Get ready to immerse yourself in one of India’s most eagerly awaited festivals as Navratri 2023 is just around the corner! This nine-night extravaganza is a time of immense joy and fervor for Hindus across the country. It’s a time to worship Maa Durga and her nine powerful forms known as Navdurga. In Sanskrit, “Navratri” literally means “nine nights,” and during this festival, devotees wholeheartedly worship the nine incarnations of Maa Durga to seek her blessings. Let’s delve into the significance and celebrations of Navratri!
Navratri 2023: Significance & Auspicious Timing
The winter season hosts Sharda Navratri, one of India’s grandest festivals. This year, Navratri commences on October 15 and continues until October 23. The auspicious time for pooja or worship, known as the Shubh muhurat, falls between 11:48 am and 12:36 pm on October 23.
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma, impressed by Mahishasura’s unwavering devotion, granted him the gift of immortality. However, there was a condition: only a woman could defeat him. Mahishasura, assuming no woman could possibly vanquish him, wreaked havoc on Earth, and even the gods were powerless against him.
With no other choice, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva united their divine energies to create the formidable goddess Durga, endowing her with numerous weapons. A nine-day battle ensued between Mahishasura and Goddess Durga, culminating in her victory when Mahishasura transformed into a buffalo.
Navratri, therefore, commemorates the vanquishing of the demon Mahishasura and the triumph of good over evil.
Fasts, Shlokas, Garba, and More
During these nine spiritually charged days, people observe ritualistic fasts, recite shlokas (hymns) dedicated to the nine goddesses, don new attire, offer bhog (sacred offerings), and participate in the vibrant dance of Garba. All these acts are offerings to seek the goddess’s blessings for a life filled with prosperity, happiness, and fulfillment.
Specific communities, especially the Gujaratis, create beautiful ghats or kalash adorned with coconuts, jewels, flowers, and chunri. An akhand jyot (eternal flame) is lit, and jowar or barley is cultivated in a small pot on the first day of the festival.
Dance plays a significant role in these festivities, with two prominent forms: Garba and Dandiya Raas. Dandiya Raas involves dancing with sticks to the rhythm of music, while Garba is a traditional circular dance accompanied by rhythmic handclaps.
For those observing the Navratri fasts, there’s a delightful array of dishes to enjoy, including:
- Kuttu Ki Puri
- Singhade Ka Halwa
- Singhare Ke Pakore
- Sabudana Vada
- Sabudana Khichdi
Restaurants and grocery stores offer special fasting meals, often referred to as “Vrat ka Khana.” Some opt for a fruit-only diet, while others prefer light meals during the day and a substantial dinner at night.
On the final day, or the eighth day, women host Kanya puja (girl-child worship) in their homes. They invite nine young girls and one boy, serving them food and offering small gifts as tokens of their devotion and respect. Navratri is a time of joy, celebration, and deep spiritual connection, reminding us of the eternal victory of good over evil.