Sharad Navarathri is one of the most important annual festivals celebrated with great joy and reverence by Hindus across the world. The festival holds significance as it marks the end of the monsoons and the Pitru Paksh where we first pay respects to our ancestors and the advent of the Ashwinu or the Ashwija month. This year, the festival of Sharad Navrathri or Maha Navrathri dates are from October 10, 2018 to October 19, 2018.
A festival which marks the victory of good over evil, there are two popular stories which mark the significance of this festival—One where Shakti takes the form of Durga and defeats the demon Mahishasura after a nine-day battle and kills him on the 10th day and the other story is where Lord Rama kills Ravana on the 10th of the battle and comes home victorious on Vijayadasami day.
Celebrated in different ways in different parts of the country, the Sharad Navratri lasts for nine nights and 10 days and different parts of India have different ways of celebrating the festival. For the Bengalis, the Durga Pujo 2018 is one of the most important festivals and Durga Pandals in Kolkata are something one should certainly visit. In the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan a traditional dance form called ‘Garba’ or the Dandiya Ras are performed throughout the nine days of this festival in the evening where people gather and dance to the 'Dandia' beats in a rhythmic way with a partner. In vibrant clothes women wear specific colours during each day of Navarathri adding to the festive gaiety.
Check out the Durga Puja 2018 dates, list of colours and the Nine Avatars of Goddess Durga for Navarathri 2018
For Navaratri, prayers or poojas are offered at night when the sacred energies are at their peak. Every state has its own traditional way of worshiping the Goddess either through prayers, ceremonial rituals or recitation of holy versus, bhajans or group singing. Another important aspect of this festival is fasting on all the nine days. Consumption of non vegetarian food, eggs, heavy spices, onions or garlic is strictly prohibited while a simple diet of milk, fruits, and lots of water is adhered to during the day.
A specially prepared fasting meal is usually eaten at the end of the day which is made of grains like buckwheat and water chestnut flour and certain tubers like potato and sweet potato. The fasting acts as a detox for the body during these nine days which not only cleanses the body of toxins but also raises the spiritual energies of a person.