and Ravana narrative in rural and urban areas, within temples, or on makeshift stages. In 2008, UNESCO listed this Hindu practice of festive performing arts as an example of the "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity." According to UNESCO, the celebrations involve music, storytelling, recitals, and debate based on Tulsidas's translation of the Hindu book Ramcharitmanas. The historically significant Hindu cities of Ayodhya, Varanasi, Vrindavan, Almora, Satna, and Madhubani—located in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh—stand out in particular for this. Hundreds of tiny towns and villages arrange the festival and dramatic retelling of the tale, which draws a diverse audience from various social, gender, and economic backgrounds. The crowd and locals frequently join in and take part impromptu, some aiding the performers and others setting up the stage, creating make-up, effigies, and lighting. Navaratri has long been a significant ritual celebration for rulers and the armed forces of a country. The effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna, and Indrajit are burned on Dussehra, which follows Navaratri, to commemorate Rama's victory over evil.

Navratri

The festival of Navaratri is also a time to enjoy a meal with loved ones. In some places, the goddess Durga's battle against deceit and evil is remembered during this religious celebration. A pot is placed (Ghatasthapana) in a sacred area in the house. For nine days, a lamp is kept burning in the pot. The universe is represented by the pot, and Durga is represented by the lamp that is always lit.

Bihar:

Durga is revered in some areas of Bihar during Navaratri in the fall. A tonne of pandals is created. Along with Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartikey, and Ganesha, Durga is worshipped in Bihar. A sizable Rama Navami fair, which commemorates the birth of Lord Rama, is held during the spring Navaratri in places like Sitamarhi and near the Nepalese border. It is the biggest cattle trading fair and draws huge markets for pottery, culinary and home goods, as well as ethnic clothes. At the neighbourhood Hindu temple, which is devoted to Sita, Hanuman, Durga, and Ganesha, festive performances and celebrations are held.

Navaratri Bihar

Gujarat:

One of the major celebrations in Gujarat is Gujarat Navratri. For each of the nine days of the traditional celebrations, one of the nine attributes of the Shakti goddess is remembered by fasting for a day or only consuming liquids. The prayers are offered to a garbo, a symbolic clay pot that represents the womb of the family and the universe. The lighted clay pot is thought to represent the single Atman. Performance art is used to commemorate the importance of the nine days in Gujarat and adjacent Hindu communities like Malwa. The most prominent are devotional songs, seasonal raga, and group dances called Garba performed by to live orchestra. Folk dance is in which participants of various backgrounds and abilities unite to form concentric circles. 

Navaratri Gujarat

The circles can get bigger or smaller, with hundreds or thousands of people clapping and dancing in circular motions while dressed traditionally. Dandiyas (sticks), coordinated dances, hitting of sticks, and gender-specific taunting are all occasionally used in the Garba dance. Following the dancing, the group and the audience mingle and share a meal. The same themed festival of local songs, music and dances takes place locally.

Goa:

On the first day of the Hindu month of Ashwin, nine different types of food grains are deposited within a copper pitcher that is encased by clay in the sanctum sanctorum of the Devi and Krishna temples in Goa. Religious speeches and devotional songs are used to commemorate the nine nights. Folk musical instruments are performed by visiting artists. The Durga picture is placed in a colourful silver swing called a Makhar for celebration, and for each of the nine nights, she is swung to the sound of temple music (called as ranvadya). Locally, this is known as Makharotsav. The makhar arti, a significant celebration, is held on the final night of the Goa Navratri festival.

Navratri Goa

Karnataka:

Navratri is celebrated in Karnataka at home, as well as at Hindu temples, historical places, and during numerous regal processions. Dasara, or Nadahabba as it is known locally, is the state celebration of Karnataka. The Mysuru Dasara is a significant holiday that is well-known for its festivities among the many others. King Raja Wodeyar I's efforts in 1610 are credited with starting the modern Dasara celebrations in Mysore. The royal sword is revered and carried in a procession of decked elephants and horses on the ninth day of Dasara, known as Mahanavami. Additionally, Saraswati is honoured during the Ayudha Puja, during which military troops maintain their weapons and families maintain their means of subsistence while simultaneously praying to Saraswati, Parvati, and Lakshmi. 

Navratri Karnataka

The customary Dasara parade is staged in the streets of Mysore on Vijayadashami, the day after Navratri. A parade featuring tableaux, dance troupes, music bands, decked elephants, horses, and camels is led by a figure of the Goddess Chamundeshwari mounted on a golden saddle (hauda). Another Navratri custom in Karnataka is to decorate a room in your house with Gombe or Bombe art dolls, which are comparable to Golu dolls from Tamil Nadu. The ceremony also includes a Gaarudi Gombe with an art theme that includes folk dances that include these dolls.

Kerala:

In Kerala, the three Sharada Navaratri days (Ashtami, Navami, and Vijayadashami) are observed as the Saraswati Puja, during which books are worshipped. For Ashtami Puja, the books are placed in the owners' homes, conventional daycare centres, or temples. After worshipping Sarasvati on Vijayadashami, the books are ceremoniously removed for reading and writing. Writing and reading instruction for kids is known as Vidyarambham, and it is traditionally introduced on Vijayadashami. The beginning of the Vidyarambham day custom involves the infant or young child sitting on the lap of a senior, such as a grandfather, close to statues of Saraswati and Ganesha. The younger person uses his or her index finger to write a letter, and the child follows suit.

Maharashtra:

Even though they are known by the same name and are devoted to the same deity, Navaratri celebrations vary amongst parts of Maharashtra and the particular rites vary as well. The most popular festival starts with Ghatasthapana, which literally translates to "mounting of a jar," on the first day of Navaratri. On this day, rural households place a little mound of rice preserved on a wooden stool beneath a copper or brass jar filled with water (pat). Other agricultural symbols are generally placed in the jar, including a turmeric root, mango tree leaves, a coconut, and significant staple grains (usually eight varieties). During the nine nights of Navratri, a lamp is lit to represent wisdom and household prosperity and maintained burning.The family worships the pot for nine days by performing rituals, adorning it with a naivedya and a garland made of flowers, leaves, fruits, dry fruits, etc. Water is also donated to help the seeds sprout. Along with Ghatasthapana, some families also observe Kali puja on days 1 and 2, Laxmi puja on days 3, 4, and 5, and Saraswati puja on days 6, 7, and 8. A "Yajna '' or "Hom" is carried out in honour of Goddess Durga on the eighth day. On the ninth day, the Ghat puja is conducted, and the Ghat is then disassembled after the sprouted grains' leaves have been removed. On the fifth day of the celebration, adoration is offered to the goddess Lalita. Men participate in the worship of various tools, weapons, vehicles, and productive instruments on the ninth day of the festival.

Tamil Nadu:

Tamil Nadu has a long history of celebrating Navaratri, which centres on the deities Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Durga. The festival, much like the rest of India, has served as a platform for performing art, especially Hindu temple dances like Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam. Dance halls are incorporated into grand mansions, community facilities, and ancient temples. For instance, the Padmanabhapuram Palace, which was constructed in 1600 CE, featured a sizable dance hall with elaborately carved stone pillars. Navaratri Mantapa is the traditional name for this dance hall. Vedic hymns open the celebrations, kicking off the dances and other rites. The Navaratri celebrations are also observed in other Tamil Hindu temples, such as those connected to Sri Vaishnavism. Celebration of the holiday with Golu dolls is another notable Tamil custom (also spelt as Gollu). These small representations of rural life, animals, birds, and deities include gods and goddesses. In their houses, people create their own unique themes known as Kolu. Friends and family are invited to examine each other's Kolu displays before exchanging gifts and sweets. 

Navratri Tamil Nadu

This custom is practised in other regions of South India as well, including Andhra Pradesh where it is known as Bommala Koluvu and Karnataka where it is known as Gombe Habba or Gombe thotti. Evidence of the Gombe Thotti custom as a Hindu celebration of artisanal arts dates at least to the Vijayanagara Empire in the fourteenth century. The Navaratri Kolu for that year comes to an end in the evening of Vijayadashami when any doll from the "Kolu '' is symbolically put to sleep and the Kalasa is shifted little to the north. The family concludes the display with a prayer of gratitude. Navratri is celebrated in Tamil Nadu temples in honour of Durga's residence there. Vedic chantings are carried out, the temples are decked, and ceremonial lamps are burned. Some of these temples' priests and guests don wristbands made of a unique yellow "promise of protection" thread known as kappu (Tamil) or Raksha Bandhan (Sanskrit).

Telangana:

As in the rest of India, Telangana celebrates Navratri, which concludes with Dasara. A significant Telangana ritual involves Telugu Hindu ladies who create Bathukamma for Navratri goddesses throughout the Navaratri evenings. It is a creatively decorated occasion with flowers, especially marigolds, which honour three different facets of Devi, or Tridevi. One of the largest joyful floral arrangements in the world, 20 feet high, was made in 2016 by 9,292 women working in tandem. A day before Navaratri begins, on the Mahalaya Amavasya (Pitru Amavasya), Bathukamma celebrations will begin. The primary deity is goddess Gowri, a manifestation of goddess Durga, who is represented by an idol made of turmeric powder and set atop a bathukamma floral arrangement.The celebration will go for nine nights and feature women spinning around the bathukamma while clapping their hands or sticks and singing rhythmic songs that depict everyday life for women as well as the Ramayana, Shiva, Gowri, and Ganga legends. Every night, bathukamma is submerged in surrounding water sources, and the next morning, a fresh bathukamma is created. Durgashtami, when Durga is thought to be worshipped in the form of Maha Gowri, marks the conclusion of this nine-night celebration. Hindus in Telangana celebrate Ayudha Puja, much like they do throughout the rest of India, by maintaining, adorning, and worshipping their weapons. Farmers and craftspeople both maintain, adorn, and venerate their own tools of the trade. Grand feasts are planned with family and friends for Dussehra (Vijayadashami), which falls on the tenth day.

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