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NAVRATRI

Navratri is a Hindu festival of worship and dance. The word Navaratri means nine nights in Sanskrit, nava meaning 'nine' and ratri meaning 'nights'. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Devi are worshipped.

SIGNIFICANCE

The beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn are two very important period of climatic and solar influence. These two periods are taken as sacred opportunities for the worship of the Goddess. The dates of the festival are got according to the lunar calendar. Being the oldest religion in the world, Hinduism has numerous belief.

In Hinduism followers worship Her/Him in any of the numerous manifestations that are prevalent all over India. Navaratri represents celebration of Goddess Durga, the appearance of Deity in form of Shakti. Dasahara, meaning ‘ten days’. The Navaratri festival or ‘nine day festival’ becomes ‘ten day festival’ with the addition of the last day, Vijayadashami.

TRADITION OF NAVRATRI

  1. Vasanta Navaratri -also known as 'Vasant Navratras' is the festival of nine days dedicated to the 'nine forms of Shakti'. It is also known as 'Chaitra Navratra'. The nine days of festival is also known as 'Raama Navratr'i.
     
  2. Gupta Navaratri -also called as 'Ashadha or Gayatri' is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti.
     
  3. Sharana Navaratri - This is the most important of the Navratris, and is simply called 'Maha Navratri' and is celebrated in the month of Ashvina. Also known as 'Sharad Navaratri', as it is celebrated during Sharad.
     
  4. Poushya Navaratri - is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti, observed during the 'Pousha Shukla Paksha'.
     
  5. Magha Navaratri - also referred as 'Gupta Navratri', is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti. Magha Navaratri is observed during the 'Magha Shukla Paksha'.


FINAL DAYS

On this tenth day of Navratri- the holiday of Dussehra, a miniature of Ravana is burnt to celebrate the victory of good over evil. Some devotees of Durga observe a fast and prayers are offered for the protection of health and prosperity.

During this, a pot is installed at 'mandir' at home, a lamp is kept lit in the pot for nine days. The pot symbolizes the universe. The uninterrupted lit lamp is the medium through which we worship the gods and goddess.

Navratri is celebrated in a large number of Indian communities. The mother goddess is said to appear in 9 forms. The 'Devi Mahatmya' and other texts invoking the Goddess who vanquished demons are showed.
During the eight or ninth day, Kanya Poojan, girls are ceremonially worshiped.

KANYA PUJA

Kanya puja, is a Hindu festival celebrated on the eighth and ninth day of Navaratri. Nine young girls representing the nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshiped.It is a custom to wash the feet of these girls as a mark of respect for the Goddess and then offer new clothes as gifts.

There is also chanting of mantras. The girl is made to seat on a special pedestal. She is worshiped by offering ‘akshat‘ (rice grains) and by burning incense sticks. She is worshipped because, according to the philosophy of ‘Striyah Samastastava Devi Bhedah’, women symbolize ‘Mahamaya‘ (The goddess Durga). Even among these a girl child is considered to be the purest, because of her innocence.

Hinduism believes in the universal creator to be a feminine gender. The inspiration is the life force of the entire creation. Navratra deity Durga and all her dimensions are believed to be basic inspiration.

Thus, a virgin girl is the symbol of the pure creative force according to this philosophy.

If the worshiper is desires knowledge then he should worship a Brahmin girl child. If he wants power, then should worship a Kshatriya-girl child, if he desires of acquiring wealth and prosperity, then a girl child belonging to a Vaishya family should be worshipped. If a person is desires Tantrik-power, then he should worship a shudra-girl-child.

Kanya puja as a part of Devi worship is to recognise the feminine power vested in the girl child and to give them as much importance in the social fabric as the so called heir apparents (boys) who are otherwise known to be pampered.

Devi is essentially a worship of the great feminine. In a kanya the great feminine potential is at its peak. having developed into a girl of a certain age and before attaining puberty, a female child is considered the most auspicious and the most clear minded and clear souled individual.

CELEBRATION ACROSS INDIA

Navratri is celebrated all over India with a lot of excitement and togetherness. The essence of this festival lies in faith and glorification of the nine aspects of Durga, one on each of the nine days.
Houses are painted and cleaned and new idols of gods and goddess are installed in the prayer rooms.

Throughout India, Navratri is celebrated in many ways. The celebrations highlight the culturally rich aspect of India.

Bengal
In Bengal, Navratri calls for a celebration for five days. It is the most important festival of the Bengalis. The city looks beautiful with auspicious signs and freshness. Celebrations heighten as ‘dhakis’ beat traditional drums in houses. The festivity starts from Bodhon or Mahashashti or the sixth day of the festival to the visarjan (immersion) of the clay idol on the tenth day. Bengalis regale in the festival by buying new clothes, jewellery and visiting pandals.

Gujarat
The Gujaratis worship Amba Mataji, (incarnation of Goddess Durga.) They celebrate the festival performing Garba or dandia-ras, a form of folk-dance.

It is an important festival associated with harvest and crops, so it is linked to agricultural rites.

Kashmir
In Kashmir, Hindus celebrate Navratri in a stately manner. Devotees fast for nine days on water and perform puja at home. Here, dance and music is avoided as believers devote time in prayer and contemplation of the Goddess.
At some places, barley is grown in earthen pots. It is believed that if the growth of barley is good, then the year would bring luck, peace and prosperity.

Maharashtra
Maharashtra celebrates Navratri with great fun and the puja is performed daily by adorning the deity with fresh garland on each of the nine days. On the tenth day, the garlands are removed and the idol is immersed in the sea. People invite young girls, who have not attained puberty to their house and offer them food


Punjab
In Punjab, fasts are strictly observed during Navratri. Some people live on milk for seven days and break their fast on Ashtami (eighth day) or Navmi (ninth day). Goddess Durga is worshipped and pujas are performed at home. Non-vegetarian food and liquor is avoided completely

Tamil Nadu
In Tamil Nadu, the nine nights of Navratri are dedicated to the three Goddesses, Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati. In a raised platform the clay idols of these three deities with their partners, Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma are placed and worshipped. The main room of worship contains a pitcher made of clay, silver or copper. The pitcher is placed in the centre of the room; its mouth covered with a coconut, worshipped symbolically as Durga

Kerala
The puja goes on in the temple for all the ten days but the last three days is held for most of the malayalis. Ayudya Puja is celebrated on ashtami, the eighth day of Navratri, during which the tools available in home are worshipped.


GOOD IN NAVRATRI

People celebrating such festivals experience joy and bliss.
Person tries to make others happy even if it is at the cost of his own happiness.
People celebrate pujas to do away with evil and evil doers.
Festivals help exercise self control.
Festivals not only help to increase devotion, but also bond the society.

Mrinalika Dubey
student of 5th semester B.A.Genera Dept.

 
   
 
 

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