(Sattvik picture by Sanatan Sanstha’s seeker Ms. Anuradha Wadekar of
Sree Durgadevi posing subtly for 5 hours, under guidance of Sage Rama)
Sharanye trayambake gauri, Narayani namostute ll
Meaning: O Mother ! You are the personification of all that is auspicious, You are the benevolent form of Lord Shiva, You bestow Divine energy and help people achieve Righteousness, wealth, fulfill desires and Liberation, You are worthy of being surrendered to. Three eyes adorn You. O Narayani Devi, I pay obeisance to You !
Navratri Celebrations In India
Navratri is the most Famous Festival of Gujarat around the world. Navratri is group of ‘nine nights’, where Gujarti people enjoy festival with joy and relious, for nine nights. This is an ancient and colourful festival. Navratri honours the one Divine Shakti or Force which supports the entire universe, and is personified as the Mother Goddess. She protects her worshippers, destroys evil and grants boons to her children. This Navratri Festival is essentially religious in nature.
Navratri is celebrated with true devotion in the various temples dedicated to Mataji. This is also true of the temples which usually have a constant stream of visitors from morning to night.
The most Interesting point is the Ras-Garba, a circular dance executed by men and women around an ceramic pot called a Garbo. A silver coin is placed within the pot, called a kumbh, and coconut has also been placed on the top. As the performers circle the pot, a singer and a drummer provide the musical. The participants clap in a steady rhythm. Nowadays, loudspeakers are used to enhance the sound which grows to a crescendo. The Garbo normally starts slowly, and it becomes faster and faster as the music too becomes more fast. Gujarat is famous for its Ras-Garba around the world.
Another interesting feature of Navaratri is the Dandia Ras, in which men and women join the dance in circle with Dandia (a small wooden stick). In this dance, men and women strike the dandias together and the singer and drummer make it more exciting. The Ras-Garba are so popular around the Gujarat, so some people and companies are now held the competitions. Also Big Prizes are given to the winner in various categories, like the Traditional costumes, Style of Dance, Best Dandia-Ras Couple, Best Garba Style and more. All the winners are judged by the selected judges.
Navratri, the festival of nine nights is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her nine forms. According to the Hindu calendar, Navratri begins from the first day of the bright fortnight of Ashwin which usually coincides with the end of the rainy season.
The nine days have great religious significance as Goddess
Durga, the divine mother, had destroyed the evil force (in the form of the demon Mahisashura) during this period.
The festival is celebrated with true devotion and purity all over the country. People from various sections of the society irrespective of caste and creed celebrate this festival by visiting temples and offering pujas at the Mother’s feet.
In some places special puja samarohas are also held by setting the images of Mother Durga on beautifully decorated pandals. Temples dedicated to Shakti also make arrangement for pujas and bratas to mark these nine days as true symbols of devotion and adoration towards the divine mother.
|Nevertheless, the focal point of every garba circle is the small Goddess shrine erected by each community to mark the beginning of the festival, on the first day of the Hindu month of Ashwin. The shrine includes a garbo, an earthenware pot, in which a betel nut, coconut, and silver coin are placed.
Each night the village or urban neighborhood gathers to perform a puja to one of the nine forms of Goddess. The nine nights are also broken up into sections of three; the first is for Durga, the goddess who destroyed an evil force represented by the demon Mahishasura, and who destroys human impurities; the second is for Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity; the third is for Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and art. It is a time to celebrate fertility and the monsoon harvest, represented by a mound of fresh soil in which grains are sown.
After the puja begins the music; it is unmistakable to those who are familiar with the style and irresistible to many. People begin to dance in a circle, whirling away till late into the night. It is not uncommon to find dancers with swords or lit flames and other spectacles.
The traditional dance steps are simple, though over the years people have been inventing more complex steps. Similarly, the music was traditionally acoustic, principally composed of drums and singing, but most people now use amplified sound systems or a blend in the form of a live band with modern instruments. Vadodara is a good place to find the full range of these styles, traditional to modern, acoustic to amplified, simple to complicated, each one represented in its extreme somewhere in the city.
The tenth day, Dashera, also known as Vijayadashami in South India, is celebrated by doing a puja to bless one’s vehicle, and is also the day to buy new vehicles, if necessary. It ‘s also celebrated, probably after getting up far later than usual, by unabashedly eating lots of fafda, a salty fried crunchy snack and jalebi, a sweet fried sticky snack.
Religion and tradition aside, a garba circle can take on a surprising spiritual power. Women often give up certain eatables during these nights, which can be quite a purifying experience, if done right. It is a time for even the most traditional and housebound women to be out of the house and whirling, uninhibited, towards the divinity that hides within her own body. Many of the songs begin slow and gradually speed up, sending the dancers into a trance, especially when the music and dance is in its rawest form. When you come to a garba, wherever in Gujarat you may find yourself for Navratri, imagine this: A circle, or concentric circles, moving around the central representation of a universal creative force, the source of life; everybody performing the same step; a mandala of energetic potential; the Mother Goddess unleashed.
Navratri is celebrated for nine nights, beginning on the first day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month Ashwin, roughly corresponding to dates in the Gregorian calendar in September/October. This also usually coincides with the end of the rainy season. Dasara/Vijayadashami, is the tenth day of Ashwin.
|Garba happens at night in villages and neighborhoods all around Gujarat, so just step outside and follow the booming garba music. Vadodara is considered the cultural capital of Gujarat, and the most sought after location for celebrating Navratri. Try to visit at least one village garba too, for a range of experience.
Religious pilgrimage during this festival focuses mainly in the Shakti Peethas: Ambaji, Pavagadh and Bahuchraji near Mehsana. There are also major celebrations in temples such as Ashapura Mata-no-Madh in Kutch, Khodiyar Mandir near Bhavnagar, and Chamunda Mata Mandir at Chotila on the Ahmedabad-Rajkot National Highway.
|Navratri is traditionally a Hindu festival, but it’s not unheard-of to find non-Hindus having fun with their friends at a garba.|
|There are many enthralling legends and myths attached to the history of Navratri:
These legends and story are part of the history that surrounds the festival of Navratri and are going to be around as long as the festival continues.
Calendar for next five years
|08th to 16thOctomber 2010
28thSeptember to 5thOctomber 2011
16th to 24thOctomber 2012
05th to 13thOctomber 2013
Navratri is one of the holy festivals of hinduism. It is a festival of nine nights, during which we worship goddess of shakti.
When the supreme being begins to manifest its cosmic energy, it is variously known as Sakti, Devi or Divine Mother, who assumes many forms according to the tasks to be preformed by her. She is also known as Durga, Lakshmi or Sarawati in her destructive, protective, and knowledge giving roles respectively. These three aspects of the Divine Mother are worshipped during Devi Navaratri puja, the nine nights.
Navratri festival is observed twice a year, once in the month of Chaitra and then in Aswayuja. It lasts for nine days in honour of the nine manifestations of Durga. During Navaratri (the word literally means “nine nights”) devotees of Durga observe a fast. Brahmins are fed and prayers are offered for the protection of health and property.
Durga or the destructive aspect of the divine mother is worshipped during the first three nights. On the succeeding three knights, her protective aspect of Lakshmi and on the last three nights, her knowledge aspect or Saraswati are worshipped. The significance of this order is that first durga destroys all the evil propensities lurking in the minds of her devotees; then lakshmi implants divine qualities in the devotees’ minds and finally saraswati bestows true knowledge to her devotees. The tenth day known as Vijaya Dasami, commemorates the victory of knowledge over ignorance of goodness over evil.
1st – 3rd day of Navratri
On the first day of the Navaratras, a small bed of mud is prepared in the puja room of the house and barley seeds are sown on it. On the tenth day, the shoots are about 3 – 5 inches in length. After the puja, these seedlings are pulled out and given to devotees as a blessing from god. These initial days are dedicated to Durga Maa, the Goddess of power and energy. Her various manifestations, Kumari, Parvati and Kali are all worshipped during these days. They represent the three different classes of womanhood that include the child, the young girl and the mature woman.
4th – 6th day of Navratri
During these days, Lakshmi Maa, the Goddess of peace and prosperity is worshipped. On the fifth day which is known as Lalita Panchami, it is traditional, to gather and display all literature available in the house, light a lamp or ‘diya’ to invoke Saraswati Maa, the Goddess of knowledge and art.
7th – 8th day of Navratri
These final days belong to Saraswati Maa who is worshipped to acquire the spiritual knowledge. This in turn will free us from all earthly bondage. But on the 8th day of this colourful festival, yagna (holy fire) is performed. Ghee (clarified butter), kheer (rice pudding) and sesame seeds form the holy offering to Goddess Durga Maa.
The festival of Navratri culminates in Mahanavami. On this day Kanya Puja is performed. Nine young girls representing the nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshiped. Their feet are washed as a mark of respect for the Goddess and then they are offered new clothes as gifts by the worshiper. This ritual is performed in most parts of the country.
¤ Navratri Celebrations
Navratri Festival coincides with the end of the rainy season. This season is considered to be an auspicious one as it is generally associated with the sowing of seeds, and watching new seeds sprout – a sign of prosperity and abundance. Most people consider it the best time of the year to undertake or start new ventures.
¤ Durga- The Holy Deity
The Navratri festival is dedicated to the Mother Goddess. Known by other names such as Durga, Devi, she occupies a special place in the Hindu pantheon. She represents Shakti, the cosmic energy that animates all beings, and is also considered to be prakriti (nature), the counterpart of purusha. Together, they are responsible for the creation of the world according to the Puranas and Vedas (ancient Hindu Scriptures).
¤ Worshipping of Diverse Goddess
This nine-day festival is celebrated in a unique manner. A different form of the Mother Goddess is worshipped on each different day. On the first three days, the Goddess Durga (Goddess of Valour) is venerated. The next three days are spent in the worship of the Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth). and the last three days are a celebration of the Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of Learning and Arts). Together, the three goddesses are worshipped as the feminine equivalent of the Hindu Holy Trinity.
¤ The Rituals Performed
This festival symbolises health and prosperity, and is celebrated in a very traditional way. People perform yagna (sacrifice offered in order to procure purification through fire) or havana (symbolic ceremony involving the purifying aspects of fire). During both the ceremonies, ghee (clarified butter), paayas or kheer (rice cooked in condensed milk) and sesame seeds are poured into the holy flames to the chanting of mantras (holy verses). Each cycle of oblation culminates with the priest summoning Swaha, the consort of Agni, or fire. Some believers fast (vrat) throughout the nine days, whilst others settle for a daylong fast. Fasting is considered to be one of the most popular means of self-discipline and spiritual development. On the fifth day, known as Lalitha Panchami, it is customary to gather the books in the house and place them before a sacred lamp in order to seek the Goddess Saraswati’s blessings. Artisans also lay their tools at the feet of the Goddess for a more prosperous trade.
¤ Navratri Celebrations in Different Parts of India
Navratri is celebrated in different regions of the country with a lot of vim and brio.
In West Bengal, it takes the form of Durga Puja, an occasion to celebrate the Triumph of Good over Evil. According to legend, a vicious buffalo-demon, Mahishasura, had raised hell at the gates of heaven, causing widespread terror. The Goddess Durga was actualised by the combined efforts of all the deities to slay him. Thus, Durga astride a lion, with an assortment of weapons in her 10 hands, slayed Mahishasura. Durga is also worshipped as Shakti, and beautiful idols of the Mother Goddess adorn elaborate pandals (marquees) for five days (starting from the fifth day of Navratri). Believers (and non-believers) flock to these pandals with gay abandon. On the tenth day of the celebrations, the idols are carried out in colourful processions to be immersed (visarjan) in a river or a pond.
In the state of Punjab, people usually fast during this period, for seven days, and on Ashtami, the eighth day, devotees break their fast by worshipping young girls who are supposed to be representatives of the Goddess herself by offering them the traditional puris (sort of deep-fried Indian bread), halwa (a dessert primarily made of flour and sugar), chanas (Bengal gram) and red chunnis (long scarves). In this region, the festival is predominantly linked with harvest. This is the time of the khetri, (wheat grown in pots in the urban context) that is worshipped in homes, and whose seedlings are given to devotees as blessings from God.
¤ Dussehra or (Vijaya Dashmi)
The festival of Navratri also coincides with the festival of Dussehra or Vijaya Dashmi. Vijaya Dashami (literally meaning ‘The Day marking the Triumph of Good over Evil’) falls on the day after Navratri, and is associated with another legend where Lord Rama killed the demon-king Ravana. In the northern parts of India, Ram Lilas draw from the epic, theRamayana, to bring the life and times of Lord Rama back to the common folk through dramatic representations.
¤ Celebrations in South India
In the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, the festival of Navratri is celebrated in a different manner. Women adorn their houses with dolls (Bommai Kolu), draw traditional designs or rangolis (patterns made on the floor by using various coloured powders and flowers), and light lamps. During this festival (also known as Kolu in the state of Tamil Nadu), families proudly display traditional wooden dolls and gather to sing songs and depict scenes from the various epics, for a period of ten days. Another runaway hit is the sundal, a special sweet made from lentil and brown sugar. Families and friends exchange the traditional gifts of coconuts, clothes and sweets on this occasion.
¤ Garbha and Dandiya-Rasa– The Highlights of Navratri
The festival of Navratri acquires quite a fascinating and colourful dimension in the region of Gujarat, and in some parts of Rajasthan and . The highlights of the festival are the extremely colourful dances of Garbha and Dandiya-Rasa during which, both men and women dressed in the traditional attires of dhoti-kurta (traditional Indian attire worn by menfolk, comprising a long shirt and a long flowing garment worn over the lower part of the body), and chania-choli (mirror-work skirts and blouses), put up stunning performances to the vibrant rhythm of music. These dances are performed around the traditionally decorated terracotta pot called the garbi that has a small diya (lamp) burning inside signifying knowledge, or light meant to dissipate the ignorance, or darkness, within. Dholak players (drummers) accompany the dancers, and groups of singers sing songs handed down generations.
Today the commercialisation of these dances seems evident, with the traditional and delicate rhythms being replaced by alternate forms that are quite far-removed from the original versions.
As a dance form, the Garbha is mainly performed by women. The leader starts with the first line of the song. Other dancers who sway gracefully, with their arms describing movements in perfect synchrony to the rhythmic clapping, or beating of sticks then pick this up.
Yet another variation of the Garbha is the Goph Guntan, or the string dance. As the dancers execute the movements, they hold on to one end of a rope in strands, while the other end of the rope is tied either to the ceiling or a wooden pole. Gradually, as the dancers weave in and around each other, a braid is formed. It is quite an interesting sight as it takes a certain degree of skill and accuracy to intertwine and untangle the braid without falling out of pace.
Another dance form that is popular during the Navratri celebrations is the Dandiya-Rasa, performed mostly by menfolk forming complex circular patterns to represent the lotus and other floral designs. These dancers hold the dandiyas (small wooden sticks with tiny bells attached at the ends) and dance in complex concentric circles. The dancers rhythmically beat the sticks even during a series of complicated moves that they must execute while sitting, standing or lying down.
Different communities have different variations of these dances. and the heady mix of jubilation and enthusiasm is all-pervasive.
History of Navratri
History & Origin Of Navratri
In different parts of India, different legends describe the history of Navratri:
The legend in North India goes that Mahishasura, the mighty demon, worshipped Lord Shiva and obtained the power of eternity. Soon, he started killing and harassing innocent people and set out to win all the three lokas. The gods in swargaloka appealed to Lord Shiva, to find a way to get rid of the demon. To protect the world from the atrocities of Mahishasura, the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva united their powers and created a divine female warrior, known as Goddess Durga. Mahishasura, when he saw the divine beauty of Goddess Durga, got mesmerized.
So fascinated was Mahishasura by Goddess Durga’s beauty that he approached her with the intention of marriage. The goddess agreed to marry him, but put forth a condition – Mahishasura would have to win over her in a battle. Mahishasura, proud as he was, agreed immediately! The battle continued for 9 nights and at the end of the ninth night, Goddess Durga beheaded Mahishasura. The nine nights came to be known as Navratri, while the tenth day was called Vijayadashmi, the tenth day that brought the triumph of good over evil.
As per the legend prevalent in East India, Daksha, the king of the Himalayas, had a beautiful and virtuous daughter called Uma. She wished to marry Lord Shiva, since her childhood. In order to win over the Lord, she worshipped him and managed to please him as well. When Shiva finally came to marry her, the tiger-skin clad groom displeased Daksha and he broke off all the relationships with his daughter and son-in-law. One fine day, Daksha organized a yagna, but did not invite Lord Shiva for the same.
Uma got so angry at her father’s rude behavior, towards her husband, that she decided to end her life by jumping into the agnikund of the yagna, where she was united with eternity (since then, she came to be known as Sati). However, she took re-birth and again won Shiva as her groom and peace was restored. It is believed that since then, Uma comes every year with Ganesh, Kartik, Saraswati and Laxmi and two of her best friends or ‘sakhis’, called Jaya and Bijaya, to visit her parent’s home during Navratri.
Another Legend – Ram and Ravana
Yet another legend of Navratri relates to the Hindu epic Ramayana. It goes that Lord Rama worshipped Goddess Durga in nine aspects, for nine days, in order to gather the strength and power to kill Ravana. He wanted to release Sita from the clutches of powerful demon king Ravana, who had abducted her. Those nine nights became to be known as Navratri and the tenth day, on which Lord Rama killed Ravana, came to be called Vijayadashmi or Dusshera, signifying Rama’s (good) triumph over Ravana (evil).
Lakshmi ka hath ho
Saraswati ka sath ho
Ganesh ka niwas ho
Aur maa durga ke aashirwad se
Aapke jeevan mai prakash hi prakash ho!
Pyar ka tarana uphar ho
Khushiyo ka nazrana beshumar ho
Na rahe koi gam ka ehsas
Aisa navratra utsav is saal ho!
Jai Maa Durge!
Jai Maa Ambe!
Jai Maa Jagdambe!
Jai Maa Bhawani!
Jai Maa Sheetla!
Jai Maa Vaishno!
Jai Maa Chandi!
Mata Rani meri aur apki manokamna puri karey
Jai Mata di!
This Navratri, may you be blessed with good fortune as long as Ganeshji’s trunk, wealth and prosperity as big as his stomach, happiness as sweet as his ladoos and may your trouble be as small as his mouse.
Fortunate is the one who has learned to admire, but not to envy.
Good Wishes for a joyous Navratri, with plenty of Peace and Prosperity!
Maa ki jyoti se prem milta hai
Sabke dilo ko marm milta hai
Jo bhi jata hai maa ke dwar
Kuch na kuch jarur milta hai.
May this Navratri be as bright as ever.
May this Navratri bring joy, health and wealth to you.
May the festival of lights brighten up you and your near and dear ones lives.
May the festival of lights be the harbinger of joy and prosperity. As the holy occasion of Navratri is here and the atmosphere is filled with the spirit of mirth and love, here’s hoping this festival
Aapi shako to aapni dosti magu chu,
dil thi dil no sahkar magu chu,
fikar na karo dosti per jaan lutavi dais,
rokdo vyavhar che kya, udhar mangu chu…
Maa durga se vinti hai ki apke jeevan main sukh,samradhe, dhan,yas ,Pardhan kare. Happy Navratra
May your life be filled with happiness on this pious festival of Navratri,
Ramji ki mahima
Sita maa ka dhairya
Lakshmana ji ka tej aur
Bharat ji ka tyaag
hum sabko jeevan ki seekh deta rahey.
Happy Chaitra Navratri.
Maa durga humein sarvshreshtha banne ka
Saahas-ichha-dhairya pradan kare.
Unki aseem kripa hum par bani rahe!
Apko aur apke parivar ko
Navratri ki shubhkamnaye
May maa durga empower you and your family
With her nine swaroopa of name, fame,
Health, wealth, happiness, humanity,
Education, bhakti & shakti.