Monday, September 28, 2020


   In North India, Navaratri is marked by the numerous Ramlila events, where episodes from the story of Rama and Ravana are enacted by teams of artists in rural and urban centers, inside temples or in temporarily constructed stages. This Hindu tradition of festive performance arts was inscribed by UNESCO as one of the "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" in 2008. The festivities, states UNESCO, include songs, narration, recital and dialogue based on the Hindu text Ramacharitmanas by Tulsidas. It is particularly notable in historically important Hindu cities of Ayodhya, Varanasi, Vrindavan, Almora, Satna and Madhubani – cities in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh

The festival and dramatic enactment of the virtues versus vices-filled story is organized by communities in hundreds of small villages and towns, attracting a mix of audience from different social, gender and economic backgrounds. In many parts, the audience and villagers join in and participate spontaneously, some helping the artists, others helping with stage set up, create make-up, effigies and lights

The most famous Navaratri festival is organized at Katra in Jammu Province. It is an annual event promoted by Directorate of Tourism, Jammu and Shri Mata Vaishno Deviji Shrine Board. Hundreds of thousands of devotees pay their attendance at Katra for the festival.

Navaratri has historically been a prominent ritual festival for kings and military of a kingdom. At the end of the Navratri, comes Dussehra, where the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna, and Meghanada are burnt to celebrate the victory of good over evil forces on Vijayadashami.

Durga Puja

   Navaratri is celebrated as the Durga Puja festival in West Bengal. It is the most important annual festival to Bengali Hindus and a major social and public event in eastern and northeastern states of India, where it dominates the religious life. The occasion is celebrated with thousands of temporary stages called pandals are built in community squares, roadside shrines and large Durga temples in West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, eastern Nepal, Assam, Tripura and nearby regions. It is also observed by some Shakta Hindus as a private, home-based festival. Durga Puja festival marks the battle of goddess Durga with the shape-shifting, deceptive and powerful buffalo demon Mahishasura, and her emerging victorious

The last five days of Navratri mark the popular practices during Durga Puja. The festival begins with Mahalaya, a day where Shakta Hindus remember the loved ones who have died, as well the advent of the warrior goddess Durga. The next most significant day of Durga Puja celebrations is the sixth day, called Shashthi where the local community welcomes the goddess Durga Devi and festive celebrations are inaugurated. On the seventh day (Saptami), eighth (Ashtami) and ninth (Navami), Durga along with Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha, and Kartikeya are revered and these days mark the main Puja (worship) with the recitation of the scriptures, the legends of Durga in Devi Mahatmya and social visits by families to elaborately decorated and lighted up temples and pandals (theatre like stages). After the nine nights, on the tenth day called Vijayadashami, a great procession is held where the clay statues are ceremoniously walked to a river or ocean coast for a solemn goodbye to Durga. Many mark their faces with vermilion or dress in something red. It is an emotional day for some devotees, and the congregation sings emotional goodbye songs. After the procession, Hindus distribute sweets and gifts, visit their friends and family members.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Flavours of Navaratri


Navaratri, which literally means 'nine nights', is one of the most significant Hindu festivals of India celebrated in the Hindu calendar month of Ashvin, Sharada Navaratri, which usually falls during the months of September and October. The festival, which is dedicated to Goddess Durga, marks the celebration of Durga's victory over the demon, Mahishasura. The nine forms/avatars of Goddess Durga, called the Navadurga, are worshipped during Navaratri. The festival ends with the Dussehra, also called Vijayadasami, on the 10th day, and it marks the triumph of good over evil.

Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri, and Siddhidatri are the nine forms of Goddess Durga worshipped during these nine days. Exploiting the boon that was granted to him and made him invincible, demon Mahishasura waged wars against devas for days. The infuriated devas fused together their combined powers into Durga and made her invincible. Blessed with ten hands and a different weapon for each hand, Durga waged a fierce war with Mahishasura and eventually conquered him, thereby ending the rule of Asuras. Henceforth, she came to be known as Mahishasuramardini.

The auspicious occasion is celebrated across the country, with each state following their unique tradition to commemorate the festival. Navaratri is celebrated across Gujarat, West Bengal, Kerala, Kashmir, Mysore, and Tamil Nadu, with the Garba in Gujarat and the Durga Puja in West Bengal being the high spots. In the northern parts of the country, Dussehra is associated with Ram Lila, which celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over the demon Ravana, whose effigies are burned on the 10th day. This year, Navaratri begins on October 17 and ends on October 25, and the 10th day, October 25, marks Vijayadashami/Dussehra.