The Hindu culture is a culture known for its customs, traditions and festivals. One such festival is that of Navratri, during which the Hindus worship their respective Gods and there is a lot of dancing involve in this festival as well. Literally, the term ‘Navratri’, in Sanskrit, means nine (nava) nights (ratri).
So, what happens during these nine nights? During these nine nights and days, nine types of Indian goddesses, that is, the ‘Devis’ are worshipped. This nine day festival of Navratri, is basically held to honor the Hindu Goddess Durga and her nine manifestations. Hindu mythology is very interesting and all the festivals that are celebrated today, by the Hindus, can be linked in one way or another to the Hindu mythology. Navratri, according to the Hindu mythology, is celebrated in honor of the victory of good over evil because Goddess Durga (Shakti) had killed a buffalo-headed demon named Mahshasura. This battle between Durga and the demon, lasted for nine days and night.
Now, during these nine days, Goddess Shakti is celebrated and worshipped in nine forms, namely: Maa Shailputri, Maa Brahmachaarini, Maa Chandraghanta, Maa Kushmaanda, Skanda Maa, Maa Kaatyayni, Maa Kaakratri, Maa Mahagauri and Maa Sidhidaarti. These nine goddesses are worshipped by the Hindus for prosperity, good health, knowledge and auspiciousness.
The puja (worship) which is done during this festival, is very simple. Generally, fasts are observed during Navratri, however if one cannot fast, then they may simple recite the ‘mantra’ which goes something like “Om Ang Haring Kalimg Shreeng Maha Durgay Namah”.
Another important custom of this festival is that certain food items are recommended to be consumed, while others are to be avoided. Non-vegetarian food items are to be avoided and fruits or ‘Satvik’ fruits like Potatoes and Curd etc should be eaten. Onion and Garlic are also to be avoided.
The Puja is a very important part of all Hindu festivals and Navratri is no exception. The Hindus are to worship with’Vyavhaar and Acharan’ which means they need to worship the female deity with ‘bhav’ that is spiritual emotion.
As mentioned earlier, that a lot of dancing is involved in Navratri. Folk dances or traditional dances, in Hindu culture, are a unique way of reflecting their beliefs, values and principles. Colorful costumes and traditional jewelries are adorned by Hindu men and women as they engage in their folk dances.
Garba and Dandiya are the two major folk dances of Gujrat. During Navratri, the Hindus dance the Garba dance, which is a pretty graceful dance. Hindus engage in Garba to please the goddess Durga.
The Garba dance is danced to the upbeat, thumping tunes of the dhol. The Garba is a pretty fast dance, there is a lot of movement involved like going round in circles, clapping hands, twirling around etc hence, fast songs are usually selected for this purpose. Many famous Indian musical composers, have composed ‘Garba’ special songs which can be heard blasting from almost every corner in India, during this festival.
Navratri Chaniya Choli:
Indian festivals are a great opportunities for the Indian women to dress up in gorgeous traditional clothes. When it comes to Navratri, women mostly opt for either saris, or chaniya cholis in bright, bold colors.
Chaniya Cholis look extremely graceful and when the women folk dance to the garba tunes, in their beautifully embellished chaniya cholis, they look even prettier. Some of these cholis are embellished with mirror work, resham embroidery etc and are available in many beautiful colors, so there are quite a few options available to the Indian females to choose from!
A beautiful chaniya choli, with gorgeous earrings and a nice pair of shoes, but the outfit still feels incomplete if you have not put mehndi on your hands and feet. Mehndi or ‘Henna’ is a simple way of adorning your hands and making them look even prettier. Basically, putting gorgeous mehandi designs on hands and feet just makes everything look more festive.
There are a number of Henna designs which the girls can choose from. They can either put it on their hands themselves, or ask their friends, sisters and cousins to do so, or they can even seek a professional mehndi artist.
During Navratri, fasts are observed. Though they are not mandatory, but a large number of people do keep their fasts during this festival. This fasting of theirs asks them to abstain from regular food items, meat is to be avoided, vegetables like onions and garlic are also not allowed. The simpler food items, like most fruits and vegetables like potatoes are allowed to be eaten.
Fasting is one of the main ritual of Navratri. Many special dishes are made which can be taken by those who are fasting. Amongst the most common of such dishes is ‘sabudana wada’, which is actually a western Indian snack. It is easily available throughout India.
It is high in carbohydrate, tasty, high in protein and makes up for a crispy fried snack. The very good thing about this snack is that it gives you enough energy, which would last for the entire day of fasting. Though it takes quite some time to prepare this dish, hence it needs to be prepared in advance. They are served hot, with tea and delicious, spicy chutneys.
Navratri Festival is an occasion of happiness. The Hindus celebrate this festival with a lot of zeal, enthusiasm and fervor. They worship their goddess, and sing and dance, till their heart’s content. The focus is on spreading the happiness around and across. Many greeting card companies keep navratri cards which contain beautiful navratri wishes, which you can buy and give them to your loved ones, to let them know that you wish them happiness on this beautiful occasion. The younger lot would probably prefer text messaging their friends and family, so they too can select a number of wishes specially written for the festival of Navratri.