Growing up in India, you never would have missed this Hindu Festival, which is a sheer celebration of feminine power and energy! Navaratri is a celebration of Goddess Durga’s victory over the demon Mahisasura. According to various myths, the fight between Durga and Mahisasura went on for nine days which is why the name ‘Navaratri’.
In South India, Navaratri is celebrated with Golu, a practice of displaying dolls for the purpose of depicting mythological stories and worshipping. Additionally, families invite over kids from the neighborhood, especially female children and present them new clothes, accessories with a motive to lighten up their day. People gather together and praise Hindu goddesses with spiritual hymns and prayers. They also cook delicious food and snack items to eat together in this social gathering.
But, the celebration above the Vindhyas and in the eastern part of India, is totally different. In Mumbai, Delhi, and Gujarat, people dress up in different colors for all nine days and perform Gharba and Dhandiya dances. People fast, some even go to the extent of avoiding footwear and stay spiritual for the nine days. On the last day, they burn the effigy of demon Ravan. In Bengal, where Goddess Durga is worshipped roaringly, Navratri is celebrated as Durga Puja. Ultimately, on the last day of the festival, devotees have to say goodbye to the Goddess. But, one thing remains common in most of the areas is how people worship the various aspects of Goddess’s characteristics.
What is interesting about Garbha and dandiya dances is, both these dances are the re-enactment of the battle between Goddess Durga and Mahisasura. But, over the course of time, these two dances have merged to create a contemporary dance style, which is a popular dance form that is widely seen during the nine-day celebrations. Basically, Navaratri is a festival of the autumn season. So, in some parts of the country, people even start sowing paddy to mark this auspicious day.
Even though there are mild differences in the rituals and the ideology, Navaratri is celebrated all through India. Moreover, the celebration of this festival is full of lights, crackers, and colors unlike any other festivals of India. In Kerala and West Bengal, people rally with their religious idols to mark the end of the celebration. Fireworks and crackers add glamour to these processions.
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