What is Navratri?
Navratri, is a festival of worship and dance. The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit; The festival is celebrated for nine nights every year during September or October based on Hindu calander. There are many legends attached to the conception of Navratri like all Indian festivals but all of them are related to Goddess Shakti (Hindu Mother Goddess) and her various forms. Navratri is divided into three-day sets, each devoted to a different aspect of the supreme goddess. The first three days are devoted to Goddess Durga (Warrior Goddess to destroy all our vices, impurities, and defects) dresses in red and mounted on a lion. The next three day set is devoted to Goddess Lakshmi (the giver of spiritual and material wealth) dressed in gold and mounted on an owl, and the last set is devoted to Goddess Saraswati (the goddess of wisdom) dressed in milky white and mounted on a pure white swan. In some communities people undergo rigorous fasts during this season that lasts for the nine days of the festival, only to be opened on the tenth day of Dussehra. Traditionally, Navratri was celebrated by Hindu women only, in the honor of goddess Amba/Durga. Amba/Durga is believed to be a Shakti, originating from Lord Shankara. On the tenth day of Navratri, the holiday of Dussehra, an effigy of Ravana is burnt to celebrate the victory of good (Rama) over evil.
During this colorful event of Navratri, young men and women dance around an earthen lamp, representing Goddess Durga, kept in a decorated mud jar called Garba, singing songs accompanied by the rhythmic clapping of hands – an expression of gratitude towards goddess Durga for saving the world from the atrocities of the Mahishasur.
Though it is one of the most celebrated festivals of Hindu calendar, it holds special significance for Gujaratis and Bengalis and one can see it in the zeal and fervor of the people with which they indulge in the festive activities of the season.
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