Navratri, the festival of nine nights is celebrated in a grand manner through out the country, especially in places like Gujarat, Bengal, and other parts of North India. The festival is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her various forms. People celebrate the festival by visiting temples and offering pujas at Mothers feet. People also observe fast during the day and eat at the sunset. In some places images of Mother Durga are also placed in beautifully decorates pandals. Special arrangements for pujas and vrats are arranged on temples dedicated to Shakti to mark theses nine days as true symbol of adoration towards the divine mother and symbol of Power- Mata Durga.
Navratri in Different States of India
Navratri is celebrated in different ways through out the country. In North India Navratri is celebrated with much religious fervor. People observe fast on all the three days and worship Mother Durga who is considered to be the Goddess of Shakti, in various forms. The Dussehra of Kulu in Himachal Pradesh is a famous festival of the North. In Western India, in the state of Gujarat Navratri is one of the main festivals. People from all over the state gather to an open place and celebrate the festival by performing the famous Garba dance along with Dandiya-Raas dance. People from all over the country and even from abroad come to participate in the Navratri festival of Gujarat. It is very popular amongst the Indian communities around the world including USA and UK. In Goa also Navrati is celebrated with great religious observance and enthusiasm. A zatra begins during the Navrati and continues for a long period. The Brahmin temples are decorated and the idols are adorned with flowers, sandalwood paste, kumkum and turmeric. Devotees flock to get a special darshan and a very special Prasad known as ‘Kaul Prasad’, which is believed to be given from the Gods and Goddesses itself. In South India, people set up steps and place idols on them, which is known as golu. In Kerala three days Ashtami, Navami and Vijaya Dashami are celebrated as Saraswati Puja and books are worshipped. In Andra Pradesh people celebrate a festival known as Bathukamma over a perioed of nine days. The festival is a kind of Navratri festival.
Dandiya Raas in Navratri
Dandiya Raas is a very popular form of dance performed during Navratri. It holds a special significance in the festival of Navratri and is known for setting the mood of Navratri. Dandiya Raas is a prominent feature and an integral part of the evenings in Gujarat during Navratri. Dandiya Raas is usually a dramatization of the mock fight between the Goddess Durga and Mahishasura – the buffalo headed demon. The sticks that are used in the dance represent the sword of Durga. The dance is performed in a very graceful and rhythmic manner forming a circle.
People on the auspicious occasion of Navratri exchange gifts, sweets and greetings amongst each other. Some of the popular gifts exchanged are Idol of Maa Durga, which is considered as one of the best gifts to present on the occasion of Navratri, silver coin, calendars, dry fruit box and similar items. Another exciting gift can be a spiritual tour, ideal to be gifted to elderly parents. It can be any tour, better if a religious one, such as a tour to Vaishno Devi or similar places.
Festivals in India are incomplete without special delicacies. The festival of Navratri is celebrated for nine days and therefore a variety of dishes are made and served during the duration of the celebration. Special Navrati cuisine is a treat of the festival in the country. Navratri meals are strictly vegetarian even without the usage of onion and garlic. As people observe fast during Navratri and eat only one meal a day, Navratri meals has special courses. Some of the Navratri special courses are Aloo Khichdi, Gobhi Ke Sabzi, Boondi Ka Raita, Kaddu Ke Sabzi, Kele Ke Kofte, Saboodana Vadaa, Kottu Pakora, Singhara Ke Burfee and many more.