Navratri is a nine day-long festival which is one of the most widely celebrated Hindu festivals in India. Navratri is made up of the two words- 'nav' which means nine and 'ratri' which means night. The basic theme of Navratri is the victory of good over evil. It's a festival of worship and dance.
Typically Navratri falls in September and October, as per the Gregorian calendar. According to Hindu calendar, the festival is celebrated in the month of Ashvin. This year, Navratri begins on September 29 and ends on October 7, and the 10th day that is Vijayadashami and Dussehra falls on October 8.
Why do we celebrate Navratri?
Navaratri is celebrated for different reasons across different parts of the country. In the East and many places of Northeast India, Navratri is observed as Durga Puja, signifying the victory of Goddess Durga over demon Mahishasura. However, In the North and Western states, Navratri is celebrated differently with ‘Ram Lila’ performances and the burning of the statue of Ravana, signifying Lord Ram’s victory over. The final day of Navratri in North India is called Dussehra and in the East, Vijay Dashami.
Rituals Performed During Navratri
Over the course of the nine days, the mother goddess, Goddess Durga, is worshiped in her various forms. The worship is accompanied by fasting which takes place in the mornings. Evenings are for feasting and dancing. Each day has a different ritual associated with it. In addition, predominantly in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, there's a custom of wearing different color dresses on each day.
In Gujarat, a clay pot (garba or womb) is brought home and decorated on the first day. It's regarded as the source of life on earth and a small diya is kept in it. Women dance around the pot.
In Telangana, the goddess is worshiped in the form of Bathukamma, a floral arrangement stacked to resemble a temple tower. Women sing old folk devotional songs and take the Bathukammas out in procession to be immersed in water on the last day.