Navratri, a nine-day Hindu festival which begins today, is celebrated across India with fervour and enthusiasm to honour the different avatars of Goddess Durga. As per the Hindu calendar, Navaratri falls during the month of Ashvin in early autumn every year when each day, a different form of the goddess is worshiped.
The festival is concluded with the 10th day's celebration known as 'Dussehra' when the idol of Goddess Durga is immersed in holy water after worshipping. This year, the last day of this festival also called Vijayadashmi which signifies the victory of king Lord Rama over Ravana falls on 8 October.
Legends around Dussehra:
As per Hindu mythology, a demon by the name of Mahishasur was honored a boon of immortality by Lord Shiva. As per the boon, Mahishasur could not be killed or wounded by any weapon. Because of this power, he became a terror for the people on Earth and started to cause destruction.
To end the destruction, Durga was born. She was created by Lord Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva who gave their powers to create Shakti — the divine feminine form of power and strength. Goddess Durga fought with the demon Mahishasura for nine days and on the tenth day she beheaded the demon.
As per another legend, Lord Rama worshipped all the nine forms of Goddess Durga on nine consecutive nights before he killed Ravana. Since then all divine incarnations of the goddess are worshipped on all nine days of the festival.
How the festival is celebrated across India:
Even though several states in India observe Navratri and partake in the revelry, the festival holds upmost prominence for devotees in Bengal and Gujarat.
In Bengal, the streets are decorated with thousands of temporary stages called pandals that house the idol of Goddess Durga. Followers offer their prayers to different incarnations of Goddess Durga on all nine days and on the tenth day a great procession is held where the statue is immersed in the holy river.
In Gujarat, Navratri is celebrated for nine long days with huge pomp and show, as communities come together dressed in their traditional best to perform Garba — a seemingly simple dance where the crowd moves in circular movements in unison on the beats of dhol and songs.
In Bihar, festive celebrations and performance arts are held at local temples along with fairs to exhibit handicrafts, pottery, kitchen and houseware.
In northern parts of India like Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, Navratri is celebrated as Lord Ram’s win. As per mythology, on the day of Vijayadashami, Lord Ram defeated Ravana and rescued his wife Sita. The age-old saga is retold through a play popularly called Ramleela. Devotees in north India organize Ram leela performances and burn huge effigies of Ravana on this day.
Updated Date: Sep 30, 2019 10:58:08 IST